News Column

Revolutionising travel

August 7, 2014

THE ubiquitous smartphone is revolutionising travel. Mobiles have quietly arrived and are forcing those in the industry to adapt. Or they lose out. It goes without doubt that tourism is one of the world's largest industries, responsible for some $ 6 trillion in direct and indirect economic impacts.

These were some of the observations made at the Internet and Mobile Association of India ( IAMAI) travel and tourism summit held in the Capital on Wednesday. The entire process of travel has become seamless and organised both for customers and businesses. While businesses can enjoy more customer engagement, customers reap better offers. " Mobile travel is here to stay.

There is likely to be 80 million smartphone users by end of 2014," says Sharat Dhall, President, Yatra.

A Prosper Mobile Insights poll revealed that 98 per cent of people they had polled took their smartphones and tablets with them on vacation, while 80 per cent of this group mentioned that they used them " all the time". Not surprisingly, some of the largest online travel companies already report a significant percentage of their bookings via mobile. " Mobile has become the game changer in travel industry. Mobile today is fastest growing channel in India with 330 million mobile Internet users expected by 2015. About 50 per cent of Google search related to travel is happening on mobiles and 13 per cent of our total transaction happens via mobile," says Rajesh Magow, CEO, MakeMy Trip.

" We want to make travel as simple as buying a book. We want to remove frustrations and be the one single place travellers can come instead of 30 different websites to go to. India is a key focus market for us as we see an immense opportunity in mobile bookings related to travel. We have 18 partners in India and with growing smartphone users, our interest in this market is definitely increasing," says Andy Sleigh, General Manager, Asia Pacific.

Even flight bookings have gone mobile. " Indian carriers produce revenue of close to $ 10 billion annually, whereas global carriers generate revenue of close to $ 6.3 billion. The entire process of travel has become seamless and it is evident from the fact that 50 per cent of air tickets are booked online," Pramod Sahni, Advisor, Turkey Tourism.

" Internet is essential for inspiring new travellers. We have seen 52 per cent consumers, research online before transacting," says Vishwadeep Baja, CEO, ValueFirst Digital Media.

" Hotel bookings are driven by online research. Hotel reviews by local are a driving factor in selecting a particular property. It is interesting to see that 30 per cent of India'sTripAdvisor users are coming to the site using their mobile device," adds Nikhil Ganju, country head, TripAdvisor.

IRCTC also has acknowledged the mobile giant. " We are launching our Blackberry app this month; in September we will come up with our android app. After all, we book over 10,000 tickets per minute, our expectation was around 7,200 tickets per minute," says Rajni Hasija, Group General Manager, IT, IRCTC. Despite the promises, the segment is not without its challenges. " Mobile marketing is still a new concept in India and the translation from web to mobile should be made seamless.

Connectivity could be a problem in our country. The platform is fragmented and the ecosystem is still not yet matured in travel space as far as mobile is concerned," says Magow.

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Source: Mail Today (India)

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