Then, when it comes to air travel, 85 per cent of these queries are “branded queries”, such as “flight with Emirates” or “flight with Etihad” and then a mention of the destination – reflecting local loyalty to regional airlines. But when it comes to hotels, it’s the other way around. Here, 60 per cent of hotel queries don’t contain a brand term, meaning that “it’s more about a particular destination, rather than a hotel of a particular chain”. Loyalty generally is “quite important”, Ivan Jakovljevic – Google’s head of travel in the Middle East and North Africa – says, following recent research Google conducted with TNS, a survey company. “Thirty per cent of the travellers from the UAE, when they were booking, essentially knew which brand they wanted to book. So they were not really shopping around, they knew they were going to go with Emirates or Jumeirah, or whatever. And then, they went to their site and searched for the best price for that particular provider and then booked.” With airline bookings, most of the bookings are made direct through the airline’s websites, as opposed to flight search engines, says Jakovljevic, “and on the hotel side, it would mostly be through online travel agencies like Booking.com”. Video is particularly important in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, he says. “You go on YouTube, you search for winter sun, for example, or a ski destination – you can see what’s out there and get inspired. Video in general is huge and it’s become even bigger, and it’s especially big in the Mena region. What we’re seeing here, are some of the highest numbers in terms of the online consumption of video per capita in the world.” Get the full story at The National