Hundreds of delegates from the region and around the world attended the opening of the 22nd edition of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2015 in Dubai on Monday, May 4 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
This year’s ATM, which runs from May 4 to 7, has attracted the participation of nearly 3,000 exhibitors, ranging from hotels to travel agencies who are showcasing their products and services.
In line with the theme of the latest edition of ATM, YouGov has unveiled the results of its latest Family Travel study with the findings showing that the majority of residents in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region prefer to travel with their family.
Among the 2,000-plus respondents polled for the survey, 64 per cent said they travelled with their children in the last 12 months and almost two-thirds (62 per cent) prefer to book their travel online.
The results were presented by Scott Booth, research director and head of travel, tourism and leisure for YouGov Middle East as part of an interactive panel discussion on the first day of ATM 2015.
“Our research looked at how behaviour and preferences change when travelling with children, and with children of different ages, and this was a good springboard for discussion,” said Booth.
Sponsored by Mexico, family travel is the spotlight theme for this year’s ATM and the research, which was based on outbound travel from the region, revealed that families are taking an average of two trips per year, and that those with younger children (0-12 years) tend to travel more often than those with 13 to 18-year-olds, taking three or more trips annually (32 per cent of surveyed respondents).
Top ranked reasons for family travel were visiting friends/family (29 per cent, resort/beach holiday (25 per cent), Eid holiday travel (17 per cent), shopping (15 per cent), nature holidays (14 per cent), city breaks (11 per cent), sightseeing (9 per cent) and religious tourism (9 per cent).
Recommendations were also crucial factors in the decision-making process with feedback from family/friends the major influencer versus traveller reviews with 50 nper cent relying on this for trip planning.
Input from teenagers in the family is also exerting significantly more influence on booking decisions compared to families with 0-12 year olds, highlighting a need for teen-focused marketing and teen-friendly properties.
“In terms of destinations, the pattern is not drastically different from those travelling without family, with large concentrations of family travellers visiting the UAE and Europe,” said Booth.
“Those who are married with or without children are more likely to have visited Egypt or India on their last leisure trip. Those married with children are more likely to have visited UAE on their last trip compared to those married without children,” he added,
Accommodation preferences were topped by four or five-star hotels or friend/family homes (31 per cent) with 29 per cent of survey respondents looking specifically for city centre locations and the availability of family suites/villas most important for parents of 13-18 year olds with 17 per cent choosing to stay in hotel apartments.
Reasonable costs were also cited as an important consideration for family groups.
Destination ‘checklists’ were different according to the age group, with families with 0-12 year olds seeking out locations with lots of activities on offer, theme parks and a good attitude to children, while those with older children (13-18 year olds) wanted all-inclusive options, decent flight times and access to shopping.
“We also found that 40 per cent book less than one month in advance and 62 per cent are choosing to book their trips online, although parents with teenagers in the family are still more likely to visit a travel agent,” noted Booth.