Participating for the first time in the ATM, Google announced the results of an independent study, Traveller’s Road to Decision, conducted by Ipsos to better understand the decision making process of travellers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The study confirmed that users in both countries rely on new technology when making travel decisions. The initial finding from the study is that the Internet plays a key role in the decision making process. Apart from direct advice from friends and family, the internet is the number one source for trip planning for more than a third of leisure travellers surveyed (39% in the UAE and 38% in Saudi Arabia). This number rises for business travellers – jumping to 48% and 50% in Saudi Arabia and the UAE respectively.

Among those who use the Internet to plan their travel, 48% have used their smartphone in the past year to engage in a travel related activity.

MarieDe Ducla, head of travel industry at Google MENA, commented: “Today, especially in the Middle East, travellers are constantly connected to the Internet and it is no surprise that is forms a big part of their decision making. The lack of bookings made online through smartphones is surprising, but represents a massive opportunity for the travel industry to improve their online presence, and tap into the regional travellers who more and more are using their phones as a digital concierge.”

Last minute booking is extremely high in the UAE and Saudi Arabia for both leisure and business travellers, with more than 35% and 50% respectively of the respondents saying they book less than two weeks in advance.

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