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Amadeus MEA Online Connect event

Travel advisors need to shift their perspective on how “online” content is consumed by the traveller in today’s digital climate. Often travel advisors are too quick to think that the travellers’ online consumption of travel content is done mostly via OTA or through a direct airline channel.

This was the opening statement of Senior VP Online Travel Agencies Western Europe, Middle East and Africa Amadeus, Francesca Benati at the first day of the Amadeus MEA Online Connect event at the Hilton Cape town last week.

Francesca believes there are many more opportunities for travel advisors and TMCs to connect with their customers online. To do this however, it’s important to understand the difference between someone consuming travel content via their mobile or via their desktop, she said.

Did you know that 61% of travellers search for travel options via mobile? This makes mobile a big opportunity market for African travel advisors. Kenya has the highest market penetration for mobile use at 85%, Seychelles at 71%, Tunisia at 67%, South Africa at 54% and Nigeria at 50%. Understanding something as simple as this can have a massive impact on how you market to your clients.

Although many African travel advisors have an online presence, a great number of travel agencies haven’t yet ensured that their website is mobile-friendly. Click To Tweet

If one keeps in mind that  40% of users will abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load and that travellers are likely to search 38 travel sites before making a purchasing decision, it’s easy to realise the tremendous loss in potential market share and profit that comes with not having a reliable online presence.

Unlike the rest of the world, African travellers still tend to trust their desktops over their mobiles and are more likely to do conversions (pay for travel) on their PC than their phones. However, there still lies big opportunity in being able to capture bigger market share via mobile.

Social media brings similar opportunities, said Francesca. According to data released by Phocuswire, 93% of travel buying decisions are influenced by social media.

Yetunde Bankole-Bernard, Group Executive Director Corporate Communication at Finchglow Group, who also attended this year’s Amadeus MEA Online Connect, agreed.

Yetunde Bankole-Bernard, Group Executive Director Corporate Communication at Finchglow Group together with Nezha Goundafy of Nirvana Over the World.

“There’s untapped potential in the African travel market,” she said, “especially in social media. Specifically, if you consider that some Nigerians have Instagram accounts with millions of followers.” Yetunde said there exist major opportunities for travel advisors willing to explore something like influencer marketing through these channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

Africa’s e-tourism market has shown significant jumps and will continue to grow over the next few years, according to Francesca.

Currently, there are approximately 453 million Internet users in Africa, with the percentage of the market using the Internet growing from 27.7% in 2017 to 35.2% in 2018. Click To TweetIf the percentage of Internet users continues to grow at this rate, that means that within less than ten years, all Africans would be using the Internet.

What does this mean for how you do business?

Ryan Hogarth, a speaker on digital transformation at the event, summed it up: “We can’t see digital transformation anymore, he says, “there is no longer the need to use the word ‘digital’, in fact digital transformation, is transformation.”

Check out what the Amadeus team had to say about this great event: