Expedia boosts Middle East business by double digits in 2009

Guest Writer

Expedia boosted its Middle East business by double digits in 2009 and has already witnessed strong growth rates across the region in Q1, 2010, the online travel firm’s Vice President Emerging Markets, Murad Hajeebhoy, has revealed.
“In the first quarter, in terms of room nights, Dubai has grown 30%, Bahrain at 80%, Jordan at 300% and Saudi Arabia by a massive 581% where we are putting in one thousand plus room nights per month,” he told TDME.
Hajeebhoy said Abu Dhabi was a market to watch out for as despite the current rate war due to an influx of rooms, the destination would experience high demand once planned attractions had opened their doors.
“Plus Dubai will still grow because of the rooms coming online there - last year we saw 80% growth in this market compared to 2008,” he said.
“I still think Dubai has some of the best quality hotels in the world and such a variety - I’ve just been to the opening of Armani Hotel, which has to be located at one of the best addresses in the world, Burj Khalifa.”
Hajeebhoy also noted that in terms of Expedia’s overall business, the Middle East was gaining market share and “growing faster than other destinations”.
“It now represents a bigger piece of the Expedia pie and we are picking up volume,” he said.
“It’s gained an 8% market share for our internet business within the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.”
And business generated is across all hotel categories, with volume sales coming from three- and four-star brands and more lucrative sales generated by luxury hotel offerings, he added.
Hajeebhoy also noted how Expedia’s Easy Manage programme, introduced one year ago, had made it easier to bring on new hotels in EMEA due to its flexible commission-based partnership offering.
Since it was introduced, 5300 hotels across Expedia’s emerging markets have signed up.
Hajeebhoy said other new Expedia initiatives designed to make distribution easier for hotels included a content management system whereby hotels input and amend their own content and a soon-to-be-launched ‘Expedia Virtual Card’ (EVC).
This credit card allows hotels to charge Expedia as soon as the guest checks out making remuneration much easier than the old invoice method, he said.
Hajeebhoy has spent the last few weeks in Dubai and Africa where he attended the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), Arabian Travel Market (ATM) and INDABA.
“I didn’t attend ATM last year but I though this year’s show was quieter than in the two previous years (2007 and 2008) but there was a lot of business being transacted,” he observed.
“We did a lot of brand building and a lot of business.”

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