Increasing Focus on Digital Bodes Well for Online Travel Services in India
Research reports reveal that Indian consumers in general avail both online and offline sources of information for booking their journeys. Among these consumers, almost 12% prefer to use offline sources for travel research, and approximately 57% consumers believe that the online platforms offer them better deals and find it more convenient to book online. With the advent of internet and emergence of artificial reality (AR), the online travel industry in India is changing rapidly due to which a growing number of Indians have turned to the convenience of the web for better travel prices and accommodations.
As smartphones have progressively become ubiquitous, mobile applications have emerged as the most critical point of interaction for consumers with any travel business, and a number of niche offerings such as medical tourism and eco-tourism are expected to create further demand for travelling. Several hotel chains and airlines are focusing on generating direct hotel bookings through their own websites and mobile applications.
Analysing the impact of online travel services on travellers
A recent research study shows that for most Indian consumers, a vacation is a well-thought through the event as planning begins several weeks in advance. On an average, travel consumers spend 49 minutes across 46 days, visiting as many as 17 different online platforms to plan, research, and make a booking. These online platforms are typically online travel aggregators (OTAs with 64% reach), search engines (33% reach), and maps (26% reach). Another intriguing fact is that almost 76% consumers gain travel inspiration from family and friends and word-of-mouth form an important input when it comes to travel bookings. Also, reviews and ratings from other users are the single most important criteria to select a certain booking channel.
Current status of the online travel industry in India
The growth in the online travel services market in India has been driven by a number of key drivers. These include the increase in disposable incomes, rise in ecommerce and growing smartphone penetration, and the Government’s initiatives to ease out on-arrival visa policies in other countries, among others. However, with increased competition, high cash burn rate, and reduced margins, the industry players in this sector have now been divided into two segments. Traditional players, which majorly started with an online ticketing service and then bloomed into different verticals. The second category is flocked by new players focussing on one unique niche such as hotel booking, weekend trips, long trip planners, last minute hotel bookings, adventure trips planners, etc.
The online travel industry in India is ripe with a multi-billion dollar scope. But success, as always, is a bumpy ride. In this journey, some start-ups such as MakeMyTrip, Goibibo, Yatra, OYO and others have already reached their initial destinations and are planning to take the next big step. Others, such as Travel Triangle, OYO are still playing catch up. To thrive in this industry, players need just three minutes to understand the micro journeys and various touch points to become a partner in the average Indian traveller’s journey.