The Middle East: How to target Millennials, Generation Z and the Silver Tourist

Today’s AP voice is from our VP of sales for the Middle East and Asia, Zohaib Haider.

Tourists are learning that there is a lot to see in the Middle East. The view from the top of the Burj Khalifa, the architectural beauty of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, swimming in the Dead Sea, wandering around the archaeological city of Petra, just to name a few.

There has been consistent year-on-year growth in inbound tourists to the Middle East since 2013. Tourism grew by 5.6 percent in 2017 and the projection for 2018 is 6.1 percent. According to the International Air Transport Association, Middle East passenger numbers for flights are forecast to grow by 7 percent in 2018 despite fluctuations in oil price and global economic turbulence. IATA figures also predict that Middle East airlines will see $600 million in net profits in 2018, double the figure from 2017. Passenger capacity is also estimated to rise by 6.6 percent this year and a further 4.9 percent increase is forecast for 2018.

With the conditions looking very favourable for independent hoteliers in the Middle East, let’s take a look into one crucial trend that these hotels should be making the most of in their sales and marketing.

“Generation Z and the Millennial to the Silver tourist”

PwC, in its report on the Middle East travel and tourism industry, highlights the polarising, multi-faceted demand shift driven by generational and demographic changes. No longer is the region’s demand driven by middle-aged business and leisure tourists from Western countries.

While millennials and Generation Z are attracted by adventure, gastronomy, eco-travel and nightlife, the silver tourist is looking for culture, heritage, wellness and cruises. The silver tourist is influenced by traditional marketing tactics, millennials are influenced by social media and Generation Z are dependent on being constantly connected.

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PwC offers some compelling suggestions on how the Middle East’s hoteliers can target each of these three types of tourists.

1) Embrace innovation: Move away from compartmentalised marketing to descriptive marketing (e.g. business/leisure hotel vs. lifestyle branding).

2) Be proactive: With business travelers soon to be targeted by Airbnb, hoteliers need to be proactive in retaining this demographic and appealing to a broad group of tourists. They need to be more consumer-centric and offer unique experiences.

3) Move on from traditional hotel marketing concepts: Travel brochures belong to yesterday. Social media platforms are vital for reaching younger tourists.

4) Digitisation: Today’s traveler has far more control of their travel planning process and in fact, of the whole travel experience. Hotels should look to see how they can digitalise.

So how can you implement these four suggestions to further your hotel’s growth? We have long-standing experience working with independent hotels in the Middle East on their marketing and sales strategies. We’re always happy to speak to independent hotels based in the region on what they can do to drive their business goals.
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