Expected to reach $2 billion by 2008, the online travel industry in India is attracting a number of national and international players – at less than 5% of the total industry, the potential seems enormous. According to a report by PhoCusWright, the online travel industry grew at 126 per cent from a base of $295 million in 2005 to $796 in 2006. In 2007, it is expected to record a 66 per cent growth to be a $1,325 million industry and by 2008, it will grow at 51 per cent to be a $2,004 million (around $2 billion) industry.
Moreover, the air passengers in the country increasing from 22.788 million in 2005 to 32.172 million in 2006 is both a result of the launch of a number of Low cost airlines, and testimony of a fertile economy making air travel within grasp of the average Indian. However, take a look at the bigger picture – In 2006, India attracted 4.43 million foreign tourists; the same year, around 350-400 million domestic tourists are estimated to have travelled around the country, and the still to be tapped potential in the industry jumps out.
The way forward?
- An increasing emphasis on train and road bookings – According to Applied Travel Intelligence, online car rentals and bus reservations will be an $80 million business by 2008. A couple of players in this field are Redbus and Ghumo. Indian railways, estimates 40,000 tickets sold daily over the Internet, and estimates it to touch Rs. 1,400 crore in 2007-08.
- An increased emphasis on services at the destination of travel.
- More social elements – MakeMyTrip has Oktatabyebye, Travelocity has IgoUgo, Yatra has Raahi. Think social networking?
- Offline arms to help with visa processing, etc. and online kiosks – Ezeego1, Yatra and MakeMyTrip have already started.
- Bookings via the mobile.
- I wonder if there is a possibility for segmentation here as well – say specialised travel portals for women travellers, or for religious trips, etc.
- Fare prediction engines such as Farecast or Flyspy.
I can remember the time when I used to scour through all the airlines websites, to book a ticket – then came the travel portals, and now the metasearch engines. Here’s a list of each:
Air Deccan, IndiGo, Go Air, Spicejet, Jet, Kingfisher, Indian, JetLite, Paramount Airways, Indus Air
Arzoo, Yatra, Travelocity India, Ezeego1, Makemytrip, Travelguru, Cleartrip, Ghumo, Via (formely FlightRaja), Indiatimes Travel
Zoomtra, Yahoo Farechase, Rediff Faresearch, iXiGo, Mobissimo