Staycations growing trendier in Middle East

Staycations growing trendier in Middle East

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Traveler habits are evolving and as annual leave periods become more and more fragmented, vacationers from the Middle East region are travelling intra-regionally or internationally more often and for shorter periods of time. Travelers from the region are also growing more budget conscious as they shop on-line for better and last-minute deals.

Some of these vacations are dedicated to the exploration of new destinations however, budgets might not allow travel away from home 4 or 5 times a year. Seeking a break in their routine, a change of scenery or new experiences and building memories with family and friends, does not necessarily necessitate travelling far.

This is the choice of Staycationers: a fairly new breed of travelers that spend holidays at home or in their home city/destination instead of travelling abroad, enjoying day trips, local excursions, attractions, festivals and regional events taking place.

Staycations are on the rise in Middle East: the keyword has appeared in Google Searches as of 2008 at a global level, however, has really gained traction in Middle East and UAE in particular towards the end of 2015. Looking at Google trends, the number of searches for staycation for the summer of 2017 is close to double the search total when compared to summer 2016.

There are several reasons to explain the changing face of tourism in the region and the increase of the staycation.

Staycations are the perfect solution for long weekends: Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha provide the perfect formula and opportunity to residents across the region to enjoy 3 or 4 day weekends. If quite a few took advantage of deals and packages to travel, many others opted for weekends in their home country affording them more luxurious hotels with financial wins made from avoiding airfares and air tickets and taking advantage of Day passes in Resorts and attraction offers.

Summer 2017 was a particularly long season which kicked off with Eid Al Fitr and ended with Eid Al Adha. Identified as a long season for the majority of the Middle East destination, Hotels and Attractions offered incredible summer deals allowing residents to enjoy affordable accommodation at many luxury hotels. This relatively new staycation market has begun to replace the leisure business that is historically low across the region due to the high temperatures and reduction of travelers from European and Asian markets during peak summer months which are the hottest and most humid.

These trends are not necessarily new however, marketers are taking this segment far more seriously and are more consistently including the audience in their strategies and yearly plans. “Resident” and “Staycation” offers and packages are now common practice and not only available upon request at Hotel reservation or check-in but fully advertised on the brand websites or via Social Media such as Instagram or Facebook, as did few 5 star UAE or Omani Hotels & Resorts, or Attractions such as Dubai Parks & Resorts or Atlantis – Aquaventure Waterpark.

Hotels such as the Southern Sun in Abu Dhabi confirm that this market is particularly rate-sensitive and the rate or value must be attractive to capture a share. Breakfast, half board packages or combining attractions like Ferrari World or Yas Island Water Park are winning formulas. The property is experiencing a real boost to their leisure segment since marketing to staycationers, with their leisure business growing from 19% to 34% between 2015 and 2017.

UAE is a great Staycation market as shows the Nationality statistics for Abu Dhabi, since YTD August 2017, the first feeder market of the Emirates are actually Emiratis with over 30% of the guests (source – TDCA Abu Dhabi – Department of Culture and Tourism).

Staycationers are also an interesting source of business for Hotels in Kuwait for instance, where other than Residents, Nationals enjoy resorts over weekends making the most of the resort’s leisure facilities and restaurants catering for the needs of the entire family.

In essence, your Hotel is the perfect destination for Staycations if it offers great leisure facilities and / or is located close to major tourist attractions (resort or city hotel close to major attraction or mall), offers Family rooms and a variety of restaurants.

In fact, staycation demand will probably continue developing and represent a fantastic opportunity for marketers all year round. Easy targets for a reasonable marketing investment which might include Digital marketing and Social media ads, Hotels and Attractions can acquire regular customers if the experience provided was positive and word of mouth will certainly contribute to the success.

 

By Cristina Polo 

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