By Naguib Toihiri, head of marketing, RBBi
In recent years, traveler behavior has shifted dramatically with the Internet, especially when it comes to booking a trip. The digital space is now considered by many to be the main arena where airlines, online travel agencies, travel bloggers and airline review sites compete with one another for top ranking positions.
Over the past 10 years, search engines such as Google have evolved with newer and more engaging ways to access information, especially for the airline industry. For example, they have made it easier for users to obtain real-time pricing for individual routes or use flight comparison websites such as Expedia or ClearTrip, comparing flight prices across a variety of airlines so users can benefit from the most competitive fares.
The majority of travelers in the region use a search engine as their first starting point for travel information.
The online customer experience has been dramatically enhanced over the last five years through the development of new services and features. These updates have a significant effect for airlines, with features such as Google Flights, the Knowledge Graph, and Google City Guides, making it easy for travelers to quickly access all the travel information they need.
As there is no recent research into search marketing for airlines in MENA, Red Blue Blur Ideas (RBBi), an agency based in the GCC, conducted a case study called the State of Search in MENA Airlines Industry, which for the first time analyzes the GCC’s major air carriers in order to assess the overall organic visibility online and whether the increasingly positive passenger experience offered by these carriers is replicated online.
The study has revealed some really interesting data that can help players in the aviation industry as well as other brands improve their online visibility and create a strong online presence for marketing success:
Middle Eastern airlines that want to improve their online visibility and build strong customer relations should take advantage of SEO opportunities such as a mobile-first approach, Arabic content localization, local search optimization as well as optimization of their video presence online.
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