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Christmas, Travel and the Arab World

Christmas, Travel and the Arab World


Christmas, Travel and the Arab World

At Payfort we work with many companies in the travel industry, and we’ve found that Christmas is one of their peak periods for transactions. We decided to delve into the data with the aim of providing some insight to decision makers and marketers.

The Data

During December we see a significant peak in travel bookings and enquiries. The graph below shows bookings over a 6 month period from last year – the data is taken from a cross-section of major travel companies in the GCC and shows the number of transactions versus the average for each month.


We can see that December and January had a large number of bookings while interest dipped in February.


Revenue figures tell a similar story and the companies raked it in over Christmas. In this graph the trend is quite pronounced.

How does this rise in bookings relate to an increase in interest from the market at large?

To answer that question we looked at Google Trends to pull out some data on search volumes in 2013:



Saudi Arabia: There is a significant spike in Christmas traffic, although not compared to holidays on the Islamic calendar




Kuwait: There is a less pronounced trend but a rise in interest towards the very end of the year.




UAE: Traffic actually slumps in December before picking up towards the very end of the year


Interestingly we only see a slight correspondence between the revenue/booking data, and general interest from the market. Revenue and bookings go up during Christmas, but this isn’t a sector wide jump.

What This Means for the Travel Market in the Arab World

In Western markets Christmas is a peak time for the travel industry. Traffic often peaks on the 26th of December as people book holidays for the spring.


Global traffic: peaks correspond with the summer season and Christmas/January


In the Arab World we don’t see that pronounced trend, however, there is clearly a surge in bookings and revenue

This likely owes to expats in these markets who follow user behavior patterns that are in line with the western world, while the majority of consumers treat late December as business as usual. Christmas is peak season for part of the market, but not all.

This is a valuable insight for marketers—if expats are one of your target segments you can focus your marketing there in these next few weeks and expect higher conversion rates.

Want to learn more? Check out our SlideShare on online ecommerce in the travel and hotel sector which has tons of original insight and research.

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Dalia El Gammal

Sr.Marketing Specialist PAYFORT

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