Google's travel team was setup in Dubai at the start of last year . Its main job is to talk to businesses in the travel industry and assist them in developing the best digital strategy. To do this, the team first set out to understand UAE and Saudi travellers' needs by conducting an analysis of their behaviour during the five stages of a trip - dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing. The first major finding revealed that, after consulting friends and family, many travellers in these nations turn to the internet to plan their trips: 40 per cent of travellers start out by going online compared to 35 per cent who initially consult travel agents. There are some variations between the sites UAE and Saudi residents visit. In the UAE, business travellers visit Google Maps, then airline websites and then the google search page; leisure travellers prefer to search on Google. In Saudi, business travellers click on airline websites, then to online travel agents and finally Google's search page; leisure travellers visit social media sites, then the Google search site. The second finding was that YouTube plays a powerful role in travellers' decision making. This is unique to the Gulf region. Get the full story at The National