20 October 2016

MasterCard-CrescentRating study lists key travel criteria for Muslim business travel

Source: Report cover. MasterCard, CrescentRating breakdown what Muslim business travellers want.
Source: Report cover.
Muslim business travellers are gaining more of a voice, according to research released yesterday by MasterCard and CrescentRating.

Launched yesterday at the inaugural Halal in Travel – Asia Summit 2016 which is co-organised by ITB Asia and CrescentRating, the MasterCard-CrescentRating Muslim Business Traveler Insights looks at the behaviour and preferences of Muslim business travellers across the world including Asia Pacific, Africa, Europe and the US.

With the majority of Muslims representing growing economies such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and economies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), business travel is projected to grow rapidly. The Muslim business traveller market is projected to be worth US$22 billion by 2020, representing 10% of the expected 168 million Muslim travellers in 2020 who will spend over US$220 billion. Asia and Europe are the two leading regions in the world that attract Muslim visitors – accounting for 87% of the entire market.

Source: MasterCard-CrescentRating Muslim Business Traveler Insights. Why Muslims travel. VFR=visiting friends and relatives. Religions (sic) = religious reasons.
Source: MasterCard-CrescentRating Muslim Business Traveler Insights. Why Muslims travel. VFR=visiting friends and relatives. Religions (sic) = religious reasons.

Availability of business opportunities, especially in developing countries, attracts a large number of business travellers. This segment has also seen growth contributed by the MICE sector. Most large travel agents in the GCC countries now have a separate division for MICE. Another key driver for growth in Muslim business travel is the increasing number of Muslim professionals (both males and females) now entering the workforce.

The report is based on an online survey and interviews conducted with 250 frequent Muslim business travellers from countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, US, Qatar, Sri Lanka, India, Australia, and Pakistan.

The study has revealed that the main reasons for business travel was to attend conferences or exhibitions (57%), to meet clients (45%) or potential clients (44%), with an average trip lasting between three to four days.

When planning their trips, 88% of them rely on online research – while only 44% seek advice and information from family and friends – highlighting the importance of strong digital strategies in targeting this segment. More than one in two book their own flights and hotels rather than rely on their company or travel agents.

This is the first-ever detailed report examining the travel trends and attitudes of a sub-segment of the growing Muslim travel market. It aims to provide a greater understanding of how best to market and cater to the needs of Muslim business travellers.

“Muslim business travel is a niche market on its own which is only set to grow bigger. The travel industry can reflect positively on the discoveries on insights and the trends related to business travel, which bodes well for its immediate future. It should also be recognised that improving the experience of this segment from (better) digital strategies, catering for their faith-based needs and personalised digital services, such as superior Wi-Fi connections, can be key to capitalising on this market,” said Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating and HalalTrip.

“The Muslim business travel market is expected to continue to expand over the next couple of years, alongside the growth of emerging economies such as Indonesia and Malaysia. In an effort to cater to this increasingly important segment, businesses and destinations are adapting their products and services to better suit their needs and preferences. Industry players looking to tap into this market for the first time will benefit from the insights gathered from the new Mastercard-CrescentRating Muslim Business Traveler Insights,” said Aisha Islam, VP, Consumer Products, South East Asia, Mastercard.

The research also revealed that 38% percent of Muslim business travellers spent between US$2,000 and US$5,000 per business trip, with 44% spending less than US$2,000.

The availability of prayer facilities (78%), halal dining options (71%) and Wi-Fi (67%) at airports are the top three most important services for business travellers. When booking a flight, the availability of halal food and airfare emerged as the most important considerations for Muslim business travellers.


Read more about the Muslim Business Traveler Insights report

Read the Suroor Asia blog post about Muslim travel during Ramadhan, the month of fasting

Hashtag: #HalalInTravel

*About Muslim Business Traveler Insights 2016

Respondents were travellers from a wide range of company sizes: from SMEs to large corporations. Of the 250 respondents, 73% were males and 27‰ females. Half (52%) of the travellers were C-level executives or business owners. Eighty percent have been at their current workplace/employer for more than two years. Sixty percent of them made between four and 20 business trips in 2015. Countries of origin included Malaysia, Singapore, US, South Africa, Qatar, Sri Lanka, UK, India, Canada, Australia, Germany, Denmark and Pakistan.