A new report published by Euromonitor International for The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia 2015 reveals today that online travel sales to residents in Saudi Arabia showed record 40% growth in 2014 to reach SAR6.5 billion in 2015, with the figure set to double to SAR13 billion by 2019.

United Arab Emirates continued to be the most popular destination in 2014. The city of Dubai attracts a heavy number of Saudis every year.

Saudi Arabia leads the Middle East in terms of the number of internet users – 8.5million in 2014, and the Kingdom ranked first in 2014 for active Twitter users.

Nearly all of the leading hotel chains in the Kingdom have now effectively devised online purchase and payment options to encourage domestic and international tourism.

Saudi ranks third globally in terms of smartphone ownership, with a penetration rate of nearly 73%, and mobile sales for hotels experienced a 28% increase in 2014 as a result. Hotel chains in the Kingdom such as Hilton, Ramada and Courtyard Marriott now have mobile specific websites to facilitate bookings.

Geraldine Calpin, Global Head of Digital at Hilton Worldwide said: “In 2014 Hilton Worldwide rolled-out its pioneering Digital check-in and room selection globally, including all 7 hotels in Saudi Arabia; putting our guests in the driving seat and giving them unprecedented choice and control across their entire stay. A first for the hospitality industry, the scale of the digital rollout marked the largest of its kind to date across the sector. Never before have guests been able to check-in on desktop, tablet and mobile devices, select their room from a digital floor plan and customise their room ready for arrival. We are truly revolutionising the industry and this is just the tip of the iceberg for digital at Hilton Worldwide.”

To coincide with this, Hilton Worldwide has launched an update to its Hilton HHonors iOS app, bookable websites in 22 different languages, and enhanced customer service via social media. Hilton Hotels were overall the biggest gainers in the Kingdom in 2014 with market share going up to 8% compared to 7% in 2013. The company also launched its DoubleTree brand in Dharan in early 2014, while occupancy rates and average daily rates improved.

Ahmed Skaf, IT Solution Business Manager at Samsung, is speaking on Smart Hospitality Trends at the first ever Vision Conference at The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia 2015. He said: “Visitors to Saudi Arabia are now expecting much more with regards to technology. Not just from the initial booking process, but from what is available inside the hotel.”

He continued: “With increases in the number of domestic and international visitors travelling to and within Saudi, we have seen 40% growth in the number of hotels in the Kingdom adopting our smart TVs and other technologies as part of the Samsung Smart Hospitality Solution in the last 3 years. This smart technology, available in over 20 languages, provides a tailored experience suited to the culture and needs of the international visitor and is now a key factor for hotels to consider in order to remain competitive in an increasingly saturated market.”

Global technology brands including Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba, LG Electronics, LEIN Technology and Equinox Arabia will be at Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events between 3-5 May this year for The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia 2015, demonstrating leading products and services to thousands of hospitality professionals from throughout the Kingdom.

Original article source: eHotelier