Skift Take

Luxury brands across all sectors are entering the Middle East to tap into the local and visitor base of high-spending customers. Their online presence is as, if not more, important than their on-the-ground services.

Hotel brands are better than retail and cosmetic companies at online engagement of customers located in Middle Eastern countries.

HiltonLe Meridien, and Rotana are the top three luxury brands in the region for digital diligence. And seven of the top ten prestige brands are global and local hotel operators.

L2 ThinkTank‘s latest digital IQ report “Middle East Prestige” ranks the digital performance of 94 luxury brands in the Middle East. Brands across several industries are ranked on the effectiveness of their websites, the success of their digital marketing efforts, their website’s mobile functionality, and their social media presence. This is the group’s first report on the region.

The top ten savviest digital brands in the Middle East are as follows:

  1. Hilton
  2. Le Meridien
  3. Rotana
  4. L’Occitane
  5. Fairmont
  6. Marks & Spencer
  7. Jumeirah
  8. Four Seasons
  9. Burberry
  10. InterContinental

The report’s research lead Ari Wolfe explains to Skift that global hotel brands have resources that help them rank above local brands.

“A lot of global hotel brands have the experience from expanding into foreign markets to take care of the low-hanging fruit in digital–they offer currency conversion in the booking process, advanced local language capabilities, region and property-specific collateral on both site and social properties, and a mobile-optimized site or app experience for travelers on the go,” says Wolfe.

“Success in the hospitality industry in the Middle East requires local know-how, so some local brands may be better equipped to serve social and dietary needs, but in the digital realm global brands are generally able to utilize their best practices from around the world.”

According to the report, these features help drive online sales. Forty-three precent of Internet users in the Gulf make an online purchase at least once month. Of the one-third of prestige brand sites with e-commerce in region, three-quarters are hotel brands.

Hotels have good reason to invest in the region: The average revenue per available room is $126.13 in the Middle East, significantly higher than $85.99 in Europe and $83.27 in Asia.

Excelling at Social and Mobile

Eighty-eight percent of the Internet users in the Middle East access social networking sites daily and Facebook is the most dominant platform. Although none of the hotel brands are in the top ten list of Middle East Facebook pages, they account for half of the top ten Twitter accounts.

Hotel brands are the only companies to consistently tweet with region-specific content, but they could improve their Facebook engagement by creating brand pages in local languages and replying to all Arabic comments in Arabic.

An excerpt of the report is embedded below:

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Tags: dubai, fairmont, hilton, intercontinental hotel group, qatar, saudi arabia, uae

Photo credit: Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. Starwood Hotels

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