A new travel trends study reveals that Virtual reality is the most appealing new technology travel booking concept in Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region according to 51% of respondents.

YouGov has unveiled the results of its latest Travel Booking Trends study on the second day of ATM 2016.

The study sought opinion from over 10,000 travellers across 21 countries in the MENASA region and was designed to understand the latest reaction to different aspects of the travel booking experience. In particular, it sought attitudes towards peer-to-peer services, the rise of travel planning services that use predictive technology to help develop itineraries and virtual reality ‘try before you buy’ technology.

Over half of respondents in the study found the concept of virtual reality very appealing, making it the most appealing technological concept to aid their travel planning and booking process. Many also indicated their interest in virtual reality as adding value to the decision-making experience with 64% willing to visit a travel store with the technology and 71% prepared to download travel specific virtual reality content to their devices. One-third also confirmed that they would book their next holiday following a positive in-store virtual reality experience.

When it comes to predictive itinerary planners, 62% of survey respondents claimed they would use predictive itinerary planning services, particularly Emiratis. In addition 43% claimed they would pay to use them, which was particularly voiced amongst respondents in South Asia. That said, 47% resisted the notion saying it would remove some of the joy of planning their next holiday, interestingly this was also particularly prevalent amongst Emiratis (65%). 71% also expressed concerns about ensuring their data was completely secure before using the concept, which was particularly voiced amongst Westerners (79%). Others were concerned about how online travel companies would use their stored data (54%), with Westerners and Emiratis the most concerned.

Certain travellers particularly enjoy planning personal holidays.  There is a sense of pride in pulling together and experiencing exactly the right trip for them and their companions.  While predictive planners in a sense represent a loss of control in planning, there is immense potential for a service that can dramatically reduce the burden of planning and maintain or even elevate the quality and value of holidays experienced.

With 62% of respondents claiming they would use a predictive itinerary planner, with Emiratis the keenest (78%), followed by Westerners (52%). It appears that within the next 12 months even more MENASA travellers will get the online travel bug.

YouGov’s 2015 Travel Oracle report for the MENASA region found that 38% of travellers booked all their travel online in 2015 because they found more options available online. Over the last 12 months 25% of leisure travellers used an online travel agent to book flights, with 19% booking online direct and just 11% booking via an offline travel agent. The report also found that 57% of travellers claimed that technology had made their travel planning and booking more spontaneous.

Peer-to-peer services, which are technology-based networks related to the hospitality/tourism industry but offering services from individuals and sold through a technology-based platform and include car booking services like Uber and online accommodation portals like Airbnb, was another area highlighted by the YouGov Travel Trends report.

Over three-quarters of respondents were aware of peer-to-peer services for booking transportation, yet current usage statistics for business and leisure travel are still fairly low, at just 15% and 12% respectively. However, when it comes to accommodation, only 55% of respondents were aware of the concept with just 9% currently using it for business or leisure purposes. On the plus side, 27% said they found the idea of using peer-to-peer taxi services very appealing, with 17% finding peer-to-peer accommodation services very appealing.