Published on : Thursday, February 7, 2013
Wego, the travel metasearch engine in the Asia Pacific and Middle East is establishing a dedicated full-service operation in Dubai as part of its global expansion strategy following a year of record growth in the region.
Wego launched the world’s first comprehensive Arabic language travel metasearch site last April, http://www.wego.ae in recognition of the desire amongst travellers to compare their travel options and book online. Internet users across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have since adopted the site in huge numbers, already equivalent to the total from the company’s mature European sites.
Wego operates over 50 websites in 30 languages around the world, managing many millions of flight and hotel searches each month. Travellers in the Middle East and North Africa now account for one in every seven searches on the site.
Given the scale of the demand, Wego has established new regional headquarters in the prestigious Dubai Internet City, appointing travel industry veteran and entrepreneur Mohamad Ibrahim Masri to further develop the strategy and lead the team as Managing Director – Middle East and North Africa. He brings 16 years of regional experience to the company, in sales, marketing and management roles with some of the industry’s leading brands, including Singapore Airlines and Tourism Malaysia. Masri also founded BizGate, the consulting firm that has represented Wego throughout the initial launch phase.
“Essential to the continued expansion and success of Wego in MENA is strong management, along with an established relationship with both the business and travelling communities which is why we’re very excited to have Mohamad join our executive team. We look forward to working in partnership with the Governments and suppliers in the region to broaden access to travel online,” explained Ross Veitch Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wego of Masri’s role.
Wego’s expansion to the Middle East provides great leverage for our operations in Asia and India in particular. Being Emirates’ number one destination, India accounts for over one in every 5 international flight searches and one in every 8 international hotel searches from Dubai. The Middle East contributes to a significant 30% of India’s inbound hotel guests on Wego, and hence the market is of immense significance to us”, said Jackson Fernandez, Country Manager, Wego India.
“Arab travelers embrace Wego as a means to gain control of their travel plans and enjoy greater value for money. The travel comparison shopping concept has huge appeal among internet users in the region, who are almost universally regular travelers,” commented Masri. “We are working with the flagship carriers, hotel brands and online travel agents across the Middle East, but the priority is going to be further integration and customization to meet the burgeoning demand right into the long tail.”
Looking ahead, Masri refers to PhoCusWright’s prediction that the online travel sector in the Emirates alone will grow 24 per cent in 2013 and 22 per cent in 2014 to reach $9.5 billion, of which online travel agents will produce $3.2 billion. Wego is expected to be on an even higher trajectory driven also by direct bookings with its airline partners including Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways, integrated hotel sites and aggregators, such as Booking.com.
Collectively, MENA travelers using Wego today are exploring options at over 3,500 destinations. Their searches include the inventory of 600 full service and low cost airlines, 350,000 hotels and resorts, as well as 400,000 recently integrated vacation rentals.
Wego compares over 700 travel sites to present its comprehensive results.
Wego Dubai joins a network of offices across Asia Pacific as the company scales its operations in new premises in Singapore, Bangalore and Jakarta. The company currently employs 75 specialist staff speaking 35 languages.