The travel ecosystem is already making a comeback after a disruptive event that has impacted every industry. Travellers are again taking to the skies for business, leisure, and even bleisure. UNWTO World Tourism Barometer shows a 182% year-on-year rise in international tourism for the first quarter of 2022, with destinations worldwide welcoming an estimated 117 million international arrivals compared to 41 million in the first quarter of 2021.
Collinson, a global leader in traveller experiences, recently performed a study of nearly 2,000 frequent travellers in the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, revealing some interesting insights. The analysis found that the region’s recovery was already robust in 2021, indicating a bright future.
More precisely, UAE travellers have taken an average of four return trips in 2021, representing a 67% recovery from their pre-pandemic average of six. In KSA, travellers averaged eight return trips in a typical pre-pandemic year (2019) and took an average of five return trips in 2021, representing a 63% recovery.
Airport lounge popularity is astounding
According to Collinson’s research, the usage of airport lounges is exceptionally high in the region. As an indication, 98% of respondents in KSA and 95% in UAE have accessed airport lounges in the past.
Furthermore, Priority Pass, the original and market-leading airport lounge and travel experiences programme, owned and operated by Collinson, has a strong reputation in both the UAE and the KSA. In this view, 76% of UAE and 66% of KSA respondents are aware of Priority Pass. The research saw the same results for LoungeKey – a Collinson proposition designed specifically for payment cards, enabling banks to provide their customers with a seamless airport experience globally.
The survey also examined how travellers in the UAE and KSA perceive travel rewards and benefits, as well as how valuable airport lounge benefits are when offered by their card providers. Interestingly, 80% of KSA and 76% of UAE travellers said they would use a card more often if it offered travel rewards or benefits.
The three most popular travel benefits among respondents in the UAE are loyalty rewards (62%), airport lounge access (58%), and frequent flyer rewards (56%). The findings in the KSA are remarkably similar, with loyalty rewards (58%), frequent flyer rewards (57%), and airport lounge access (55%).
Access to an airport lounge in the case of a flight delay, as well as personal identity fraud protection, are also within the top five benefits available to cardholders. Collinson’s solutions can help address both. As airport delays and disruptions can be exhausting and frustrating, SmartDelay turns flight delay stress into ‘lounge rest’. Collinson’s identity protection solution, ID Sentry, offers travellers full assistance with protecting their identities at all times, anywhere in the world, and on all devices.
Customer retention through elevated travel experiences
While travel benefits can help retain customers, research reveals that more than a third of respondents in both the UAE and the KSA would gladly switch to a new card provider for a more premium, digitally enabled, and flawless travel experiences.
Collinson continues to push the boundaries of travel experiences by introducing new innovative solutions to the market, tailored to the more demanding travellers of the new era. The CarTrawler offering is one of those services that adds value for Priority Pass customers particularly those who appreciate the comfort and convenience of a seamless end-to-end travel experience.
Priyanka Lakhani, Senior Vice-President at Collinson, stated: “As a significant number of cardholders are open to using more products and services from their everyday card provider, now is the time to capitalise on this opportunity and double down on proactively expanding and providing more comprehensive solutions. Offering travel benefits on a credit or charge card not only enhances the cardholder experience but also drives transaction revenue, as almost three out of four customers (78% in the KSA and 74% in the UAE) would use them for travel-related spending.”