Travel increasingly moving online: Ibibo

It’s party time for travel websites. Online bookings are seeing double digit growth in spite of the low 3G penetration. According to a recent report by travel market research firm Phocuswright, India’s travel websites booked 39% of India’s travel bookings in 2014, and it’ll only go up. That puts India’s budding travel market almost at par with some of the mature ones like the US and Europe.

While air accounts for around 50% of travel revenues because of its higher average value, hotels are also catching up. Online hotel bookings grew as much as 32% in 2014! Ibibo group founder and CEO Ashish Kashyap feels there is still space for fresh categories, “Newer inventories will always be created by micro-entrepreneurs. While around 80% of the market is in the business cities, the segment is beyond budget property. It features a lot of alternate accommodation.”

Ride-sharing has picked up with players like Tripda, Blah Blah and Ryde. When asked what the possible market for it would be, Kashyap observes, “Ride replaces personal car travel. It’s the creation of a new market, and it’s expected to be huge. However, the exact potential remains unknown.”

Kashyap claims hoteliers are growing savvier with the online penetration, “Ratings, reviews and public forums mean that hotels are now increasingly conscious of the service they offer. This has led to the standardization of quality in mid rung hotels.”

Mobile continues to be the medium of choice for most, “60% of our transactions are via the mobile as opposed to 15% a year ago. That includes 45% via mobile for buses and 40% for air”, Kashyap maintains.

When asked why flights and buses are slow to pick up Kashyap replies, “These are older markets. However, we believe that in a year’s time all categories will go 80% mobile.”

Image credit: Indiatimes
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