Leisure and unrestricted travel have returned. The pandemic has paved the way for a new era of travel where innovation and technological advancements play a huge and significant role.
For its Halal in Travel Global Summit 2022, CrescentRating launched a virtual session titled Innovation in the Halal Tourism Platforms. As the Muslim travel industry enters the post-pandemic age of traveling, CrescentRating believed every stakeholder must have access to valuable insights from experts to navigate it effectively.
In Innovation in the Halal Tourism Platforms, CrescentRating has gathered notable figures in the industry as crucial resource speakers for our webinar, including Kamraan Siddiqui, founder of Holiday Bosnia. Mr. Siddiqui sat as the activity’s moderator.
Also joining Mr. Siddiqui are Ufuk Seçgin (Chief Marketing Officer, HalalBooking), Dr. Hussain Sunny Umar (Managing Director, Maldives Halal Travel & Halal Weekly), and Raudha Zaini (Strategic Partnerships & Projects Lead, CrescentRating & HalalTrip).
Even before COVID-19 became a global health crisis, consumers—including travelers—have become increasingly skeptical of traditional marketing strategies.
As the access to the internet and information continues to expand, more and more audiences have become less receptive to advertisements and other traditional marketing methods. The travel industry is not spared by this challenge.
In terms of planning vacations, our panelists highlighted a growing number of Muslim travelers who take it upon themselves to collect the information they need in coming up with decisions.
When travel resumed after two years of lockdowns, stakeholders are also reminded of multiple changes in consumer behavior which altogether has created a significant impact on the travel industry. Travelers nowadays spend more time on online apps and on the internet to research, build their itineraries, and make bookings for their next tips. As a result, they suggested for Muslim travel industry players embrace and adapt innovation and learn how to be flexible to changes around them.
During the Innovation in the Halal Tourism Platforms forum, experts shared several valuable insights that might help players of the Muslim travel industry to be innovative and ultimately get through the post-COVID era of traveling.
The panelists all agreed that stakeholders should keep leveraging online channels, like social media platforms, to generate exposure and build awareness for destinations, experiences, or properties.
Citing the latest surveys, Dr. Hussain Sunny Umar said that around 4 billion people use the internet regularly—of which approximately half tune in to social media platforms.
“We are mostly focusing on the digital side. Most of our work, around 90%, is done online,” added Dr. Sunny.
Dr. Sunny has also shared how Maldives Halal Travel & Halal Weekly maximizes the internet’s potential not only to promote destinations in Maldives for Muslim travelers, but also to foster connections and partnerships with other stakeholders. For instance, they have successfully created content to inform Muslim tourists from the United States, Russia, India, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states about the frequency of direct flights to Maldives. The campaign, said Dr. Sunny, involved partnering with several companies, including airlines.
Muslim travelers would always seek more information about a destination, experience, or property to suit their faith-based needs. Therefore, prioritizing Halal-related content and enabling Halal-related filters would come in handy. In doing so, Ufuk Seçgin of HalalBooking suggested that industry players ensure their platforms are equipped with Halal-related information—from food offerings to seclusion areas for female Muslim guests.
“I would say our most important aspect is the Halal content,” said Seçgin.
Seçgin highlighted the importance of data and other information about Halal-related services saying these would serve as the basis for stakeholders to provide more selections and options for Muslim travelers.
While information gathering can be time-consuming, the expert from HalalBooking said they need to prioritize accuracy and credibility over everything else.
“It’s not easy. It takes a lot of time, but obviously, you want to get it right. You want to show the correct content to your customers,” Seçgin stressed.
In HalalBooking’s case, he shared that they have collected Halal-related information from at least 30,000 properties around the world. Seçgin said by the end of 2022, they are aiming to show Halal content from over 50,000 properties.
Muslim travelers may have started hitting the road and visiting destinations again. However, according to our experts, stakeholders must not completely abandon the chance of providing immersive and enriching experiences on their online platforms.
HalalTrip's very own Raudha Zaini explained in the webinar that players must have the capacity to provide a holistic experience even in the digital realm. As HalalTrip’s Strategic Partnerships & Projects Lead, Zaini shared that they took into consideration three, major factors when it comes to running the platform. These are technological, community, and visitor experiences.
“Our focus was more on rethinking the customer journey and experience on the app,” she added.
Zaini also said that getting feedback from users helped HalalTrip a lot in staying relevant online.
User feedback and visitor insights have also played crucial roles in helping the traveling industry carve the right path toward innovation. Our panelists agreed that allowing users to submit their reviews about a destination, property or service can come in handy for the platforms themselves as this will enable them to reach out to more potential travelers. Experts pointed out that in today’s age of information, travelers rely on reviews and other testimonies when planning their trips.
Last but not least, members of the Muslim traveling industry must embrace and adapt to new, innovative opportunities around them. Our key source speakers all shared the same sentiment—the best way in bringing out innovation on Halal tourism platforms is to adapt and be flexible to trends and changes.
The road to innovation may not be smooth but with the right insights and know-how, industry players in Halal travel can emerge better and stronger. The hope of this session on innovation is to be a big help to all members of the Muslim travel sector, especially in the upcoming brighter days ahead.