78% of UAE travellers want comfort above all else

By Eudore R. Chand

DUBAI 14 February 2020: When it comes to a good travel experience, the most important factor is comfort, according to a new survey from Collinson, ‘Love the Journey’.

Comfort is prioritised by 78% of UAE travellers, greatly out-ranking value for money (67%) and efficiency (47%).

The survey, which will be released in its entirety later in the year, examines traveller wellbeing among more than 25,000 participants globally .

The world is travelling more than ever, with the International Air Transport Association predicting that 8.2 billion passengers will take to the sky each year by 2037. In the first half of 2019, 41.3 million passengers travelled through Dubai International Airport.

Airports Council International crowned Dubai International Airport as the world’s busiest airport for global traffic, with the aviation hub catering to nearly 90 million passengers in a period of 12 months. More passengers means bigger crowds and more stringent security requirements, adding up to longer queues and greater potential for disruption. These factors could be why travellers are increasingly prioritising comfort over more functional concerns such as cost and efficiency.

Willing to Pay

Travellers crave comfort so much that they are increasingly willing to pay for additional benefits to help them secure it. The top two upgrade options are airport lounge access 36%, and extra legroom on the plane 32%.

“Expectations of the passenger journey have evolved with comfort reigning supreme. Passengers are demanding high levels of satisfaction as part of the pre-flight experience and as international hubs become increasingly busy, airports and airlines are making it a priority to provide as seamless and enjoyable a journey as possible,” says Priyanka Lakhani, Regional Commercial Director Middle East, Africa and India.

Priyanka Lakhani

There are technological implementations being made to improve the efficiency through the airport, such as facial recognition allowing passport-less border checks, but we are also seeing a lot of investment in ensuring the most enjoyable passenger experience through the airport. In 2019 Dubai International Airport added 44 food and beverage outlets and 29 new retail experiences. Going a step further, it also now boasts its own resident DJ, frequent live concerts and access to free music streaming 24/7 for passengers travelling through its terminals- meaning their journey really does begin at the airport.”

Christopher Evans, Joint CEO at Collinson said: “For a long time, people have focused their attention on the destination, but we want people to get excited about the journey as a whole. Travel can be so much more than just a way of getting from A to B, and the industry needs to help travellers see this.”

“The competition to optimise and monetise the traveller journey is already heating up. The challenge and opportunity for travel benefit providers and airports is to understand where their propositions fit into the millions of unique travel journeys we see each day, and how they can positively impact travellers both in the moment and throughout the broader end-to-end experience.”

Evans added, “We also know that people are willing to pay, and are often impatient for, improved experiences. This is a trend we are seeing in society as a whole with the growth of the subscription economy, where people are choosing to pay individually for things they may once have waited to earn through a loyalty programme.”

“There have never been so many opportunities for travellers to sit back and enjoy the journey, from airport lounges and shopping experiences, through to spa facilities and food-delivery-to-gate services. However, our research has made it clear that above all else, people crave a journey that’s comfortable. In order to provide this, the industry has to figure out how to work effectively as part of a complex ecosystem of providers, keeping a focus on the customer and the experience. This means working collaboratively to put the love of the journey front and centre.” concluded Evans.

Collinson will shortly be announcing the winners of its annual “Priority Pass Lounge of the Year” awards, which recognises the airport lounges providing the most exceptional travel experiences. The winner is decided based on Priority Pass member reviews, providing further insight into how the world’s best lounges are going above and beyond to build more comfort into travellers’ journeys.

Dubai Gazette