Hotels.com has launched a site in Arabic, looking to build on the success of its English language site already operating in the Middle East.
Nigel Pocklington, MD for hotels.com. told Travolution that an Arabic language site was a first in its hotel aggregator peer group. Technical issues include having to reconfigure the back-end and consumer-facing pages to read from right to left.
He added: Experts tell me that there are local dialects and variations of Arabic, but the core language is understood across the region, so the site will have a very wide reach.
Hotels.com has an English-language site focused on the Middle East, driven by a large English-speaking ex-pat community. It does as much business as a mid-sized European market on its own, he said.
The move will allow hotels.com to buy search terms in Arabic. We should get marketing efficiencies in terms of our search spend.
Outbound travel tends to intra-regional, although London regularly features in the top ten. This regions currencies are quite strong against the pound, and thats good news for our UK hotel partners.
The Middle East is already the world’s largest driver of travel, tourism and hospitality, according to the UNWTO, with a current annual tourism growth rate of 11% per annum.
Internet penetration statistics for the Middle East are comparable with Europe five or six years ago.
In the Emirates, which is relatively advanced, internet penetration is around 50% and 25% of those have shopped online, he said. There is still significant growth to come.advanced, internet penetration is around 50% and 25% of those have shopped online, he said. There is still significant growth to come.