INDIAN consumers are increasingly going online to research and book travel itineraries, and even more are expected to do so according to a study by consultancy firm Phocuswright.
The research, which was published earlier this year, involved 2,500 travellers from higher income groups across 25 cities in India. They were required to have taken at least one overnight holiday.
Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily on the sidelines of the PATA Technology Forum on September 6, Phocuswright’s research analyst, Asia-Pacific, Chetan Kapoor, said: “40 per cent of travel bookings in India are now made online. Consumers have become confident and are embracing the Internet as a means to discover prices and information. We expect the share to reach 50 per cent in the next four years.”
Sharing more details on the study, Kapoor said OTAs are top choices for travel information and two out of three travellers are buying pre-packaged tours online.
Offline travel consultants in India are, however, not perturbed by the shift in buying behaviour and growing share of the online travel segment, believing that the market is big enough for everyone.
Deepak Narula, managing director of Aman Travel Group, said: “Indian travel business is growing so there is room for both online and offline agencies. Indian travellers want excellent services and competitive prices. An offline consultant who can provide these will survive.”
Recognising that “online business is a reality that offline consultants cannot ignore”, Ranjan Kumar Mishra, managing director of Odisha-based Eastern Voyage, advised small-sized tour operators to “focus on alternative revenue streams such as travel insurance to survive”.
Some hoteliers have also said that offline agencies remain a key channel for their business and will continue to be so in the coming years.
“We have tie-ups with many OTAs and generate good business through them. However, offline agencies are giving us healthy MICE business. Furthermore, hotels must depend on different (channels),” said Debashis Dutta, associate director, sales and marketing with The Golden Palms Hotel & Spa, Bangalore.
Read more in TTG-PATA Travel Mart 2015 Show Daily.