As hospitality marketing becomes more data-driven, and destinations and hospitality providers become more aware of the Arab traveler as the optimal customer segment, it’s only natural that they start to find ways to better accommodate and retain this high spending tourist type. Adapting for the Muslim and Arab traveler is a rewarding transition that will yield high returns. In this blog, we outline the Muslim Arab traveler’s psychology and consumer behavior so you can view things as they do. Although a large majority of Arabs adhere to Islamic religious obligations, there are still those that don’t. This blog covers the needs of those Arab travelers looking to have a “halal” vacation.
What Does the Arab Traveler Look For When Traveling?
Note that we use Arab traveler and Muslim traveler interchangeably in this blog. Although not all Arabs are Muslim, a large majority of them are. For a while, Malaysia, Turkey, and UAE were the most visited countries by Arab travelers for the widespread availability of all of the below-mentioned features. Without further ado, here they are:
Food constitutes a large part of any trip, especially when it comes to sampling local delicacies. Most Arab travelers can’t simply eat any food, and that’s because they’re of the Muslim faith. If you’ve had Muslim friends, then you are most likely aware that ham and pork are off the menu since Muslims can’t eat pig meat. But the truth of the matter is a bit more complicated. Even the meat of animals usually consumed by Arabs is prohibited in certain circumstances. Furthermore, the list of forbidden foods extends well beyond pigs.
What can Muslims Eat?
There’s a simple rule one can use to identify what Muslims can eat. Here it is: The animals that Muslims are forbidden to consume are wild animals with fangs, and birds with talons that use them to catch prey and eat carcasses (therefore making birds such as chickens and ducks acceptable to the Muslim). Everything else is permissible.
The topic can be convoluted as there are types of crows that eat only carcasses and other farm crows that don’t. In that case, the farm crow is edible while its larger scavenger counterpart is not. Furthermore, off-putting animals such as bats are prohibited, but all animals that live in the sea (this excludes crocodiles since they live on land) are permissible.
Secondly, the way the animal has been slaughtered also plays a role. Even an animal that is permissible can be made impermissible if it is not slaughtered correctly. How must animals be slaughtered for a Muslim to consider them safe to eat? A ritual slaughter must be conducted by a Muslim person who faces the animal in the right direction before saying an Arabic invocation and slaughtering the animal quickly and painlessly. Sea creatures need not be slaughtered, and they are the only food category that is permissible to consume when found already dead. Moreover, animals slaughtered by Christians or by Jews (a.k.a Kosher food) are also permissible for the Muslim.
Muslims pray five times a day, and although the obligation to pray while travelling is made more flexible and shortened, the need to find a quiet and suitable place away from prying eyes is still very present. But before the actual performance of an obligatory prayer, ablution or a ritual wash is customary for Muslims. Special ablution taps in the washrooms will make the Muslim traveller feel at home. Further to this point, Muslims wash themselves after going to the loo, so the availability of water in the toilet, and a mechanism to utilize that water is another great addition. A small showerhead toilet spray will do this well.
Although a travel prayer mat can suffice when a need to pray arises for this traveler type as Muslims can pray anywhere. Having a suitable place to pray at their convenience will greatly affect this customer segments satisfaction rates as they feel more welcome. This can come in the form of simply allotting a room with a large enough carpet to carry many people, and a sticker on the roof or wall to show travelers where to pray towards, this direction is known as the Qibla. There will be a need to have separate rooms for each gender, which leads us to our next point.
Different Gender Recreation Facilities
Muslim men and women don’t mix if they aren’t family or married. Their houses are designed in a way where there is an area allotted for female guests, and another for male guests. In some cases houses are designed with two separate entrances – one for each gender. The same concept extends to recreational activities. Spas for example must have separate quarters for each gender, especially as seeing that both genders will be mildly dressed on these occasions.
Some locations have allotted an “only-female” beach to cater for the Arab traveler, and travel platforms like the Halal Travel Guide have a whole trip category that is female-only. Having shared facilities for things that are less sensitive such as a tour on a bus, isn’t that big a deal, although some families will insist that non-family member males cannot be seated next to their female family members. It’s important to be cognizant of this especially when planning seating arrangements.
No Alcohol Near the Muslim Arab Traveler
It is a given that Muslims do not drink. But it’s also a fact that they don’t like to be surrounded by people who drink. This is especially true for family travelers as parents try to prevent their children from even witnessing drunk behavior and all that entails it. This does not necessarily mean that accommodation and event managers need to drop alcohol from the menu altogether (it can however be explored as an option if they decide to target exclusively Muslim Arab travelers), but simply outlining an “alcohol free zone” will suffice. Interestingly enough, sites like Halal Bookings, offer an option for Muslim travelers to place their bookings in Hotels that are alcohol free.
Modestly Dressed Caterers and Waiters
The same way Muslims like to dress moderately, they also like to be surrounded by those who do the same. Having a dress code for your employees that covers the chest and thigh areas well will aid greatly with that.
Gulf Reps and the Arab Traveler
Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East, with over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Specializing in directing the Arab traveler segment to your region or destination, we have served clients on six continents, delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships plus our eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.
To find out more about our services, you can call us at +971 (0)4 703 6333 or write to us at email@example.com