Middle East-based agents TravelAsia spoke to are not overly concerned with the impact of online bookings on total sales.
The Internet has, in fact, done a great service to the travel trade by cutting down face-to-face selling time, say agents. Users in the Middle East surf the Internet for information on products and destinations before making a booking with a travel agency. According to Ritu Mehra, new projects and business development manager for Kanoo Travel, the impact of Internet bookings on total sales last year was less than 2%.
Meanwhile, agents in the Middle East are jumping on the Internet bandwagon. Holidays by DNATA is working on an Internet strategy, with a user-friendly Website currently under production. DNATA senior general manager, travel agencies, Rashid Al Noori, says the Internet project, which will include a dedicated cruise portal, will be launched within the next eight months.
Kanoo Travel also plans to launch an interactive website this year. Kanoo`s Ritu Mehra says, “The Internet is a tool that enables us to enhance systems and operations, leading to better client servicing. B2C business could provide an opportunity to target and capture a new market segment, however limited.” By Ollie Quiniquini, TravelAsia.