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Tuesday, 27 January, 2015, 18 : 00 PM [IST]

Vision 2015: Travel and Tourism - OTA & GDS

2014 saw the Indian government, which is pro-tourism, take measures to boost the industry. The most significant was the launch of Visa-on-Arrival enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). While the Centre's initiatives have spread optimism in the industry, there is a lot more to be done. That is the popular opinion among players from the industry. TravelBiz Monitor speaks to OTAs & GDS players to know what the past year was like and their vision for 2015
Emarketer predicts 2 bn smartphone users by 2016. By the end of 2014, the smartphone penetration is expected to have touched 200 mn, leading to unprecedented growth in mobile web traffic and app downloads. India has 209 mn Internet users, of which 89 mn access the Internet on their mobiles. In view of such trends and the rising shift towards frequent weekend breaks, Online Travel Agents (OTA) & Global Distribution System (GDS) players give their views for upcoming years


ankur_bhatia_id_new1.jpg
Ankur Bhatia, Director, Amadeus India
The Indian aviation industry is on a high growth trajectory. India has a vision of becoming the third largest aviation market by 2020 and is expected to be the largest by 2030. While there is sufficient reason to rejoice at the achievements and policy reforms, one should not lose sight of the short-term despair. Further, air travel has still not percolated to the masses as less than one per cent of Indian population avail it as a mode of transport. To accommodate the growing number of passengers, Indian aviation industry has been pursuing an ambitious plan to develop and upgrade its airport infrastructure and increasingly banking on new technologies to provide better customer service and experience and gain a competitive edge. Undoubtedly, the Cabinet’s decision early last year to develop new airports in Tier-I and Tier-II cities is definitely a positive move for the sector, as well as introducing Electronic Travel Authorisation (e-Visa) in a phased manner at nine airports will provide the much expected boost to the sector in India.

jeet_sawhney_id_new.jpgJeet Sawhney, Managing Director, Abacus India
We have laid broader and deeper foundations for Abacus in India which has given us the platform to deploy new solutions, thereby taking us, our customers and partners in different directions this year. We’ll be tracking the productivity and revenue gains very closely and are confident that 2015 will bring even greater prosperity to all.

This year looks to be a very exciting for Abacus India in rolling out the next generation of travel solutions while bringing in more partners to achieve the ambitious volume goals. One has been announced before the year began-Vistara, India’s latest full-service carrier which collaborated with Abacus to promote its new routes and fares before its launch.

aloke_bajpai_id.jpgAloke Bajpai, CEO & Co Founder, ixigo.com
Last year has been a mixed bag for aviation industry, but 2015 will witness increase in both Inbound and Outbound Tourism. On the hospitality side, we have seen good growth in searches and bookings online, and specifically on mobile, where the last-minute use case is driving significant bookings and pushing mobile contribution even higher than on the air side of the business.

This year will see intensified usage of apps, especially on Android platform. As we see even the lower to middle-class Indians booking online, 2015 will see a strong growth in content and services that cater to the middle and bottom of the pyramid. We expect that nearly 50 per cent of all online travel bookings in 2015 will happen on or through smartphones.

In terms of travel behaviour, we will see the search for trendy and offbeat destinations intensifying as holidays become more about clicking "braggies" with family and friends, hanging out with the locals and discovering new destinations. Japan, Singapore and India are likely to be popular destinations for 2015.

sandeep_dwivedi_id.jpgSandeep Dwivedi, Chief Commercial Officer, InterGlobe Technology Quotient (ITQ)
2014 has been a landmark year for us and we celebrated our silver jubilee in the industry. This journey has been fascinating as we have become a large conglomerate in the industry over the years, covering every domain of travel. At ITQ in particular, the year has been extremely engaging with Travelport being the first GDS to sign up with world-class low-cost airlines - Ryanair, AirAsia, and also added Malindo Air to its list of rich content.

We also launched some groundbreaking technology such as the Travelport Smartpoint - an enhanced user-friendly point-of-sale app, which reduces overall key strokes by 15 per cent and brings immense benefits to our partners and the Travelport Universal API, the first API in India to aggregate content from the GDS accommodation providers, low-cost carriers, high-speed rail suppliers, and merchandising and ancillary services through a single connection.

In 2015 we would continue to focus on new product and technology and invest in training so that we are able to support our customer requirements better. We are looking forward to more airlines making use of our merchandising platform with its rich branding content.  

neelu_singh_id_1.jpgNeelu Singh, COO, Ezeego1.com
2014 has been an eventful year for Ezeego1.com with new innovations, product launches and accolades. We have been pushing our non-air business aggressively and have grown by over 40 per cent as compared with 2013. In 2014, we launched several new domestic and international products for our customers, all of which have received tremendous response.

Last year, we tied up with G Adventures, the largest small group adventure travel company in the world, to offer socially and environmentally sensitive travel. With this partnership, our portfolio of adventure travel has expanded exponentially and our connection with Gen Y, which is one of our key target audiences, has become stronger. Franchising has been one of our key expansion strategies and we have a total of 21 franchises all over India today.

In 2015, Ezeego1.com expects the domestic sector to grow further as short weekend trips become a trend amongst Indian families. We are coming up with exciting domestic as well as international products, specifically targeted for this segment, which looks for a quick getaway every once in a while, just to break the monotony of everyday routine.

With the new government’s thrust on Religious Tourism, we are bullish about our pilgrim tours, which is a key segment for us. We will continue to tap the Tier-II and III markets through our franchise model. With several international hotel chains setting up operations in India, accommodation capacities have been expanding, thus increasing bookings. We are also strengthening our supplier network and adding more domestic packages. Ezeego1.com is looking to expand its B2B network and bring in end-to-end automation of processes.

manish_raj_id_1.jpgManish Raj, Vice President and Business Head - Corporate Travel Services, Via.com
2014 has been dynamic for us as we have noticed significant growth in our business across all verticals. Our business through the corporate channel has seen remarkable progress and has been appreciated for our service and content.

After the national elections last year, air travel bookings doubled m-o-m as compared with 2013. The Domestic Tourism growth rate has been around 40 per cent. Moreover, transactions on the international sector and MICE movements have increased by over 30 per cent. There has been a 100 per cent y-o-y growth in the hotel/holiday business and the corporate business channel. Via.com has seen good engagement with suppliers for holiday packages, both hotels and airlines. Keeping up with the pace of constant upgradation of technology as per client needs has been a challenge cum opportunity for us.

2015 is expected to be very exciting and with economy seeing upward trend. Via.com is expecting a great year ahead. We have seen our B2C business growing in 2014 and the same is expected to reach out to wider audience. We are focused to provide our booking platform to more corporations and SMEs with existing clients recommending us to other key companies in Tier-I and II cities. Via.com has also seen significant growth of over 100 per cent in the international market (growth rate has been at blended basis across products and geographies).


rajesh_magow_id.jpgRajesh Magow, Co-founder & CEO - India, MakeMyTrip
2014 was a year of investment in mobile technology. We also scaled up our mobile capabilities with vernacular offerings such as India’s first Hindi flight-booking service on mobile. Customer engagement on mobile platforms skyrocketed and our app downloads crossed over four million across mobile platforms. We also announced the institution of a USD 15-million innovation fund to support early stage companies in the travel space. The fund will focus on start-ups in travel technology with a special focus on mobile and IP-based companies. In 2015, we look forward to further capitalise on the vernacular and mobile opportunities through content and product enhancement.

subramanya_sharma_id.jpgSubramanya Sharma, Chief Marketing Officer, Cleartrip
At Cleartrip, we have seen an interesting trend around advance purchase patterns, for travel in December 2014. The volume of customers who have booked more than 40 days out nearly doubled last year. In our view, this is clearly reflective of the impact the numerous airline flash sales over the last couple of months have had on buying behaviour. Again, mobile played a great contributor to advance purchases. Cleartrip has seen almost 50 per cent of bookings for year-end travel come from smartphones, by eager travellers who gave into their travel impulse due to the cheaper fares. Top destinations continue to stay predictable on both the international and domestic routes.
 
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