s p e c i a l s u p p l e m e n t : p h o c u s w r i g h t c o n f e r e n c e , n e w d e l h i , m a r c h 2 0 1 7 b r i n g i n g t o g e t h e r s t a k e h o l d e r s o f t h e b i g g e r p i c t u r e phocuswright conference runs a packed house google to simplify offerings, for consumers and service providers, create a more seamless experience phocuswright conference showcases the indian opportunity buy and sell at the online travel & technology showcase google has a lot rolled up their sleeves. at a time when innovation has become cornerstone to taking travel anwwd tourism to the next level , the online search engine intends to simplify offerings, not only for consumers but for service providers, to create a more seamless experience. rob terres, managing director, travel at google opened up on several ongoing projects in the technology giant and how constant innovation, especially nuances like voice assist, was going to forever alter the way consumers look at travel and tourism. we bring you excerpts of his one-on-one interaction with lorraine sileo of phocuswright in tourismfirst special edition. turn to page 25. 21-23 september call: +91 97177 64717 email: email@example.com the second edition of phocuswright conference in india kicked off with a well-attended networking session over cocktails. the theme of the conference is taking stock of the apac region, and the opportunities that remain unexplored – which is being fuelled by burgeoning economies in the region, most notably india, china and indonesia. it is in this backdrop that the conference has come to india, says virendra jain, director, business development, asia pacific. “we only do regional conferences. phocuswright conference in india is the regional conference for the apac region. we had options; we could have done this in hong kong, singapore, but it is india which is standing out as a silver lining in 2015, shining armour now in 2017, among all the emerging market economies, we wanted to showcase the asiapac region’s market opportunity,” he said. adding that india stood out as an economic opportunity in the region and the conference is an opportunity, he said “idea was to bring out and showcase the indian opportunity and do a regional conference. any one who is willing to be a part of the asian opportunity must come and join us at the phocuswright conference.” raj rana says it is the mid-scale segment where inventory is lacking, carlson adding 12 hotels per year lorraine sileo, phocuswright inc. met with raj rana, ceo south asia, carlson rezidor hote l group . we bring you excerpts from their conversation . “india is not really a market but a combination of many micro markets where there are diverse cultures, different languages, different food and different expectations from the guest”, started rana. s ome of the other facets about operating in india include d the regulatory tasks such as permits and the bureaucrat ic process and that india is also a country where re- lationships are still paramount. it therefore makes it important to select the right partners. “if you get that right then half the battle is won”. one must also understand that “value has to be delivered not only to your company but also to who is across the table and that means all the stakeholders. it is not only the owners who invest and put in the millions of dollars but also the vendors, the guests, the suppliers, the platforms used. you have to work co- hesively with each of them”. as a brand, on their current push, he said “we find that the mid-scale segment is where the inven- tory is lacking and also the return on investment is better”. companies like oyo and treebo , he said, are creeping up in this segment and can pose challenges in the budget and mid-scale hotels. rana added that today loyalty is not only about a lower rate but about understanding the guest and creating an experience. for this, carlson rezidor does rely immensely on data and data analysis. “today’s marketing budgets have a lot of focus on the right digital spend. however, the moment of truth is when you interact with the guest and that is where the empower- ment of your employees comes in”. so, what next for the brand? “our current run rate is to sign a hotel every 4 weeks and open one every 6 weeks in india. we usually open 9-10 hotels and sign about 12 hotels every year”. they also introduce a lifestyle brand, radisson red, next year in mohali.
2 tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce traditional products need online outreach, advocates suman billa, js, mot online promotion of tourism assets, products and destinations, provide value to every constituent of the larger tourism industry. this symbiotic relationship needs to be leveraged by traditional players, suggests joint secretary suman billa. the phocuswright conference is just about to come up. how is the mot planning to incorporate technology to promote destination management among other things? could you give us an idea about how other countries are taking this into account while promoting their destinations? broadly, this needs to be looked at from two levels. one is what the mot itself should be doing, which is, if you look at the way the world is progressing, i think digital is the way that is increasingly connecting people. most of the decisions and drilling down for information to take decisions is happening in the digital space. it is necessary for us to change the paradigm from something that is broadly print or tv oriented to something that is digital. for mot, which has the mandate to promote india as a tourism destination, i think it is fairly clear that it needs to take the digital path. some of the things that we have done over the past year include us getting an excellent social media team which is working with us to create a base of followers who are across the world, which enables us to pitch up several things to them. there are on an average around ten posts like places of interest, cuisines etc. that are going out every day. this is bringing in a signifi- cant amount of transaction and it also allows able to personalise that information, and is able to present it in a way that is easily digestible. will the new revamped website only have personalised information or are you also looking at a possibility of allowing the consumers to book products through the site? these are two different things. the first is for information dispensing and the second is the commercial aspect. i do not think that the mot should look to convert the site into a commercial engine because there are different players in the market and while promoting the destina- tion works for everybody, once you start operating the site commer- cially, there are bound to be some losers as well as gainers. we need to keep the playing field level. that is why i do not think that we will be heading into the commercial space. what we are looking to create is something like an indian associa- tion of tour operators, where the leads are generated and enquiries can be addressed. the second and the more important part is the larger mandate that we have. we have to suman billa joint secretary, ministry of tourism it is a very straightforward way to communicate your offerings and costs to the customers. i think a significant part of the traditional industry also needs to scale up and move on to the digital space not only to survive but also take this business to the next level. they need to look at the market and understand what the market offerings are and then create their own niche. from a marketing perspective, the players really need to understand the power of social media and its reach, especially for small businesses. ,, traditional industry needs to scale up and move on to the digital space not only to survive but also take this business to the next level. us to reach out to people who are interested in india. i think over the next year what we are trying to do is to not only consolidate all of this, and also increase the number of followers, or the critical mass that we have generated. we have managed to reach a stage where we are fairly consolidated, but at the same time we need to be able to take it to the next level. the other thing, which is something that we are working on, is to develop a strong website because it is easy to get people interested on social media but also necessary to have a lead which goes somewhere. in the back-end, we need to have a very strong and robust website which has compre- hensive information. this leads to the social media platform becoming an effective teaser and the website becoming the major source of all the information. it needs to be like an ency- clopaedia. we are completely re-working our strategy and the platform is being completely changed. the idea is to create a website that does not just convey information but is also look into getting our industry it ready as the landscape is witnessing a huge change. a significant amount of services in the tourism space are now being delivered via the digital medium. products like oyo rooms and airbnb are actually commoditising not just the hotel product but also products that go beyond, like home stays. transport is also wit- nessing a similar shift to the digital medium. it is a very straightforward way to com- municate your offerings and costs to the customers. i think a significant part of the traditional industry also needs to scale up and move on to the digital space not only to survive but also take this business to the next level. they need to look at the market and understand what the market offerings are and then create their own niche. from a market- ing perspective, the players really need to understand the power of social media and its reach, especially for small businesses. there is always an opportunity for them to reach out to people who are interested in their products. some of the work that we will need to do over the next couple of years is going to be on how do we get on-board this model. it is said by some people in the industry that social media outreach in international markets costs a fortune. do you think the lead will have to come from the mot itself as it has the resources and budget to push this? over several months ago, we conducted a workshop here and invited players from the industry to have a discussion on how to leverage the social media. the cost of buying promoted space in social media is definitely exorbitant. there is some amount of critical mass that is generated organically but we also on the same hand need to move into a space where we can get more eyeballs. it probably is not easy for some of the small players to be able to put up that kind of money but what can be done is that as social media is a very democratic space, they may use our content to promote their products. so, even if people are looking at our content, it still helps smaller players piggy back on that content and get a higher reach. in doing so, they are actually creating greater amplifica- tion for us as well. essentially, it is beneficial for everyone involved. all of us need to realise that if we have to grow, we will need to take an active position on social media and also promote each other. we are very open on content and we have already told the industry that we will not be putting up any commercial content. we are ready to share good content even if it is not produced by us as our mandate is to promote all of india. everything is being driven by mobile apps these days. how do you see tourism and travel taking the mobile route? what is the future like and how is the mot tapping that space? well, i think the writing is on the wall. the first point of reference for any data these days is happening through mobiles. in this sce- nario, one cannot afford to sit out and not be involved. there are a few things that we are doing to gain space in the mobile platform. one is this new website that we are devel- oping. we are spending a comprehensive amount on developing this site and ensuring that it is mobile friendly. also, we are trying to develop the website so that it can translate content on the fly. it is never going to be a case where the mot can create all of the apps that are required to make tourism work. we need to create a framework from which we are able to pick the best apps that are out there and if they work we can help them out by endorsing these apps. at the cocktails, attendees get down to serious networking on the inaugural day of phocuswright conference
tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce 3 senior industry leaders back diligent corporate governance; ask founders to drive implementation on the importance of good corporate governance and why it remains pivotal ankur bhatia, executive director, bird group we are a privately held company; family held. the board constitutes for most of the companies between me and my brother, or me and my mother. we hold proper board meetings, and have a company secretary. i think we have realised the value of actually doing that; getting the management involved as well. we do not run our companies. we have the ceos running the company. they report to the board, and direction is then given on. so, there is a structured presence. we had some independent directors earlier, but at the moment we do not. we are in the process. what i can say is that it changes the dynamics of the future. i think it is very important to look at corporate governance. we are looking at that. rod cuthbert, ceo, rome2rio i would say, even for a small company, it is tremendously valuable for them to go through the steps and the discipline of having an outside director, or two, and having a board meeting, because your team did not in those circumstances think about your company in a different language. you get different questions; the focus will shift. people will ask questions and make observations that your colleagues inside the company, on a day-to-day basis, will not make. so, i would say that even if you are a tiny startup, go through the process of having somebody independent, outside of the company who is not under your umbrella. who does not really care about the internal politics and that sort of stuff; who will just come in and help you examine the health of your business. sumit jain, partner, kalaari capital one of the things that i have found with board meetings is that nobody loves surprises, especially negative surprises. so, never surprise your board, more so in a negative way. it is unavoidable to not get a negative surprise once in a while, but try it not to be the norm. the other thing is that there are founders and teams that take the board seriously, and then there are others who take the board too seriously, almost to the extent of asking them to share what is it that the teams should do. what next shall i do in business? i think founders and teams could do well if they use the boards for addressing their best experiences and ask them what they think eventually is right for their businesses – and not just try and keep the board happy, because that is not why you started the company for. mayank khanduja, principal, saif partners one of the few things that i have seen is that one of the best board meetings are the ones where the founders have a clear agenda and they are driving the agenda of the board meeting. they have a plan of what to do, and what all needs to be discussed, because quite often when there is a board meeting and the founder has not come with a clear plan to discuss something, everybody will try and get the team to talk about what is important to them. all good intentions, but we find that the founders have not driven the agenda. founders must focus on what is most important to them. that is the most critical thing for the company. delegates speak on various issues in the online space in the outbound scenario, in the last 12 months, a lot of migrations have happened to the international market. for example, if you want to look at kerala as a holiday destination, you have to spend approx rs. 50,000 for a holiday. comparatively, thailand, sri-lanka, bhutan etc. are much more affordable. in that sense, i think business is now shifting to the international market. ,, i know the conference is focussed towards travel and technology but the message that i am giving to the industry is that cloud pms is now an essential part of technology. earlier, it ended at channel managers. now, pms has become an integral part, and has changed form. it is a tool that drives business to your hotel, and travel technology is all about that – creating demand for the hotel. hence, we are here. you will not see very many pmss over here. we are here. ,, all our focus so far has been on europe or the united states. we are now trying to expand to asia. we have been attending phocuswright conference in europe as well as in the united states and it has been very successful for us, so this event right here was an obvious choice. the numbers may be small compared to what we are doing in europe but they are still ,, significant. finding an option that matches with your travelling preference and plans is a hard task and time consuming. it is kind of like being stuck in a loop between the options you find on the internet and the company policy. in the end, the consumer ends up booking what is available. insteract is an online travel platform for planning your business travel. it makes the process precise, convenient and transparent. it is a tool designed for corporates. ,, toby robertson global business development manager, airhelp balaji ramakrishnan co-founder and ceo, insteract tech saravanan ramasamy associate vice president – revenue, holidayiq.com aditya sanghi co-founder and ceo, hotelogix
4 tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce apac region remains robust; china leads the mobile revolution, says chetan kapoor chetan kapoor of phocuswright spoke on the developments in the global political landscape, impacting travel and tourism industry at large. he showed confidence in the apac region – which has yet maintained its robust character, unfazed by global upheavals. excerpts of his presentation: a gloomy global scenario raises many questions the year 2016, nasa announced it as the warmest year on the earth’s surface since modern record keeping began in 1880. while the barometer was rising high, tensions also rose in several parts of the world. the syrian refugee crisis, brexit, multiple terrorist attacks across europe etc. these are all events which impacted our industry. and while we thought that the worst was behind us, 2017 was not off to the best of starts. decisions were made, which would probably have an impact on both business and leisure travel. and while the western travel market go through a lot of roller coasters and face a lot of uncertainty, we decided to do a quick poll among european travelers to figure out their intent to travel to the us in light of recent events, and surprisingly the results were not so good. anywhere between a fifth to a third of european travelers are now indicating that they are less likely to travel to the us. apac remains robust amidst global uncertainties so, where does that put apac in the entire scenario? while not totally isolated from global events, apac still is on a relatively sound footing. to begin with, apac is still the biggest market globally in terms of cross bookings. far ahead of europe and slightly ahead of the us. its online travel market, while still young, continues to grow at twice the rate compared to its peer in europe. a lot of people in the industry tend to relate gdp growth to the potential of the travel market. it is by all means a correct indicator but it is no way the only one. for example, while china and india may be at opposite ends of the gdp spectrum, the ground reality when it comes to the travel market potential is completely different. already, china is the second largest travel market in the world, only behind the us whereas india recently took over australia and new zealand as the 3rd largest travel market in apac. in these fast growing economies, with disposable incomes on the rise, travel is also coming up the orders in terms of discretionary spend. we have been doing consumer surveys in apac for a better part of the past one and a half years and while domestic travel still holds strong in most of the markets we are seeing that, increasingly travelers are going behind borders in markets such as australia, malaysia and china. almost one in two travelers went overseas for their last pleasure trip and the figure is only slightly less in other parts of the region. these figures somehow even compare to the travel trends in europe and the us. the mobile revolution now, you cannot have a conversation about apac travel market without talking about the mobile travel revolution. apac is truly the world’s most dynamic mobile travel market and china by far is leading the race. china is the world’s first mobile majority online travel market with over 50% of its online bookings being done via mobiles. it is primarily the intermediaries who are behind these revolutions. aggregates across apac suggest that 55% of all mobile bookings went through intermediaries. in india, 86% of mobile bookings were powered by otas. delegates speak on various issues in the online space the intention of coming here was to understand what travel has to offer now. so, the takeaway here is that a lot of digitisation is happening – and the customer is getting a platform for even visualising where he is going to stay with technology like 3d. again, such developments will help us picth in better sales. apac is the in thing right now. as the online travel industry develops, and the way it is now structured, it was not a few years ago. therefore, apac. ,, amit khanna vice president, easemytrip.com gaurav chiripal ceo, quadlabs technologies if you see, phocuswright asia conference which is happening right now is a great platform to bring in all these industry leaders onto the same platform. so, what we see is that it is more like a networking event and an eye opener for people who want to witness what these guys are doing. as a platform, it did not exist earlier. i think, it is one of its kind – which is merging it with conference with good content. in the asia market, it is a good platform to be there. ,, one of my clients which is i am, at the moment, consulting homeaway. the reason for me to come here was to interact with a lot of potential partners. these guys were present in big numbers and we were speaking with them. there were a few sessions that i really liked. everybody was talking about the kind of new creativity in the apac region – japan, india, korea and china were the four markets everybody was talking about. the focus is definitely there on the apac region. ,, an emerging scenario is the digital tour operator. here traditional tour operators align with otas and become the ultimate travel seller by providing a combination of digital and human interaction. the digital tour operation ensures personalization, flexibility, dynamic packaging technology and convenience. ,, sebastien gibergues head of leisure and online travel, amadeus it group s.a ajay malhotra ceo, amcontra.com b r i n g i n g t o g e t h e r s t a k e h o l d e r s o f t h e b i g g e r p i c t u r e editor: navin berry firstname.lastname@example.org senior writer: shashank shekhar email@example.com features editor: priyaanka berry firstname.lastname@example.org business development: saurabh shukla email@example.com tourismfirst is owned, published and printed by navin berry and printed at anupam art printers. 6/14, industrial area, kirti nagar, new delhi - 110 015. it is published from 36-37, 3rd floor, indra palace, h-block, connaught place, new delhi – 110 001. tel: 011-43784444.
tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce 5 at the cocktails, attendees get down to serious networking on the inaugural day of phocuswright conference consolidation in the indian market is a growing sign of maturity: md, booking.com as the online market in india witnesses more number of players vying for marketshare, innovation will standout as the key differentiator, notes managing director, apac, booking.com. he believes that mergers and acquisitions are indicators that indian market players are looking at economics of scale. in a crowded the more players there are, the more emphasis there is on innovation as the key way to differentiate marketplace. we have observed the growing emphasis on providing end-to-end services and many startups focusing on a mobile-first strategy as consumer behaviour becomes increasingly tied to on-the-go mobility. at the end of the day however, customers want products that work seamlessly and effortlessly and this is especially true in the online travel segment. ,, managing director, apac at booking.com oliver hua we think it will reduce cash burns and discounting as the two big players will now offer similar prices, and other startups, especially hotel aggregators can now concentrate on product innovation and improve their unit economics. as far as booking.com is con- cerned, our focus remains on doing what we have always done - building the largest choice of accommoda- tion options for our indian customers who want to travel domestically and abroad and providing an excellent customer experience. a lot of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies. this is particularly true for some of the recent acquisitions, raising concern over the growing cartelisation of business in the online space. what is your take on this? do you see this as a threat to business and industry? competition is good and a sign of a healthy marketplace, especially when it comes to the online travel market in india. no matter what other players do, we will continue to focus on what we do best. the satisfaction of our customers and our partners is by tf bureau there have been abundant startups in the online segment, especially in the last few years. how do you think the startup culture will influence innovation in the marketplace? the abundant number of startups in the online segment is a clear sign that the online travel market is growing and there is still room for companies to make the most of opportuni- ties in the industry. the more players there are, the more emphasis there is on innovation as the key way to differentiate in a crowded marketplace. we have observed the growing emphasis on providing end-to-end services and many startups focusing on a mobile-first strategy as consumer behaviour becomes increasingly tied to on-the-go mobility. at the end of the day however, customers want products that work seamlessly and effortlessly and this is especially true in the online travel segment. our top priority. our success reflects our focus on ensuring the customer is always at the center of our activities and ensuring we are helping our partners grow their business. given the rise in mergers and acquisitions, the recent being ibibo and mmt, what could be its consequential impact on startups? it sure does make it difficult for them to find a foothold in a competitive marketplace, is not it? the consolidation of make my trip and ibibo is a sign that the indian online travel market is maturing, which is a good thing for our indus- try. this signifies that india-born players in the online travel space are looking at economies of scale. while this is the biggest consolidation we’ve seen in the indian online travel space, what are some key trends in 2017? what are some areas to watch out for? what would be the area of thrust for service providers? basis traveller endorsements, reviews, prefer- ences and insights, we at booking.com have come up with list of few things that holiday makers and business travellers can expect to experience in 2017 are: • instant gratification: technology is fuel- ling a more demanding and impatient traveller 44% of travellers already expect to be able to plan their holiday in a few simple taps of their smart phone and over half (52%) expect their use of travel apps to increase in 2017. with this, we’re increasingly looking to technology to eradicate any and all on-the-road niggles, deliver answers to our specific needs in the moment and enhance our experience with recommendations and short-cuts we haven’t even thought of. • bleisure travel: the ‘bleisure’ boom is well and truly underway, and 2017 will see a further upswing not only in the blurring lines between leisure and business travel, but in the value we attach to workplace travel opportunities. • appetite to discover: the discovered world has many undiscovered places and 2017 promises to see travellers unleashing their inner explorer like never before. 45% plan to be more adventurous in their choice of destination in 2017, while 47% would like to explore corners of the globe that none of their friends have been to. • mind, body and soul: in a hectic world, people are increasingly seeing travel as a way to bring balance back into their lives. almost half (48%) see going on holiday as a moment to reflect and make better lifestyle choices. 2017 will see many travellers prioritising health conscious trips that promise harmony for the mind, body and soul mobile has become a key area for innovation and refinement of service by online players? do you reckon that the apac, especially india and china, is heading towards a predominant mobile era – where service providers will spearhead innovations keeping in mind the mobile platform? will we see more companies embracing the idea of mobile-first? mobile is extraordinarily important to us as a business as one in every three reservations are made using a mobile device. this is a global figure and one that is relevant in all of our markets. we also see that over 50% of accommodation that are booked last minute, or within 48 hours of a stay, are booked on a mobile device. that figure is true for india as well the global average. yes, lot of new entrants in this space are focusing on mobile-first strategy as consumer behaviour becomes increasingly tied to on- the-go mobility.
6 tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce providers to focus on mobile platforms as millennials key to their growth: simon lehmann there is no ambiguity that mobile platforms will continue to drive growth in the online space as service providers focus on improving the mobile experience, both, through apps and mobile websites, with an eye on tapping millennials, says simon lehmann, president, phocuswright. he shares some key trends in the segment, noting that india’s bid to push for digital transactions, backed by the recently announced demonetisation, could further expedite its foray in the online space. supplier/ota competition – otas have enjoyed strong years. they are executing better on mobile than suppliers, and they have broadened their offerings to include the alternative accommodations that are increasingly considered alongside hotels. and with younger travellers showing an affinity for one-stop-shopping on mobile platforms, the outlook is pretty rosy ,, for otas. in-destination activities are getting more attention from intermediaries and technology startups. loyalty that make it really difficult for newcomers carve out a mean- ingful niche for themselves. share with us some key trends that you envisage in the online space? what is going to be the core areas of focus for service providers? in many markets, growth in the online category is coming largely through mobile. so, providers are focusing on improving the mobile experience for their customers – both through dedicated apps and mobile websites. also, millennials continue to be a key focus for providers, and these younger travellers’ online behav- iour and expectations are driving providers’ efforts to some extent – incorporating more on-demand features, enabling smartphone- based services, alternative accommodations, etc. messaging-based booking – all the big players are experimenting with it, and travellers say they are receptive to booking via message platforms (see attached slide). but uptake has been slow – perhaps a matter of getting the user experi- in the air space, we are a few years removed from the big unbundling efforts that really changed how flights are conceived of as products. airlines still have ambitions to break out their products and sell in a more robust way. personalized offers, more timely/ relevant upselling, and seamless chat-based customer service, are all on the near horizon and could represent another big shift in the online airline space. mobile platform is fast emerging as the most important platform for driving business. what is the trend like in asia pacific? how do you expect this trend to unfold in the region? as a region, apac is taking to mobile chan- nels faster than anywhere else. it will be exciting to watch what this could mean as e region grows, and its online travel companies and travel consumers are more tech-savvy and perhaps more receptive to innovation and new distribution models. asia-pacific is home to the world’s lead- ing mobile travel market – china. in 2016, it became the first country to get a majority of its online bookings through mobile platforms. by 2020, 39% of china’s total travel market will go through mobile channels – this in a travel market that had just 16% online penetration in 2013. india’s shift to mobile has been slower. it is at less than half china’s mobile penetration, simon lehmann president, phocuswright china has become the first country to get a major- ity of their online bookings on the mobile platform. and the gap is widening behind china’s torrid growth. but china is already influencing india via ctrip’s tie-up with makemytrip, and that could speed up mobile growth. we also expect china’s, and ctrip’s, influence drive mobile growth in southeast asia. what is happening in the european market? it is quite a mature market in terms of penetration and usage. how do service providers bring about innovation? how different is the modus operandi, compared to some of the newer markets like india? despite its maturity, about half of european travel is booked offline, and there are several country markets where traditional travel agencies and tour operators are extremely important. so there’s still lots of opportunity for online providers to capture more market share. in some places, providers offer a hybrid approach that offers a mix of offline/ online features, from travel inspiration, through planning and booking. in terms of the mature online space in europe, the competition between suppliers and interme- diaries is evident in all segments. suppliers are focusing on establishing direct bookings and relationships with their customers, while carefully balancing their reliance on otas (particularly in the hotel segment). in india, the online travel market opportunity is mas- sive and still largely untapped. plus, there is a strong entrepreneurial spirit in the country, and the climate for innovation in the space is quite supportive. by shashank shekhar the idea of digitisation is gathering momentum, especially in india, with the government actively promoting digital payment channels and mobile wallets. ‘digital india’ is prime minister’s pet project. how do you view this development and what could be its ramification on the online industry? when government prioritizes digital engage- ment and commerce, that is generally a boon to the online – and especially the mobile -- travel space. and in india, the govern- ment has a huge access point to travel – its state-run rail system is already one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the world. the relative security and ease of digital payments will be a big factor in how fast india’s digital travel market grows, and that is an area where the government could spur improvements. especially with india’s recent currency demonetization in november 2016, there’s been a huge upswing in digital pay- ments, especially via mobile. to the extent that this gets more people accessing informa- tion and transacting on mobile devices, it will help fuel online travel. for millions of people in india, the mobile is their only connection to the internet. however, a large segment of the population relies on basic feature phones, which limits functionality in terms of mobile travel planning and booking. a lot of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies. this is particularly true for some of the recent acquisitions, raising concern over the growing cartelisation of business in the online space. what is your take on this? do you see this as a threat to businesses and industry? in mature markets like the us and europe, there’s been massive consolidation – expe- dia and priceline being the most obvious examples. this is less the case in develop- ing markets. but in general, big established brands have the marketing power and brand ence right, or improving personalization. supplier/ota competition – otas have enjoyed strong years. they are executing better on mobile than suppliers, and they have broadened their offerings to include the alternative accommodations that are increas- ingly considered alongside hotels. and with younger travellers showing an affinity for one-stop-shopping on mobile platforms, the outlook is pretty rosy for otas. but hotels are putting up a fight with preferred rates for loyalty members. in-destination activities are getting more attention from intermediaries and technol- ogy startups. suppliers now have access to an array of affordable saas solutions that make it much easier to move products online. at the same time, otas are paying more attention to this huge, fragmented, segment of travel. snippets oyo’s year-end analysis of hotel-bookings in 2016 indicates that a majority of indian travellers are increasingly driven by impulse. impulsively planned trips emerged as the top driver for outstation trips both in business and leisure travel segment. 61% of all the bookings made on oyo platform were made within 24 hours prior to check-in. while 61% of oyo bookings in 2016 were from impulse planning emerges as a key driver among indian travellers, suggests oyo booking trends impulse travellers, yet predictability, standardisation and affordability remained travellers key priorities. in terms of destinations, paharganj continues to be the go-to spot for backpackers in delhi, whereas arambol emerged as the most affordable locality in goa despite ranking high on popularity. chennai and goa are the highest- growing cities for same-day and in the realm of metro cities, overall bookings the research has further high- lighted that despite the last-minute bookings, travellers’ expectations in terms of service, facilities and experience were pre-determined and non-negotiable. wi-fi, breakfast and hygienic rooms are the three biggest priorities for guests. oyo’s research identified chennai, goa and gurgaon as the top-contributors to hotel-booking via app. shillong, coorg, darjeeling, vishakhapatnam, and munnar as most popular winter-holiday desti- nations in 2016 using its cutting-edge data sci- ence and pricing technology, oyo also identified the most-expensive and most-affordable localities for budget hotels in top travel destina- tions.
tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce 7 mergers will make it difficult for copycat models to emerge and succeed: coo, oyo there have been abundant experience, content, discovery, localisation, ease of use, etc. also, the market is huge with more than 2 million rooms in india, compared to approximately 100,000 rooms in "branded" indian hotels. abhinav sinha shares his understanding of the online market space, beside detailing oyo’s latest push in se asian markets. startups in the online segment, especially in the last few years. how do you think the startup culture is, and will, influence innovation in the marketplace? in the last few years, india’s startup land- scape witnessed momentous growth. very exciting work has happened in the area of payments, hospitality, e-commerce, trans- port, logistics, healthcare and other verticals including b2b saas products. traditional business models have been disrupted and real problems are being solved – oyo in hospitality is just one example. three things for me define how the startup culture is going to define the indian economy in the future. first, startups are solving real problems for consumers and businesses, improving how consumers lead their lives and creating value for businesses every day. second, some of the smartest and most inno- vative brains are now found in the indian start up ecosystem. this has laid the foundation for attracting the best talent in the future as well. finally, current crop of start-ups are building the technology ecosystem that will take india into the future. establishing this ecosystem of excellent developers, product managers, de- signers, data scientists, and engineers is laying the platform for innovations to come. given the rise in mergers and acquisitions, the recent being ibibo and mmt, what could be its consequential impact on startups? mergers and acquisitions will perhaps make it tougher for copycat models to emerge and succeed. but what the budget travel market more specifically presents is a large op- portunity for new companies to continue to innovate along the dimensions of consumer a lot of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies, raising concern over the growing cartelization of business in the online space. what is your take on this? not really, the overall travel market is huge and there are several opportunities to in- novate. this will make it very difficult for a single player or a set of players to dominate the entire travel market – there will always be room for innovation. what are some key trends in 2017? what would be the area of thrust for service providers? travellers these days are increasingly driven by impulse. today, nearly 61% of oyo book- ings are made within 24 hours prior to the check-in. despite these last-minute bookings, travellers have a firm expectation of service and experience. while these factors remain non-negotiable, travellers also expect more engagement with the brand. the onus is on the innovators to understand this “impulse- planning” paradox and integrate services and technology to meet customer expectations. omni-channel servicing is the other critical piece. the customer can approach with a concern on any platform but the resolution needs to be quick and efficient. we understand that you have launched a brand called townhouse. what does it entail? oyo townhouse addresses the disconnect travellers these days are increasingly driven by impulse. despite these last- minute bookings, travelers have a firm expectation of service while these factors negotiable, travellers and experience. remain non- also expect more engagement with the brand. the onus is on the innovators to understand this “impulse-planning” paradox and integrate services and technology to meet customer expectations. ,, abhinav sinha chief operating officer – oyo between demand and supply of quality living spaces by creating a perfect equilibrium between location, comfort and price. our proprietary technology and skilled talent pool of hospitality experts come together to take hospitality to a whole new level at the oyo townhouse. oyo townhouse is based on the needs of the millennial traveller. it is part hotel, part home, part cafe and part merchandise store. every single element of the hotel – from the breakfast menu to the booking process has been re-engineered for comfort, efficiency, convenience and affordability. each townhouse is designed to complement its neighbourhood. you have made an announcement to expand oyo to some southeast asian countries re- cently. so, what has made you take this call? southeast asian market has attractive char- acteristics like high smartphone penetration and high share of online bookings in the travel sector. mobile can be as high as 75% of online business in some countries here. supply in the budget segment continues to be fragmented, with customers facing problems ranging from discovery to predictability to convenience. customer experience also is broken in several areas. all this makes for an exciting business op- portunity and we continue to explore se asian markets for possible future expansion. organised by innovating in tourism since 1975 new delhi bharat international tourism bazaar 21-23 september, 2017
8 tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce big data and artificial intelligence will change the industry landscape forever betting big on artificial intelligence and data analysis, rajnish kumar equated these developments with the industrial revolution and the internet revolution, asserting that these in the coming years were going to alter the industry landscape forever and good. by tf bureau let us start with talking about the whole eco-system with regard to startups. you yourself were a start-up once. you started in 2006 but the atmosphere was much less convoluted. there are a lot of new things that are making the terrain more difficult. what has been observed is that there is a lot of cartelisation that has been happening. parent companies have been buying stake into companies. so essentially, you have one company having stakes in five different companies, and in a way controlling the companies. this has especially been seen with regard to some of the chinese players making a foray into the indian market. how do you see all this making an impact on the whole startup culture? things are very different from what they were. there are mainly 2-3 differences. one is that easy access to funds was not really available back when we started. secondly, there was no such thing as the discounting economy. people did not have that kind of money to spend. this is one of the reasons we grew so rapidly. our product had a value proposition and hence, word of mouth kicked in and facilitated the rapid growth. this is something which we find very difficult to achieve in today’s market because what happened in 2014-15 was that the sheer amount of money that got pumped into the system, led to many other things like organisations being able to, as you said, cartelise. the easiest way to get traction, if one had the money, was to start discounting. this is what everybody started doing and this ended up becoming a stamina game. a good thing that happened in 2016 was that this model resulted in the downfall of a lot of these companies. this effectively made 2016 more conducive because a lot of the investors started to look at the revenue numbers and the unit economics which did not present a very pretty picture. so, raising money in 2016 became a lot more difficult. we ourselves tried to raise money in 2016, and we frankly did, but it was quite difficult. the third big difference is the global dynam- ics. when the discounting model came to be, economies like china, which drive world economics, faced a very tough time and what that resulted in was that a lot of large chinese companies realised that they needed to hedge somewhere. they could not just hedge inside the chinese economy and the only other economy where they thought they could hedge was the indian economy as it still had a lot of room. the indian economy today looks like what the chinese economy looked like about five to six, if not ten years ago. there is a lot to be learned. we could probably replicate a lot of the templates from the chinese economy over here. everything said and done, india is yet to see a very large company built as a start-up. being one of the pioneers in the indian market, you must have had the opportunity to expand globally? what are the factors that lead you to prioritise the indian market over others? well, we did expand back in 2009-10. frankly, it was not a great experience for us because you tend to lose focus. travel has always been a very bloody market because when the discounting model came to be, economies like china, which drive world economics, faced a very tough time and what that resulted in was that a lot of large chinese companies realised that they needed to hedge somewhere. they could not just hedge inside the chinese economy and the only other economy where they thought they could hedge was the indian economy as it still had a lot of room. ,, great people who have everything it takes. it might take us some time to realise what we are doing but i am sure it is going in the right direction. mergers and acquisitions have now become a trend. do you think this is going to be the norm in the coming years? what is your take as an industry insider? the thing about mergers and acquisitions is that they tend to happen everywhere. it is an inherent part of the game because companies, once they become bigger, have more insight in to the build v/s buy decision. in india, unlike china, there are a lot of regulatory constrictions that restrict single players. there would always be a need for second or third players in the indian market. so, even if a company becomes really big, it would not want to be in a position where it acquires everybody else. do you think that it will at-least bring a certain degree of price rationalisation in the market? will the discounting war that is bleeding the rivals to death subside? it already has. well, it has not really subsided but we are seeing that hotels as a space has mergers are a common sight these days, as once companies become bigger, they have better insight into the build v/s buy decision. have done a fair degree of innovation to reach where you have reached. now, looking back at having spent almost a decade in the indian market, what is your take on how start-ups are fuelling innovation? to be honest, i do not think a lot of that is happening, especially in the indian eco-system. i say that because it may be happening in bits and pieces here and there but overall i think the objectives are not aligned. the objective is not about looking at the indian market, at the indian people, at travel etc. and trying to find out the issues and solve them. when you do not do that, you do not innovate. the objectives here are a little bit different because they are more on the lines of how big it is, or how big it can become. the objectives in the indian market tend to look at how quickly can money be raised and you would be surprised to know, how quickly the sector can be exited. this is a mindset thing and i am not blaming anybody, it is just that the eco-system has become like that from both sides i.e. the investors as well as the entrepreneurs. this is a sad situation because this means that those days where people actually slogged for years just to solve a problem and were not just looking for a quick exit are behind us. this takes the core focus away from building something valuable and useful. don’t you think it is a gradual process and maybe 10 years down the line our market would be more mature? well, i truly hope so. there is no dearth for smart people which is made amply clear by the fact that most of the fortune 500 companies have some indian sitting at the top-level. we are a bunch of very smart and become much more stabilised. everybody is now looking to create a more sustainable business model, which is a good thing. also, mergers and acquisitions result in the parent entity getting much bigger. what that means for the supply side of things is that they have a much higher leverage. so, this effectively leads to an increase in commission and a decrease in discounting even though the traffic may remain stagnant. what are some of the important trends in the online space this year? what do you think will be the focus of service providers? how do you think 2017 is going to pan out? the online market for travel is no different from other consumer internet spaces. i think, 2017 is the year of data and artificial intelligence. anyone who is yet to realise this is too late for them. by now every serious company which knows this trend and has mapped it in the last few years would already have a dedicated team of ai experts and data scientists. one could always catch up but nobody likes to play that game. you always want to be in a position where you are leading the curb. the way ai and data are changing this world is unprecedented. we are about to see some breakthroughs this year which will completely change the landscape. the exponential growth that we are about to witness post this ‘revolution’ is maybe far more than what we saw during the industrial revolution or even in fact the digital revolution. it is also going to bring in some fresh problems as is the case with any process of change. it will still take around twenty more years for strong ai to become a reality but once that transition takes place, we will be facing a plethora of issues which are not part of the society today. rajnish kumar cto and co-founder, ixigo.com there are a large number of players and it is highly competitive. especially, if you go to markets like the us and europe, the competition is way fiercer. everybody in these markets is vying for the same eyeballs. it did not really work out well for us. the reason why we are focussing on the indian economy is that we do not want to lose our foothold here and the home-ground advantage that we have, having been around for so long. we believe that there is huge upcoming potential right here than compared to the other markets. why would you still just want to be a search engine and not move to the commercial space where you have your own booking engine? please elaborate on this a little. this is a question everybody asks. it is a very valid question, to be honest. when we started back then, ideally starting of as an ota was a better option because they were not as many players out there. see, meta only becomes relevant when there is a problem of plenty and a problem of choice. this problem did not exist back then. now, there are enough number of players out there and this number is only going to increase as the government is now taking a very bullish stand when it comes to things like regional connectivity and so on. talking about the government, how do you think centre’s latest policies will impact the travel and tourism sector in india? the industry has been seeing an upward trajectory of late. last year, the aviation sector saw a 23% growth and we have touched the figure of 100 million domestic passengers last year. we have been seeing an above 20% growth consistently over the past couple of years and this year the projection is even higher. let us hope that the government’s policies materialise and this growth becomes exponential as it would be a good thing for all the players involved. being a start-up yourself, you must
tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce 9 smartphones a new reality; industry must evolve to changing consumer behaviour there have been abundant taking stock of key trends, evolving consumer preference and the larger online industry, simon akeroyd speaks to tourismfirst. startups in the online segment, especially in the last few years. how do you think the startup culture is, and will, influence innovation in the marketplace? startups tend to focus on one very specific problem and make it their full focus to come up with a great solution. this means innova- tion can happen a lot quicker and they usually work on ideas or innovations that larger com- panies do not have the time or resources to dedicate to, or it is low on their list of priorities. the startups we are seeing in the online segment are bringing new technologies or ideas to the table, they are not trying to be the next online travel agent and that’s a very wise move. instead they are focusing on things like machine learning, offering greater personalisation or ways to improve online conversion. in order for these innovations to truly influence the online marketplace, the industry also needs to be open to working with these players and recognising, just like amadeus has done, that we cannot do it all ourselves and innovation can come through external collaborations and partnerships. given the rise in mergers and acquisitions, the recent being ibibo and mmt, what could be its consequential impact on startups? it sure does make it difficult for them to find a foothold in a competitive marketplace, is not it? industry consolidation does not have to mean less opportunities for startups. in fact, it could mean quite the opposite. whilst there are dominant players who are doing a great job in the b2c space and focusing on engaging di- rectly with travellers, i think we will see more and more b2b2c companies coming into play. my advice to startups would be to look at how their solution or business model could actually support the big players with what they are already doing and how their offer can help a large online player, for example. in the case of makemytrip specifically, they have always been very keen to work with startups and in fact they are a keen supporter of our apac startup community, amadeus next. a number of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies, raising concern over the growing cartelisation of business in the online space. what is your take on this? do you see this as a threat to business and industry? acquisitions are an extension of the industry consolidation we are already seeing and i think it is a trend that will continue to grow. it all comes back to the traveller and offering them what they want, at the right time, and through the right channel. ultimately the traveller is the one who is placing demands on the industry and their demands can shift very quickly. there is such fierce competition in the online space that if there was any sign of cartelisation then i think traveller demands would shift very quickly and prevent it from becoming a serious threat. in the case of startups, it could represent a big opportunity as it may mean they get acquired by a larger organisation which is often what they are looking for. what are some key trends in 2017? what are some areas to watch out for? what would be the area of thrust for service providers? cyber security is definitely one to watch in 2017. as more data gets digitised and the internet of things continues to grow, there is more infor- whilst there are dominant players who are doing a great job in the b2c space and focusing on engaging directly with travellers, i think into play. we will see more and more b2b2c companies coming my advice to startups would be to look at how their solution or business model could actually support the big players with what they are already doing and how their offer can help a large online player, for example.,, simon akeroyd vice president, corporate strategy & business development, amadeus asia pacific mation which is vulnerable and cyber security is becoming a bigger threat in our industry. the 5 technology trends we are keeping a close eye on are: virtual/augmented reality, peer to peer, smart cities, messaging & chat bots and the internet of things. do you reckon that the apac, especially india and china, is heading towards a predominant mobile era – where service providers will spearhead innovations keeping in mind the mobile platform? will we see more companies embracing the idea of mobile-first? i would say we are not heading there, we are already there, and the developed world is definitely mobile-first. in fact, the concept has broadened and everything should now be considered ‘mobile’. it is not just about smartphones, it is about the shift in consumer behaviour. nowadays people tend to do things on- the-move and ‘unattached’ whatever the device, whether that is via a laptop, tablet or a smartphone. it is rare that people go to a fixed desk pc in their homes to do an online transaction, and it is the same for travel. the travel industry as a whole needs to embrace this new reality to ensure they evolve, ex- pand or expire. unlike any other on a national scale first-time structured consumer + trade show with a focus on knowledge with power conclaves organised by innovating in tourism since 1975 new delhi bharat international tourism bazaar 21-23 september, 2017
10 tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce increased fundings intensify competition; mobile driving penetration of otas india, japan and china lead in the mobile gross bookings share in the apac region, signalling a decisive shift towards the mobile platform as the preferred mode for bookings and other travel related enquiries. in a dynamic marketspace, these changes are only going to happen at a more rapid pace, indicates trends put forth by phocuswright. the phocuswright conference will examine these unfoldings and more, as leaders of the online space from the apac region come together under one roof. while rising internet and smartphone access fueled growth in asia pacific (apac) in 2016, varied infrastructure development, digital payments adoption and regulations make for an uneven e-commerce landscape across the region. phocuswright’s asia pacific online travel overview ninth edition: online travel agencies analyzes the competitive dynamics throughout apac, with insight into online travel agency (ota) gross bookings and growth rates. the report takes a deep dive into the four major ota trends in apac. apac is the world’s third-largest ota region: gross bookings hit us$44.5 billion in 2015, up 15% over 2014 and are forecasted to reach $96.5 billion by 2020. incumbent otas face competition – and a threat of displacement – from emerging intermediaries, which are tapping into new categories, attracting investor dollars and gaining consumer traction. 4. consolidation hits apac shores as the region’s online travel industry matures and growth softens, major e-commerce players and otas have made notable investments and acquisitions to strengthen their positions in several markets. 1. apac is the fastest-growing major ota region worldwide internet and smartphone penetration continue to rise, supporting travel bookings’ migration from offline to online channels in the region. with relatively underpenetrated online travel markets such as china, india and southeast asia fueling ota growth, apac ota gross book- ings grew 21% in 2016. the supplier market structure also adds to ota growth in the region. broadly, the apac air market is crowded and the hotel segment is highly fragmented, offering otas an advantage in aggregating and distributing varied content in one place. 2. mobile is the norm with ever-increasing smartphone penetration, apac otas are allocating more resources toward mobile product development and marketing. abetted by sales via apps, mobile share of ota gross bookings in china hit 45% in 2015 – the highest in the world. as technology companies, otas have a strong lead over suppliers across markets when it comes to mobile development and products. while suppliers largely focus on and distribute a single product/segment, most otas distribute an array of products within a single mobile platform, thus appealing more to consumers. otas accounted for the majority of mobile gross bookings share in the region in 2016: india (86%), japan (54%), china (52%). combined ota mobile gross bookings for china, india and japan were $14.7 billion in 2015, up 52% year-over-year. continued discounting and price wars on mobile, however, dragged down transaction values (and put pressure on revenues) particularly in china and india, restraining ota mobile gross bookings from growing at a faster rate. 3. online travel funding swells, competition intensifies aggregate publicly disclosed funding to apac digital travel startups exceeded $14 billion from 2005 through 1q16, accounting for 43% of global funding. new entrants are challenging the established order and deploying capital toward price wars to win customer loyalty. funding to the region’s online travel companies has accelerated dramatically in the last decade; chinese startups attracted 75% of the total regional funding. as consolidation looms in the region, it’s eat or be eaten for apac otas. want more information on ota trends in the region? get it straight from the leaders of apac’s biggest otas at phocuswright india (february 28 – march 2, 2017, in gurgaon, ncr, india). phocuswright india provides an unmatched opportunity to meet, learn from and col- laborate with asia pacific’s top decision makers. explore the trends, technology and turmoil affecting the asia pacific travel market. see industry innovators during battleground. hear from the most influential travel leaders during center stage. find practical advice you can put to work in your own business during workshops. this year’s program features several sessions with apac’s largest otas: ◗ joint interview: makemytrip and ibibo group. two of india’s largest online travel compa- nies have merged. hear from ashish kashyap, co-founder and president, and rajesh magow, co-founder and ceo, on where they go from here and what it means for the rest of the market. ◗ keynote: yatra.com. hear from yatra’s co-founder and ceo, dhruv shringi, on distribution, competition, discounting and running an ota in the public eye. ◗ joint interview: alitrip and paytm. step by step, alibaba has emerged as a prominent force – and investor – in the chinese digital travel distribution space. hear about alibaba’s travel ambitions through a combined interview with the heads of its travel businesses in china and india, tony duan and abhishek rajan. view the full program here. this year’s speakers include: ◗ amanpreet bajaj, country manager, india, airbnb ◗ albert pozo, president, amadeus asia pacific, amadeus it group s.a. ◗ oliver hua, managing director, apac, booking.comgeeta jain, ceo, india, carlson wagonlit travel ◗ alex kaluzny, chief technology officer, egencia ◗ hai zhuang, svp & coo, tujia ◗ view all speakers register now to network and learn from asia pacific’s most innovative thinkers and leaders in the hospitality, travel and tourism industry.
tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce 11 disproportionate number of players in the market unhealthy, forces consolidation rajesh magow believes that merger and acquisitions are an outcome of disproportionate number of entities in a crowded marketspace, forcing companies to come together. by tf bureau what could be the consequential impact of growing numbers of mergers and ac- quisitions on start-ups? it sure does make it difficult for them to find a foothold in a competitive marketplace, is not it? overall travel market is huge and still hugely under penetrated online in many travel what are some key trends in 2017? what are some areas to watch out for? what would be the area of thrust for service providers? ai and machine learning is the new buzz word and we should watch this space as this should bring a totally new era of automation! we there have been abundant start-ups in the online segment, especially in the last few years. how do you think the start-up culture is, and will, influence innovation in the marketplace? the start-up ecosystem has evolved a lot over the last 10 years. today, there are lot many young entrepreneurs who are willing to take risk rather than following a conventional cor- porate career path. angel, seed and vc capital ecosystem is also a lot better than what it was few years ago. for example, at present there are about 30+ travel and holiday-related start- ups in india focusing on niche areas, trying to innovate new ways of wooing travellers. few key reasons for growing number of internet sector startups are, cheap internet access device, better quality bandwidth, cheap data plans, much improved digital backbone and innovated digital payment options. growing startup ecosystem is certainly influencing lot more product and tech innovation to suit indian market conditions. besides replicating solutions of some of the problems that have already been solved in different countries, startups in india are also solving unique problems of indian market with new innova- tions. however, to sustain this growing startup ecosystem, we need lot more success stories in times to come! segments. it is also growing at a double-digit growth rate year on year! besides, there are many niche travel segments opportunities that startups could focus and develop new solutions. if we look at all seg- ments together, do not think online travel market has reached that level of maturity yet! a number of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies. this is particularly true for some of the recent acquisitions, raising concern over the growing cartelisation of business in the online space. what is your take on this? do you see this as a threat to business and industry? i do not think we should generalize this, each move needs to be analyzed separately. i believe it is a stage of lifecycle for organization as well as any particular sector. consolidation at the right time and stage of lifecycle is not necessarily a bad thing as long as it does not result into a near monopoly situation. having disproportionate number of players not commensurate to the size of the market is unhealthy for the sector which forces the consolidation. india and china have mobile. i do not know which is talking about totally embraced of any company desktop anymore and for a while now! reliance jio is further taking the penetration to deep india. so, mobile first is a done deal now as consumers’ preferred device to access internet. i however have stated to get concerned about over crowded app ecosystem. it reminds me of the dot com era when people equated just building website with building a business without thinking through their business model. ,, rajesh magow co-founder and ceo – india, makemytrip should also watch out for customers’ fatigue in the app world, getting badly over crowed now! in the services sector, personalized offer- ings using data analytics and ai for customer delight is going to be focus area for many. do you reckon that the apac, especially indian and china, is heading towards a predominant mobile era – where service providers will spearhead innovations keeping in mind the mobile platform? india and china have totally embraced mobile. i do not know any company which is talking about desktop anymore and for a while now! reliance jio is further taking the penetration to deep india. so, mobile first is a done deal now as consumers’ preferred de- vice to access internet. i however have stated to get concerned about over crowded app ecosystem. it reminds me of the dot com era when people equated just building website with building a business without thinking through their business model. organised by innovating in tourism since 1975 new delhi bharat international tourism bazaar 21-23 september, 2017
12 tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce mergers a sign of growing maturity; will boost rational pricing, says vikas bhola in an exhaustive interview, touching upon issues like trends in the online market space, challenges and innovation, vikas bhola, regional manager - indian subcontinent, booking.com expressed optimism at the future of the indian travel space. he also asserted that the much touted mmt-ibibo deal was a sign of maturity in the market which would help create a degree of price rationalisation – a desperate need after years of merciless discounting war witnessed in the online space. by shashank shekhar november saw a major eco- nomic event – demonetization. i understand that given your online presence and dealings, your consumers are accustomed to the online medium. but what happened post demonetization? can you share with us some trends post the govern- ment diktat? well, what happened was there was a slump for the next 2-3 days, as people started to absorb what really happened. but over a period of time, what we have seen eventually is a steep rise in online transactions – which obviously means that people are getting far more comfortable in using digital payments and solutions. which is good. it helps us to further accelerate. so, in a way it was good. from a micro-economic term, as well. it was a bit of a challenge initially, and from a macro-economic term as well, it is going to be a good move. it has been three months since the note- ban. have you seen a change in the usual trend? it is an important time of the year for the outbound. can you also shed some light on which destinations and hotel segment gained the most traction? during the holiday season, we saw people booking all sort of hotels. to give a perspec- tive, a first-time booker will simply book a hotel that gives them the experience and the charm of a staying in a hotel. you have had such guests as well? yes, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a five- star hotel, just a typical medium sized hotel that will still give you the real experience of it. a more evolved traveller, or student travellers, backpackers and such, also a raw traveller wants to experience more local type accommodations. they could look at apart- ments, or hostels, or guest houses to get that experience. so, that is the way the typical holiday season played out. it all depends on what the customer really wants to experi- ence. if you take the holiday season out, one of the biggest things we are seeing is people merging their business travel with leisure. as the business travel starts to increase, there is more demand for ‘bleisure’ a business trip with one or two days extra of leisure to enjoy the destination. that is an important emerg- ing trend. the hvs report indicates that the mid-segment hotels will remain the backbone of india’s growth story in the hospitality sector, and the domestic leisure segment is where the big money is going to be. what is your take on both these assertions? absolutely correct. the millennials, or the rising middle class is the force to trap. i would also say that we are heading towards a tailwind in the travel space, because more and more people are wanting to travel and as they have more disposable incomes, they will travel. the first experience that they are going to have is the experience of their own mobile platform, especially with the government backing the ‘digital india’ initiative and several amendments to ensure that digital transactions are car- ried out without levying extra charge. do you really think that this is the moment most of you as online players were waiting for and now is the time to truly take to the mobile as a platform for conducting business? mobile is a very important part of our business, and i would say that a majority of our transactions still happens on mobile. when i say majority, i mean a lion’s share of our transactions in india are being conducted on the mobile platform. what is that figure for you? at this stage, we would not be able to give you the india figure but on a company-wide level, one-third of our transactions are happening on the mobile. i am just talking about the mega numbers that we do every day. a lot of companies talk about the millennials, or the rising middle class is the force to trap. i would also say that we are heading towards a tailwind in the travel space, because more and more people are wanting to travel and as they have more disposable incomes, they will travel. the first experience that they are going to have is the experience of their own country. india has so much to offer and we see those mega trends moving towards the domestic leisure segment. ,, regional manager - indian subcontinent, booking.com vikas bhola one of the biggest trends has been the emergence of travellers mixing their business with pleasure and there is more demand for ‘bleisure’. country. india has so much to offer and we see those mega trends moving towards the domestic leisure segment. if you look at the airline space as well, it is a very similar trend. trends show that the domestic airline travel is fairly strong and the travel space is going to grow. the business and the leisure segments, both, are going to grow. booking.com is a multinational com- pany. probably the strongest player in europe, and doing a fine job in india too, but with two of the strongest players in the online space, mmt and ibibo, both formidable entities, have come together focusing on their own strengths. what sort of a challenge does it pose for you? i think that is an interesting question. my two cents in the merger is that i think it is a sign of maturity in the market, which probably means we will see some rationalisation in pricing as two big players, who were compet- ing with each other, have decided to come together. i think that both these companies have carved their own niche and they can grow in their respective areas. for us, it is like a blue ocean at the moment. we are pretty much covering the whole span of the ac- commodation space, and we are always first and foremost for the customer. that is the principle of our business – to really see what the customer wants, and to build out supply that matches that demand. a lot of industry insiders speculate that the development will put a lid on the merciless discount war that was going on in the ota space. there will be some sort of stabilization coming in. booking. com was never heavy on discounting, and was always heavy on creating an experience. so, for a company like yours, it surely is a great development? well, yes. that is absolutely true. what we have experienced and seen is that when you are really close to partners to really help them understand the nuances of their business, giving them the analytical tools for them to make smart decisions that often the natural outcome is the partners see the overwhelming benefit of giving us the best price. we manage to capture demand very efficiently and ultimately, providing the best price helps both parties. so, yes for sure, it would help us if there is rational pricing, but we have also seen is that it is not always about the price. it is also about the experience, and who you book with mat- ters a lot in deciding what kind of holiday you are going to have. the decision making is not purely built on price, but also on the value- add that you are going to get when you book with a particular platform. but i do agree that rational pricing will create a fair playground for us to capture the market. india truly is at the cusp of taking to the how they are a mobile-first company, we do not necessarily say that, we always say that we are a customer- first company and that enables us to see where the customer needs us – which is basically the whole spectrum, and that covers mobile as well. for example, we’ve learned that 75% of our customers that reach out to properties proactively prefer to take care of simple stay-related requests via self-service tooling and we wanted to provide them with a convenient and familiar interface to manage these requests in the most seamless way possible. as a result, we brought in an app for our partners. could you elaborate a little bit on that? yes, we have an app called pulse. the interface helps us and our accommodation partners to provide a smooth, enjoyable and stress-free travel experience for our custom- ers, especially for frequent travellers who need to manage multiple stays on the go. it allows partners that keeps them up-to-date with the most relevant and time-sensitive news for their property, including check-ins and check-outs for the day, as well as new bookings, and now special requests from their booking.com guests. it allows proper- ties to load their availability and price and understand the issues that a customer is having at the time of staying at a property. for example, on most review sites you can give review after your stay. here you have the opportunity to give reviews during the stay and correct something that is not right at that particular point of time. so, the hotel is lot more responsive? exactly, and also communication that was to- tally missing like the time of arrival, and also opportunities such as airport transfers. that becomes extremely easy. it’s all a part of our machine learning so, very simple answers can be replied to in a fraction of time.
tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce 13 the state of online travel in asia pacific by tf bureau the state of online travel in asia pacific while smartphone bookings soar globally, some countries continue to blaze their way as leaders in mobile travel. asia pacific (apac) leads all markets in mobile booking adoption, according to pho- cuswright’s global online travel overview fourth edition. the region’s mobile book- ings are projected to grow from 24% of the online travel market in 2015 to 37% in 2017. that compares to both the u.s. and europe, where mobile penetration is expected to be just 24% by the end of this year. pho- cuswright’s global online travel overview fourth edition compares total and online travel gross bookings for six regions: the u.s./ canada, europe, eastern europe, apac, the middle east, and latin america. apac leads all markets in mobile apac leads all markets in mobile booking adoption. whereas in the u.s. and europe, bookings will increase from 16% and 17%, respectively, to 24% by 2017. (refer graph 1). electronic wallets from companies including alipay in china and paytm in india, mobile payment solutions, and call-to-book/ partial online payment options have opened the floodgates for mobile transactions. in china, mobile-only discounts from intermediaries are fueling smartphone book- ings among the country’s massive subscriber base. in india, online travel agencies (otas) are aggressively promoting app downloads as mobile has emerged as a new battle- ground for intermediaries. suppliers lead in online travel book- ings … for now in the online travel marketplace, suppliers and intermediaries compete against one another for travel bookings. for suppliers, driving direct transactions is key to minimiz- ing distribution costs, yet otas are also graph 1 valuable partners, providing sales and visibil- ity. globally, suppliers capture nearly six in 10 travel bookings. however, otas are popular among young and price-driven travelers, as well as those seeking to compare prices across multiple suppliers. while suppliers dominate the online channel overall, otas have taken the lead in mobile, which is experiencing rapid gains worldwide. and in apac, the supplier advantage (representing 58% of online sales) is driven by both low-cost carriers and rail suppliers. in most markets, supplier-direct share will remain relatively steady through 2017, with one exception being apac, where the ota share will rise two percentage points to 44%. (refer graph 2) to learn more about online and mobile bookings in asia and other parts of the world, purchase phocuswright’s global online travel overview for high-level market analysis and insights and to understand the dynamics and opportunities shaping this global industry. want more information on the state of apac online travel? get it straight from the leaders of apac’s biggest companies at pho- cuswright india (february 28 – march 2, 2017, in gurugram/gurgaon, ncr, india). phocuswright india provides an un- matched opportunity to meet, learn from and collaborate with asia pacific’s top decision makers. explore the trends, technology and turmoil affecting asia pacific travel market. see industry innovators during battleground. hear from the most influential travel leaders during center stage. find practical advice you can put to work in your own business during workshops. this year’s program features several sessions with apac’s largest otas: joint interview: makemytrip and ibibo group. two of india’s largest online travel companies have merged. hear from their ceos, ashish kashyap and rajesh magow, on where they go from here and what it means for the rest of the market. executive roundtable: the future graph 2 of business travel. new technologies and automation continue to evolve how business travel is approved and booked. hear from the executives of carlson wagonlit travel, egen- cia and amadeus it group as they discuss the road ahead. executive roundtable: the bucket list. in-destination experiences are one of travel’s most overlooked segments – but not for long. hear how some of the region’s leading players are making travel’s long tail more accessible. this year’s speakers include: oliver hua, managing director, apac, booking.com dhruv shringi, co-founder and ceo, yatra online pvt. ltd. amanpreet bajaj, country manager, india, airbnb albert pozo, president, amadeus asia pacific, amadeus it group s.a. geeta jain, ceo, india, carlson wagonlit travel yaadhum oorey, yaavarum kaelir. organised by innovating in tourism since 1975 new delhi bharat international tourism bazaar 21-23 september, 2017
14 online a nd tech nology at bitb 2016: r eview spotlight on innovation: online players invest in tech, personalisation to carve a niche innovation, smarter interface and stronger mobile presence were some of the buzzwords at the conclave anchored by phocuswright. the gathering saw speakers representing an array of new-age companies, service providers in the ota space, and also hospitality chains – who in their own admission were investing on digital and mobile platforms like never before. a major takeaway of the conclave was the rise of smartphone users and the need for companies to invest heavily in reaching out to the new-age consumer, perpetually on the move and always on the lookout for a seamless experience. since the advent of otas, the war for a larger market share has only intensified, often resulting in discount wars that, without the support of millions of dollars of foreign investment into these domestic players, would have bled lesser companies to oblivion. the viability of such prolonged discount wars was also deliberated on. looking at the larger picture, india is likely to be the centre of global innovation in the online space in the coming decades – and it is befitting for a nation with fastest growing number of mobile phone users in the world. what may also come as a shot in the arm for the online segment is the governmental thrust towards boosting digital infrastructure. the conclave touched upon many of such issues. we bring you excerpts of the proceedings. travel set to grow faster than india’s gdp; mobile- first interface fuelling upswing, says tony d’astalfo improved telecom and banking infrastructure, growing acceptance of the online medium for transactions and new entrants vying for mobile-first interface would push the indian travel spend at a rate faster than the expected gdp growth in the coming years, shared tony d’astalfo, research analyst, phocuswright inc. we bring you experts of his keynote address at the conclave on online travel+ technology. billion usd, compared to the overall sum of 246 billion usd. when you look at the overall penetration of the on- line travel in the asia pac environment, it is in fact one of the leading online players, accounting for almost 37% of the total bookings that are being done online today. india is a lead market, but china is growing at such a rapid rate that we think china will surpass india as the leading online market in the very near future. aggressive otas, better banking and telecom infra to boost online segment carrier market after indonesia, in the asia pac. lccs are one of the fastest growing sector in the online space, worldwide; it has always been a very big sector. mobile-first interface critical hotel penetration in the online space is actually smaller than the air and the rail segment, but growing very quickly. there are a number of reasons what that is happening. we expect that is going to jump significantly. so, we see the air penetration to jump by about 4% and the hotel segment to jump by about 7%. so there will be more people booking their hotels online over the next period of time. there are a lot of independent hotels who are pushing people to book online, which is having a huge impact based on the mobile technology. a lot of companies are actually interested in a mobile-first booking platform that works particularly well for the hotel side of the industry. budget aggregators pushing hotel bookings online in the old days, unaffiliated hotels in india were pretty wide spread and have seen a massive transformation. there are a number of independent properties are now branded. this will also be a significant driver for hotel bookings in the online world. the networks of independent and budget hotels have grown significantly over the indian market – and they are also capturing a lot of investments; over 177 million usd have been pumped towards these initiatives. it is something very interesting that traditional players will have to keep an eye on and it will have a significant impact on the indian market in the times to come. otas changing the rule of the game, forcing traditional players to take stock one of the things that online travel companies are doing today to raise the bar against suppliers. when indian online players started against traditional players, all of them estab- lished their presence on the web. new entrants have come into the market with a mobile-first strategy and they are caus- ing traditional players to take a look at investing more heavily on mobile platforms. mobile platform will fuel growth in the hotel sector and every other sector. it is the biggest invest- ment area across the globe, related to the travel industry. online travel agencies are trying to move consumers very aggressively from the desktop to the mobile-based interface. today their mobile booking share, post booking, is 37%. it is a little bit more than a third of the total bookings. we project that by the year 2020, almost two-thirds of the entire business will move to mobile-based applications. we see, now, that all of the traditional players have jumped into the fray with apps and mobile applications of their own. one of the things that online travel companies are doing today to raise the bar against suppliers. when indian online players started against traditional players, all of them established their presence on the web. new entrants have come into the market with a mobile-first strategy and they are causing traditional players to take a look at investing more heavily on mobile platforms. ,, by 2020, over 40% of the total travel booked from the indian market will actually be done online. the reason why we see it increasing is three-faced. firstly, it will because of improved telecom and banking infrastructure that will allow people to move online and transact their businesses; there will be a lot more of ota activity. they are getting more aggressive in going after indian travellers. and, finally, when people get more comfortable transacting online, they would be more likely to do that. so, we think that online penetrations are by tf bureau indian travel spend to outpace the gdp growth rate let us see how travel in india is faring compared to its gdp. the indian gdp is poised to grow between 6-8%, but the travel spend is actually going to grow at a much larger pace. it is good news if you are in the travel industry in india; you are actually going to grow at a much faster pace, as peo- ple are going to be spending at a higher rate the gdp growth rate. so, overall prospects are bright. india leads the online penetration in asia pac, but china may overtake soon what we also wanted to look at was online travel. it is a grow- ing sector for the community. so when we look at the total money spend on online travel bookings in the asian pac region, it is less than a third of the overall global booking at 105 likely to continue to grow. air and rail were first segments where it came to the travel industry here in india. the fastest online sector growing online was the air category, but it is followed pretty closely by the hotel segment, and also by rail. so, we actually see all 4 spending categories going up. we will see more people book- ing online as time goes by. increased supply on the air-side, lccs to jettison the aviation sector’s reach the supply on the air side will actually increase. over a thousand aircrafts under order by various carriers for their operations, we will see at least a 4% increase in the level of online booking in the air category. in the heart of this devel- opment is the funding by lccs. they are the fastest growing segment in the airline industry worldwide; i am sure it is the same. india is actually the second fastest growing low cost
online a nd tech nology at bitb 2016: r eview 15 exhibition aside, bitb (bharat international tourism bazaar) 2016 had six power conclaves, dedicated to deciphering the churnings in the industry – in different areas. online travel and technology was one of the six verticals under which industry leaders from the online marketplace came together to brainstorm on some of the challenges and opportunities that lied ahead. phocuswright was the anchor partner for the power conclave on online travel and technology. at the b2b level, around a dozen trending companies were present as exhibitors, adding weight to the industry gathering. we bring you the review of the power conclave held at the inaugural edition of bitb. loyalty programs are not discounting channels; we work with partners to augment their skills, says vikas bhola a well-equipped partner with tools and analytics at their disposal worked better in retaining consumers and providing them a top-notch experience, said vikas bhola, regional manager – indian subcontinent, booking.com. he advocated viewing loyalty programs not as discounting channels, but as a part of creating an experience. excerpts: on the air-side of the business. how does the business segment break down? we are primarily a lodging company, so there is no air business. but we do know that the air-side is growing fast and it is helping the lodging space grow. and we are very excited about it. gaining and retaining customers. strategies around repeat business? we have certain products of loyalty program; it is called ‘genius’. it is fairly simple. a customer who books rooms for five times through booking.com becomes a ‘genius’ and gets a flat 10% discount on properties. so genius is actually by invitation. we select a property which is best for our consumers. we believe in few core fundamentals like best quality supply, which is purely unique and develop great experiences for customers. we do not look at loyalty as a discounting channel; it is not a commodity, but an experience. heavy discounting and how sustainable is the trend? i fairly agree with these guys, but not fully. as a company, our philos- ophy is a bit different; we want to grow our top-line and bottomline together – and we will not fund discounts out of our pockets. that, however, does not mean that we do not have the best deals. how we do it is we work really closely with our partners; we fundamentally tell them how to run their businesses, give them tools and analytics to make those conscious informative decisions. and that really works for us. if it is here to stay, i do not know. there is a flip side to it. the good side is that it is turning the market around and the pool is increasing, penetration is increasing. on the flip side, this discounting turning people into, you know, you go to the online space to get the best deals, and once that stops, it is so funded that way that they would take to other routes to fund that. credit cards, alternate ways of payments or something else. but this would just go on. so, our philosophy is very simple. we just really try to educate our partners and show them the benefits of not handling the mar- ket this way. it is a responsible way to go forward. non-air revenue far exceed our air revenues; discounting will continue until unit economics improve, notes ritwik khare while discounting would continue for some time to come, there had been a gradual climb down in its degree, reasoned ritwik khare, sr. vp & head – business development, hotels, makemytrip. com. he believed that the process was an ongoing one, until unit economics improved, which was going to steadily bring down the scale of the dole out. excerpts: on the air-side of the business. how does the business segment break down? for us, in the last quarter, the non-air business was roughly 59%. in the early 2012-13, it was around 15%. so, the non-air side of revenue has exceeded the air-revenue for us in the company. we see that continuing to rise. we have a very ambitious target for 2020. gaining and retaining customers. strategies around repeat business the two big pillars for retaining customers to repeat with us is a simple reward program called mytrip rewards. you book 4 transactions with us, of which one has to be a hotel transaction, and you get a free room-night. it is by far the most rewarding loyalty program that we know of. it is also, by far, the simplest. similarly, if you do 8 transac- tions, you get two room nights – and that is the cap for the year. so, that is one pillar of our loyalty program through which we keep getting repeat customers. the second big pillar is the e-wallet; we play very aggressively on the wallet side, and that becomes a very big reason for customers to keep coming back to us. they keep tracking and redeeming their wallet cash. so, it becomes the most compelling feature for them to keep coming back to us. we have put a lot of stress on personalisation. today, we see that even discounting is personalised and loyalty driven. so, that is add- ing to the repeat clientele we get. heavy discounting and how sustainable is the trend? we launched in india in 2005 and were the first to the start the air business. we have seen that play out; air business also started heavily on discounts – and today it has settled down to a good rhythm. it is a money making business and does well. there has been a huge online penetration. it is in the range of 45-50%, as far as the air business is concerned. while discounting has helped us open up the hotel business, but i think we are still scratching the surface. our numbers are similar; our online penetration ranges from somewhere between 17-20%. what is very clear is that this is not going to be the only strategy go- ing ahead. that is why more and more companies are working on ways to retain customers in ensuring that ultimately the unit economics im- proves and discount rates keep going down. look at how e-commerce has panned out. discount levels are much lower today than they were three years ago. we view discounting as a means to strengthening the supply side; discounting here to stay, asserts parikshit choudhary instead of viewing discounts simply a tool to acquire consumers, it must also be viewed as a means to strengthening the long-tail of the supply side of the hotel industry, noted parikshit choudhary, senior vp and global head – lodging partner services, goibibo. he also mentioned that the concept of discounting was going to remain integral to the online space for the foreseeable future. excerpts: segment break down? on the air-side of the business. how does the business our numbers are slightly steeper than the rest here. our non-air con- tribution is about 65% of the total transaction volume. in the non-air segment, we have buses and hotels. we are pretty strong at the bus market share, almost 80% of the total market share. also, hotels are very significant in that 65% share. which is taking the world by storm is our currency which is called ‘gocash’. there are two currency wallets that we play. travel in india is a social phenomenon; there is a lot of social angle coming in. we have something called ‘gocash+’, where if you sync your phonebook and anyone on your contact list travels, you earn some bit of loyalty points. it can be used for next booking. it hooks on the consumer and helps us to grow our periphery. on gaining and retaining customers. strategies around repeat business i would like to go back a little and share that goibibo was one of the last entrant in the group of the big four. india has a huge bit of long-tail, and when you have a long-tail and they are not con- nected online, you would have issues with respect to fulfilment. so, you might book the room, stand in front of the hotel and the room might just not be available. i think, that is fundamentally what we started doing; when you book your room at goibibo, it is guaranteed fulfilment. when fulfilment happens, trust builds and you get repeat consumers. it is something that is very close to our heart. the second bit is having a post-sale service. the third thing heavy discounting and how sustainable is the trend? look, we indians love discounts. let us keep that straight, and without mincing words, discounting is one of the easiest ways of acquiring cus- tomers. if you look at the core philosophy of goibibo again, we view it more as an investment in the supply also, and not in consumers. i talked about fulfilment, it was a problem that needed to be addressed; hotel’s share in the long-tail needed to be built. if you do not have a business share in the long-tail hotel, they would not fulfil. i am not talking about large chains here. so discounting is more in the supplier side to build in that discipline. of course, not one does it for charity. now, discounts are being at a lot more intelligent level. if you ask me if discounting is going away completely in india in the near future, it is not.
16 online a nd tech nology at bitb 2016: r eview innovators showcase offerings, advocate affordable and seamless interface joy ghosh regional vice president – india & sub- continent, travelclick on emerging trends in the hospitality industry we get the data, clean it up and put it on analytic tool and let hoteliers see what kind of data they acquire. what kind of business can they acquire, convert and retain? in the second quarter of 2016, on a global level, 32 to 38 percent of all business that came was direct business. i am sure people are looking at how the ota business is changing globally, and how the web is changing globally. in delhi, from january to september this year, it is very interest- ing to see that when the demand has been going up, the revpar has been growing, too. whenever there is good demand, the revpar is going up and whenever the demand is falling, revpar is also falling substantially, as well. but the future is definitely looking better for the industry. gautam shewakramani founder and ceo, audio compass on the need for structured information at easy affordability for travellers on the go we are changing the way people experi- ence their destination, after they get to their hotels. this is the next frontier in travel; this is where all the spend is happening. people need help when they travel. many of us, including travel companies, agencies and dmcs do not either recognize it, or are not doing enough to actually address that need. in india, with so many stories and so much of information, you cannot blame them. there is free information, completely unstructured, available online. this is where sites like tripadvisor, wikipedia and a bunch of other apps come in. there are tons of material available on the taj mahal. i mean it is easy to know the opening and the closing hours, but you have to rely on this unstructured information when you get there. the other option is hiring a guide. the truth is that in india and in the apac, you are either stuck with a guide that is very cheap, or with someone who is very expensive – which is out of the affordability range for most travellers. that is where we come in. we provide, through our technology, a very high quality, digital, do-it-yourself experience to travellers while they travel. satish singh founder and ceo, ttw holdings on b2b offerings we have multiple brands that we work on. what we do is to create experiences for our customers, which is not only about selling, but about creating an immersive buying experience. so the genesis of our business is about emulating the offline buying experience of a tour to move it online. the challenge we face is that if you look at a transactional product like an air-ticket, where the data points for a customer to make a buying decision is very limited. so what we have tried to do is move the whole process online, creating an im- mersive experience for the customer to go ahead and book a tour. of course, when we talk of an immersive experience, we also allow them to build their own itinerary. it is very important to understand the new-age traveller for travel agents. this new-age trav- eller is educated, very vocal on the social media; this new-age traveller also wants to do things on his own. hari ganapathy co-founder, pickyourtrail on his company’s work a lot of people go to otas, travel agents, picking up tours, or those who want to enjoy it themselves and do a lot of planning. they invest significant time on it. this is where we found an opportunity. we said is there a way we could simplify the entire process for the new-age traveller? that is where we sat down to figure out all the pros and cons. if you look at self-planning, it is obviously time consuming. there is a lot stuff happening online. there are payment wallets, a lot of coupon codes and, still, you are never sure if you are getting the best possible rates. at pickyourtrail you look at personalisa- tion, take your suggestions and a real time algorithm builds itineraries that suits a customer’s interest. deepak mavinkurve founder and ceo, goodhotel network as far as the online e-commerce business in india is concerned, it is growing. some time back a picture of a person paying a cop through online transfer went viral. that sort of sums up what is happening in that space. i divide this business into two parts. one is the commerce that is transactional. there is limited decision making, like buying groceries and air-tickets online. the other one is the sales process that is much more consultative. it is complex, there are multiple decision making proxies – the business most of us are in, like booking holidays and hotels. the problem that we are trying to resolve is how to make the whole consultative selling process easier across the customer and the supplier. innovation and technology to remain central to hotel operations as consumers go mobile a roundtable focussed on the fast-changing consumer behaviour and the need for assimilation of technology and innovation into hotel operations saw spokespersons detail their organisation’s efforts in that direction. excerpts. chinmai sharma chief revenue officer, taj hotels resorts and palaces on technology and innovation infrastructure is what it is, but we have got to learn from some of these countries, as well – which are probably one-tenth in terms of what has to be offered, but the whole experience and infrastructure is a lot cooler. we hope to see investment in technology. technology in this part of the world is cheap. so, technology and innovation, kind of, go hand-in-hand. with a heritage and unique brand like us, we are hoping that the concoction will deliver a very good punch. on aggregators well, with all these disruptors coming into the market, it does upset the applecart in some segments. but as rahul said, the good news is that more people will travel and more bookings will happen. as a brand, we feel we are more aspirational than some of these segment of hotels. rahul puri area director of revenue strategy – south asia, marriott international on investment on mobile interface i will talk about on a marriott global scale, the investment in technology is at an all-time high, in the past two years. i think marriott is investing a lot in technology – not just for the booking source but also for the guest experience part of it. mobility is our number one focus to reach out to the consumer who is booking direct through smartphones. gone are those days, even in a hotel, when a consumer would go to his room, pick the phone and order in-room dinning. he is booking meals through apps, right after he is done with his work. what we have seen is, from a source market point of view, there are small cities in india, where we have previously seen hardly any booking coming through, are now emerging and booking direct through smartphones. they could be booking through otas, marriott’s website or other voice channels. dawn of aggregators as a challenge the good news is that the industry is changing. the good news is that oyo or airbnb are consolidators, who are putting hotels on a platform where consumer behaviour is changing – looking at how they are booking. do we see it as a risk? no. because over 80% of our portfolio, whether in india or in the asia pacific, is between four to five-stars. what we are catering to is more from the business angle. i mean, our 70- 80% of focus within asia-pacific, in terms of brand portfolio is still in the business segment. when we look at oyo and airbnb, they are more on the leisure side. so, we do not see it as a risk. on the positive side, we are looking at consumers who are booking differently. i am, again, combining that with mobility. sandeep dwivedi chief commercial officer, interglobe technology quotient on innovation and technology when a customer books through any agency, he needs a single pnr. he needs a single booking for hotel and air- movement, both. whether engines are capable of doing that or not? that is the first question. so we keep on evolving in that space as a company. we have developed our own booking tools, too, which are for the indian market. forget about these bigger chains, but do two-star and three-star hotels have the apis to connect to the system. that is the main challenge. we keep on investing in these things, because we are gds and we see more opportunity in the hospitality sector. much has been done on the air-side, it the hotel side which, now, needs to connected – and oyo is one particular example in that direction.
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18 tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce hotels can differentiate from otas in loyalty experience and personalisation: raj rana despite the rate parity, hotels have an opportunity to engage with the clientele in person, allowing them to expand relationships, and this is an advantage that hotels must leverage to compete with otas, explains raj rana. he shares that with a growing trend of online bookings, customers are beginning to spend higher amounts on f&b, increasing the overall wallet share per customer, resulting in higher total revenue per room. excerpts of an exclusive interview with ceo-south asia, carlson rezidor. given the technological advancements in smartphones, it is highly likely that in the near future, everything one does on one’s laptop today will be achievable on a hand-held device or a smartphone. hotels too are leveraging this transition by adapting reality, as rapidly as any other industry. at carlson rezidor, we have covered all aspects, ranging from hotel bookings, loyal programs, guest experience to viewing to this changed hotel room in vr (virtual reality). ,, should there be a borg issue, our hotels not only honor the lower rate but give further benefits to the guest. yes, we are aware that indian online agencies are using ‘coupon codes’ to subsidize rates, competing with other otas in order to maximize their market share. however, in almost all cases, rates displayed by otas to the customers are in parity with the branded website. however, these coupon codes or discounts are applicable post selection of the rate. i feel that these discounting practices are temporary in nature and our indian online partners will follow suit like other international otas soon. i do, however, discourage these practices. raj rana ceo-south asia, carlson rezidor how do you ensure ‘best rate guarantee’ on your hotel’s website, especially at a time when you have also offered it to otas, many of whom are subsidizing room rates by paying out of their own pocket to garner a bigger market share? ‘best online rate guarantee’ or borg as we call it is a brand standard for all our hotels and we have strict regulations around its compliance. rare though, but do you reckon that your own website would be able to match the might of otas ever in terms of outreach? it is a pillow fight which is applicable globally among hotel chains and otas. we are continuously innovating and evolving our processes to increase bookings through our direct channels. along with our branded website, we also have toll free numbers, mobile applications and global sales offices which act as hotel’s direct channels. of course, otas also continue to invest in order to grow their business. the key is for hotel chains to, despite rate parity, differentiate themselves in loyalty and ex- perience starting from website experience. hotels have an opportunity to engage the cus- innovating in tourism since 1975 register now! w w w.bit b.org tomer in person and expand relationships; the power of that needs to be leveraged! innovation is a critical component to technological growth. how are you going about enhancing the online experience of the consumer? what is the share of the business coming from the cumulative online space, including your own website, domestic and foreign otas, and how do you intend to take this forward? what is your business plan for the next couple of years? the industry is evolving and it is essential that as a global hospitality brand, we are putting to use technology in the right manner. being at the forefront of the industry, we see the need to find new avenues to bring hotels to life and that is why our research teams are constantly keeping a pulse on today’s consumer behav- iour, which is then translated into enhancing our offerings on multiple fronts and not just the online experience. these include building loyalty programs, room amenities, service concepts and even introducing new brands such as radisson red. from the past couple of years, online has been the fastest growing segment for our hotels, mainly because of the change changed reality, as rapidly as any other in- dustry. at carlson rezidor, we have covered all aspects, ranging from hotel bookings, loyal programs, guest experience to viewing hotel room in vr (virtual reality). looking at vr technologies from the con- sumer angle, technology will deliver more than just an impression but an experience. travellers can have a true feel of the space and venue for more informed decisions. our hotels are getting a good share from both ios and android devices and this is grow- ing as per our expectations. we will not be surprised if the business coming from hand held devices exceed branded websites. is there any perceptible trend in bookings from overseas, in preference for fits against gits? like more individuals booking on the net for your leisure sector? it is true, and the trend is very visible in our hotels as well. today, all travel related services are available online, be it transportation, sightseeing to even ordering your favourite cuisine in the hotel room. as a result, the booking window is shrinking, ranging from 2-7 days, depending upon the destination. customers booking online tend to spent higher on f&b, thus increasing overall wallet share per customer, resulting in better trevpar. and evolution of new ota models. we have witnessed that the legacy models of otas are being challenged by metasearch and mobile apps that are gaining popularity as they provide consumers convenience and seamless experience across all travel related services and products. there was a time when hotels wanted to be available on every shelf but this adversely impacted them in the longer run, because of high distribution costs. we, as a group, endeavour to manage an optimal channel mix, which includes vigil on acquisition cost and distinguishing guest experience with our ‘yes, i can’ culture, not only during their stay but also before and after clients’ patronage. going forward, we intend to consolidate our position with intermediaries and explore connection opportunities (to our crs) with major domestic otas in order to align them with our global online partners. how is the transition from computers to hand-hand devices happening? how are you capturing the brilliance of your product on the mobile? how much of your online business has moved to app from computers? if you have not moved to the app then will you be taking to it? will that be the next logical step? given the technological advancements in smartphones, it is highly likely that in the near future, everything one does on one’s laptop today will be achievable on a hand- held device or a smartphone. hotels too are leveraging this transition by adapting to this secondly, modern day travellers do not want to get tied up to a fixed schedule as it has been the case till some years ago. they want to make their travel choices while on the move which is driven by mobile apps. having said that, dmcs continues to play a major role in attracting (leisure) inbound business which is a sizeable segment in our leisure hotels. is web booking increasing your average realisations? it does, as brand websites are the most cost effective way to acquire business and even though there is high distribution cost associated with ota business, average adrs are still higher than contracted business. one good thing about retail rates is that they are yieldable, either to boost adr in high demand, or to stimulate demand during valley periods. interestingly, we have also noticed that customers booking online tend to spent higher on f&b, thus increasing overall wallet share per customer, resulting in better trev- par (or total revenue per available room). hotel bookings made online has seen a spike and this is steered through various promotions by loyalty programs, including club carlson, a carlson rezidor hotel group global loyalty program which allows travellers to enjoy benefits. additionally, booking online on mobile through brand apps have also gained traction as the profile of travellers become more technologically savvy these days.
tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce 1919 marriott mobile app is driving guest experience to the next level: neeraj govil marriott has recently launched an updated version of its mobile app which supports five new languages, signifying that the hospitality giant is committed to further strengthening its presence in the online world. neeraj govil shares with us how the group intends to continue its resolute foray. excerpts: that a mobile experience goes far beyond the one- size-fits-all content. hence, the new marriott mobile app dynamically adjusts to personalize the user’s experience throughout their travel journey. ,, marriott is one of the pioneers in mobile technology and experience. having created one of the most dynamic mobile app, personalized to each guest, we recently launched an updated version supporting 5 new languages for ios users. we understand area vp - south asia, marriott international neeraj govil our mobile check-in/checkout and mobile room ready alerts that launched in 2014. with the app’s innovative new navigation, members will find it even easier to custom- ize their stay with mobile requests. guests can use the app to chat directly with hotel staff before, during and after their stays for special requests that require personal at- tention. our next step is to launch real-time app messaging called mplaces with travel and hotel information, recognition and of- fers at the right time and place for marriott rewards members throughout their stays. other future app features will enable mem- bers to order restaurant and room service menu items delivered wherever they are, such as lounging by the pool. the new app is bringing marriott’s fine-tuned reputation for customer service to mobile and in years to come will engage artificial intelligence to begin testing anticipatory service. is there any perceptible trend in bookings from overseas, in preference for fits against gits. like more individuals booking on the net for your leisure sector? increasingly, travellers are seeking more authentic destination information from local experts whether they’re choosing where to go or looking for tips for what to do once they get there. for this reason and to the easy ac- cess and simplified booking mechanism has encouraged user to book their leisure travels themselves. to cater to this and for the first time, our app will deliver curated, original content from marriott’s digital magazine, traveller based on users’ previous hotel searches or upcoming travels. is web booking increasing your average realizations? absolutely – it is on a strong positive growth trajectory and is projected to grow further simultaneously with an automation in the travel industry. by tf bureau how do you ensure ‘best rate guarantee’ on your hotel’s website, especially at a time when you have also offered it to otas, many of whom are subsidizing room rates by paying out of their own pocket to garner a bigger market share? at marriott, “best rate guarantee” is com- monly known as the “look no further” (lnf) guarantee. marriott’s look no further best rate guarantee (lnf brg) enhances marriott’s long-standing commitment to sell the way the customer wants to buy by offering the same rates on all marriott reservations channels. the guarantee states that the customer will receive the best publicly-available room rate by going direct to marriott - whether calling our worldwide reservations center, visiting marriott.com, or contacting a hotel directly. this guarantee means that customers will know that if they come to marriott first, they will receive the best rate available and won’t waste time searching other sources trying to get a better one, thus strengthening customer confidence in marriott. should the customer find a lower rate elsewhere, he/she can file a look no further best rate guarantee claim. should the claim be valid, the hotel must then honor the lower rate, as well as take an additional 25% off the lower rate. to encourage hotels to keep control on their lnf claims, we have a process in place to have all hotels review their rates across channels and work towards maintaining parity and uniformity to help reduce the number of claims. do you reckon that your own website would be able to match the might of otas ever in terms of outreach? otas contribute to high single digit mix of our room nights share whereas marriott.com is trending in a double digit share. while our aim is to work collaboratively with each of channel partners to drive incremental bookings and reach new consumers, we maintain complete control over the pricing and inventory, adherence to marriott brand policies is a given. this helps us maintain an equilibrium to provide value to both our customers and channel partners. innovation is a critical component to technological growth. how are you going about enhancing the online experience of the consumer? what is the share of the business coming from the cumulative online space, including your own website, domestic and foreign otas, and how do you intend to take this forward? what is your business plan for the next couple of years? our website, marriott.com, is evolving every day - from improving user experience to reducing the number of clicks and time taken for a customer to convert from a looker to booker. likewise, extensive customer research and member feedback is driving the new mobile app experience and will con- tinue to do so as part of marriott’s ongoing service innovation strategy. as of december 2016, our cumulative online share was one third excluding gds bookings, an annual growth of high double digit over last year. how is the transition from computers to hand-hand devices happening? how are you capturing the brilliance of your product on the mobile? how much of your online business has moved to app from computers? if you have not moved to the app then will you be taking to it? will that be the next logical step? marriott is one of the pioneers in mobile technology and experience. having cre- ated one of the most dynamic mobile app, personalized to each guest, we recently launched an updated version supporting 5 new languages for ios users. we understand that a mobile experience goes far beyond the one-size-fits-all content. hence, the new marriott mobile app dynamically adjusts to personalize the user’s experience through- out their travel journey. whether members are in trip planning mode, getting ready to travel, in transit, or enjoying their hotel stay, the app will display content and features based on what services members are most likely to need in that moment of their travel journey. according to google, 74 percent of people have at least one travel app on their device. therein lies the opportunity for marriott to engage with travelers on the plat- forms where they are most active. over 12 million members have taken advantage of 2016 power conclave on online travel technology and highlights organised by innovating in tourism since 1975 new delhi bharat international tourism bazaar 21-23 september, 2017
20 tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce we anticipate our mobile traffic to surpass desktop users very soon: chinmai sharma discussing the vital role that the digital space is to play in the sales and distribution strategy of the taj group, chinmai sharma, chief revenue officer, taj hotels resorts and palaces talks about the importance of otas, both domestic and international, in garnering a loyalty base as well as building web revenues. in an exclusive talk with tourismfirst, he expounds how the app space is continuously on an upward trajectory and discusses how web bookings have resulted in a higher yield and hence, in turn, better value creation. we invested heavily in the website content, including images and videos and even 3 virtual reality films to showcase our properties. these initiatives have resulted in a triple digit increase of revenue (though from a small base) from mobile channels in this financial year. at its current growth rate, we anticipate our mobile traffic to surpass our desktop user traffic very soon. ,, in addition we added lots of relevant hotel and destination content to make it easier for our site visitors to find what they need. these initiatives have resulted in a 40-45% growth in our web bookings this year. digital is one of the most critical part of our sales and distribution strategy going forward and we are working on ways to further reduce the cost of acquisition using our own website and apps. internet as a channel already contributes about a quarter of our overall room revenue and we expect this number to reach 35-40% within the next few years. the next phase of this journey will include enhancements to our website, mobile apps, payment solutions and also some exciting changes at the physical touch points of our hotels. our digital business plan is simple – to provide engaging and relevant content across all devices and platforms in the preferred language and currency of our guests. how is the transition from computers to hand-hand devices happening? how are you capturing the brilliance of your product on the mobile? how much of your online business has moved to app chief revenue officer, taj hotels resorts and palaces chinmai sharma year. at its current growth rate, we anticipate our mobile traffic to surpass our desktop user traffic very soon. this is especially interest- ing given that our typical reservation value is quite high. with a large base of loyal consumers under taj innercircle, a mobile app is an essential part of our mobile strategy going forward. we have recently launched a hybrid version of the mobile app and will shortly be rolling out full-fledged native app to ease the consumer journey before, during and after checkout. is there any perceptible trend in bookings from overseas, in preference for fits against gits? like more individuals booking on the net for your leisure sector? with 101 hotels in 64 locations across 11 countries, the taj brand is gaining global recognition and we are seeing a steady increase with our brand being a popular choice among international travellers seeking bespoke indian hospitality and authentic experiences. a good part of our international guests are using international ota’s and/ or traditional travel agencies to book their by tf bureau how do you ensure ‘best rate guarantee’ on your hotel’s website, especially at a time when you have also offered it to otas, many of whom are subsidizing room rates by paying out of their own pocket to garner a bigger market share? taj direct best rate guarantee is a promise to our guests that the best rates and offers will be available to the customer on our website. we are confident of our best rate guarantee and offer a price match plus a further 10% discount if a customer finds a lower publically available rate within 24 hours for the same room/suite type and rate conditions. there are many benefits beyond the best rate when a guest books directly through our website - our award winning loyalty program, taj innercircle, has one of the best earning rates for a hotel loyalty program when you book through our hotel website. members of taj innercircle also receive exclusive offers via the website which they would not receive on any other channel. the simultaneous growth in our loyalty base and web revenues over the last couple of years are strong indicators that this offering has been well received by our consumers. do you reckon that your own website would be able to match the might of otas ever in terms of outreach? one of the key benefits of our ota partners is their reach. their marketing spend and global reach does help us with new customer acquisition and given the fact that a typical traveller will shop a few sites before booking – we do benefit from their ‘billboard effect’. while we might not be able to match the reach of a major ota partner, our focus has been on curating a great surfing experience for all our web visitors. the typical taj guest is seeking unique and bespoke experiences – both at our hotels and in the destinations where we operate. over the last 12 months we have added great content and rich imagery for our hotels and destinations. in addition we have developed mobile responsive websites which render a great experience irrespective of device and platform. these initiatives have started to show results and currently our website is the fastest growing channel. innovation is a critical component to technological growth. how are you going about enhancing the online experience of the consumer? what is the share of the business coming from the cumulative online space, including your own website, domestic and foreign otas, and how do you intend to take this forward? what is your business plan for the next couple of years? in 2015, we embarked on a journey of digital transformation of our interfaces, channels, and customer touch points to make sure that our online experience is in line with our offline experience where taj has been a pioneer for over a 100 years. as part of this journey, we tied up with the best in class design, hosting and cms companies to launch a world-class website that was intuitive and responsive. the major reason why web bookings and digital channels form the crux of our growth strategy is because of their high yield. our digital business plan is simple – to provide engaging and relevant content across all devices and platforms. from computers? if you have not moved to the app then will you be taking to it? will that be the next logical step? we have seen a major shift in the traffic to our website from desktops to mobile devices. while the website traffic was heavily skewed towards desktops till a couple of years ago, the traffic at present is split equally between computers and hand-held devices. we also note that the platform usage changes during the day for the same visitor (desktop during the day, mobile during evening and tablets at night). the launch of our responsive website in march last year was the first step in our journey towards mobile commerce and has been well received by our customers. with mobile connectivity improving tremendously in india, we realised that the time was right to make a quantum leap in the kind of content we use to portray our properties on the mobile interface. we invested heavily in the website content including images and videos and even 3 vir- tual reality films to showcase our properties. these initiatives have resulted in a triple digit increase of revenue (though from a small base) from mobile channels in this financial travel. at the same time, we have noticed that an increasing number of leisure travellers are booking on our website with larger lead times and length of stay. our unique hotels are now also available as customisable packages in the form of taj holidays – the new taj holidays web experience is designed to make the discovery and booking experience simple as well as seamless. we also working towards launching our brand website in select international languages very soon. is web booking increasing your average realisations? the major reason why web bookings and digital channels form the crux of our growth strategy is because of their high yield, a great guest booking experience and the fact that we ‘own’ the customer. on average, a booking made via our website is nearly 30% higher in value than a booking made through other channels. this allows us to pursue an aggressive acquisition strategy on digital to increase the revenue share through the website while keeping the cost of acquisition the lowest.
tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce 21 user experience and tech innovations at the forefront of our online business strategy with the dawn of the milliennials, there has been a profound shift in the way bookings are being made, most notably is the surge in online bookings. harleen mehta believes that this transition is equally beneficial for their direct channels as well as for ota partners. also, like other major players in the hospitality industry, hyatt too has seen increasing number of app users, ensuring that the mobile app traffic has outperformed desktop traffic numbers. excerpts of her interview follows: otas are a significant part of the hospitality industry and we value our association with our ota partners. having said this, our association with all major otas has contractual protection to ensure that they are unable to undercut our best rates. we continuously monitor exceptions and instances at both corporate and regional levels. all this also depends on the source of rate parity issues.,, vp, sales operations - south asia, hyatt hotels harleen mehta how do you ensure ‘best rate guarantee’ on your hotel’s website, especially at a time when you have also offered it to otas, many of whom are subsidizing room rates by paying out of their own pocket to garner a bigger market share? all the direct sales channels of hyatt in- cluding our website and mobile app across platforms offer a best rate guarantee. otas are a significant part of the hospitality industry and we value our association with our ota partners. having said this, our association with all major otas has contractual protection to ensure that they are unable to undercut our best rates. we continuously monitor exceptions and instances at both corporate and regional levels. all this also depends on the source of rate parity issues. do you reckon that your own website would be able to match the might of otas ever in terms of outreach? hotel industry has approximately 50% branded hotels (in apac as per a hotel- news report). with the advent of alternative lodging options via airbnb and other online websites, the percentage is still lower. when you look at segments of luxury travellers, ho- tel loyalty members or cities/regions where global hotel chains have a good distribution strength, the hotel website is able to compete with and exceed the ota reach. at hyatt, our focus is not just on improving direct business with our loyal guests but also to work with our trusted ota partners to capture incre- mental business and introduce them to the world of hyatt. innovation is a critical component to technological growth. how are you going about enhancing the online experience of the consumer? what is the share of the business coming from the cumulative online space, including your own website, domestic and foreign otas, and how do you intend to take this forward? what is your business plan for the next couple of years? user experience and technological innovations are at the forefront of our online business strategy for the coming years. as we transition from the last generation of travellers to the millennial generation, we see a shift from offline bookings to online bookings. this surge is equally beneficial for our direct channels as well trusted ota partners. the offline to online is definitely more pronounced in the leisure segment than the business segment. however, as we see more of the millennial generation travelling on business, there is a shift in behaviour and accommodation type choice for this segment as well. we are excited to meet these new challenges and tweak our business strategy accordingly. how is the transition from computers to hand-hand devices happening? how are you capturing the brilliance of your product on the mobile? how much of your online business has moved to app from computers? if you have not moved to the app then will you be taking to it? will that be the next logical step? we have already been making headway in the mobile and app space for the past few years. the growth in our mobile and app traffic has been outperforming desktop traffic growth. we are constantly improving and optimizing our user experience on mobile and apps to meet the needs of our guests. this will be an ongoing exercise. the next phase of technological development will entail responding to voice based search and internet of things being the norm in homes and user behaviour. is web booking increasing your average realizations? online bookings have a reduced transaction compared to offline bookings. the average realization is in turn higher provided the net rate yielded is the same in both cases. organised by innovating in tourism since 1975 new delhi bharat international tourism bazaar 21-23 september, 2017
22 tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce tech disruptions changing guest behaviour, creating complicated challenges: arif patel technology assimilation in day to day operations has created a new set of challenges, forcing hotels to pursue innovation relentlessly to stay relevant in an extremely dynamic marketplace, says arif patel. a detailed interview follows: competitive business we are operating in a highly environment, with technology disruptions and changing guest newer and more complicated challenges for behaviours creating industry players. it plays a pivotal role in promoting tourism, especially inbound travel, to ensure steady inflow of guests to help sustain and grow businesses. hotels also need to innovate and reinvent on a daily basis in order to stay relevant. ,, vp sales, mktg, distribution & loyalty, accorhotels india arif patel by tf bureau how do you ensure ‘best rate guarantee’ on your hotel’s website, especially at a time when you have also offered it to otas, many of whom are subsidizing room rates by paying out of their own pocket to garner a bigger market share? for otas and even e-commerce companies in general, all players essentially sell the same stuff from the same merchants to the same customers at the same prices. with no difference in merchandise, they often resort to price variation to attract customers. but in my opinion, burning cash through subsidies and discounts is not a sustainable model. while it may help with first time customer acquisition, a very small percentage cus- tomers acquired through such unprofitable methods stick. accorhotels has taken a tough stand on pricing parity as we promise “best rate guarantee” for our guests. if you book an accorhotels property online on any accorhotels internet site and find an equivalent offer within 24 hours on another website for the same hotel at a lower price, we will honour the lower rate and give you a further reduction of 10%. this goes on to demonstrate our commitment to price parity and how it is a non-negotiable point for us. we always say that otas are great for customer acquisition. a potential guest in nagpur who wants to stay at a novotel hotel in kolkata probably might not have heard of novotel kolkata hotel and residences if otas did not exist. they are providing us with a first-time client, at a cost which is cheaper than us creating a sales engine in nagpur. basically, when the guest visits our hotel, we need to ensure that they feel welcome. we need to also identify him or her, and invite them, whenever they visit the accorhotels network, so next time around they don’t have to go back to an ota. we call this the retention program. we are doing it in a very transparent man- ner, even vis-a-vis otas. they know we are doing it, and they are fine with it. because most of their volume is first-time customers, which means we don’t have common inter- ests, but we have common ambition, which is to develop the travel and tourism world. my thoughts may vary from that of a small inde- pendent hotel owner and operator. because if i have a retention program, that means i want that customer to benefit from the other brands, and the other 3,999 hotels (besides the one he stayed at), which is my strength. if you are an independent hotel, and you only own one hotel, and every time you are going to have to pay an ota, because you don’t have something else to offer. do you reckon that your own website would be able to match the might of otas ever in terms of outreach? otas have and will always be extended partners for leading hospitality players like ourselves. like i mentioned earlier, they are great for first time customer acquisition. but one cannot only rely on otas to reach out to the target audiences. as the landscape continues to evolve, a well-balanced distribu- tion and sales strategy which includes both directly-generated as well as ota generated bookings is key. over the past couple of years, we have accelerated focus on our own sales and distribution engines. we are mak- ing bold moves to get a bigger share of the pie via direct channels and control our costs by cutting down on often steep commissions. today, we are willing to make big, effective and influential marketing investments to dis- pel the myth that the lower rates can only be found on otas. as a matter of fact, accorho- tels is known world over to offer the “best rate guarantee” to guests when they book with us instead of choosing an ota. we do realise that we need to focus on conversions while also driving better user experience, data management and data analysis to make this happen. the silver lining and where we clearly have a competitive edge is understanding the needs of our customers and driving enriched guest experience to engender loyalty amongst our customers. it is crucial for hotels to make guests’ travel expe- riences easier overall with the use of mobile apps, to know how to surprise and delight guests, and to find the best ways to engage and communicate with guests the way they want to interact with the hotel. i’d again like to say that otas are in no shape and form a ‘challenge’ for us. it is the start-ups and newer models that are disrupting the landscape, and although we continue to grow bigger, there is no better time to start now. innovation is a critical component to technological growth. how are you going about enhancing the online experience of the consumer? innovation is the cornerstone of success for any industry and hotels are no different. we are operating in a highly competitive business environment, with technology disruptions and changing guest behaviours creating newer and more complicated challenges for industry players. it plays a pivotal role in promoting tourism, especially inbound travel, to ensure steady inflow of guests to help sustain and grow businesses. hotels also need to innovate and reinvent on a daily basis in order to stay relevant and distinguish themselves amidst intense competition. take goa for example. accorhotels is the largest hotel operator in the beach state with three properties and more coming up this year. however, the competition in goa is intense with plenty of standalone properties as well as branded hotels to choose from. so how do we stay relevant and differentiate ourselves? the key lies in innovation. for the launch of india’s first ibis styles hotel in goa, we not only invested in content that markets the property but also content that evokes and appeals to the audience the hotel targets. through the creative use of popular chan- nels, including social media, we were able to reach as many as 20 million potential guests through facebook alone. promotional videos we created, including “fake a vacation to goa” and “things parents never say about goa”, went viral as they attracted as many as 5.5 million views and over 80,000 shares, and counting. we have come up with similar innovative digital media campaigns for some of our other recent openings and existing properties. the key to their success was not in promoting the hotel or the brand alone but the destination itself, thus boosting inbound tourism and helping increase footfalls and recall over a period of time. if we look at guest experience, we are leveraging technology to enhance it and add value before, during and after a guest’s hotel stay. last year capped off the “digital transformation” plan for accorhotels which addresses a full range of digital channels, making accorhotels the leader in a fast- changing industry. we are investing 225 million euros over a five-year period and are leading the charge in the hospitality space. what is the share of the business coming from the cumulative online space, including your own website, domestic and foreign otas, and how do you intend to take this forward? what is your business plan for the next couple of years? in terms of pure top line performance, 2017 looks to be a very promising year for accorhotels in india and we anticipate a very healthy double digit growth year-on- year, at a much higher pace than what we experienced in 2016. we are moving quickly to invest in digital infrastructure and invest and nurture talent within our organization. it requires entire rethinking step by step. we need to ramp up our investments in infrastructure, optimize all platforms and provide a customised experience to our guests. we need to be where our customers are today and ensure that we are present across platforms and devices, and have a sharp focus on our mobile-led plans for future where the transactions are with much shorter lead times and are extremely price sensitive. additionally content would form the backbone of our overarching digital plan – be it video, visual or text. how is the transition from computers to hand-hand devices happening? how are you capturing the brilliance of your product on the mobile? how much of your online business has moved to app from computers? if you have not moved to the app then will you be taking to it? will that be the next logical step? accorhotels is investing heavily on mobile technologies and using the platform to better serve our patrons as well as ease operations. we recently launched a new version of our mobile application. as part of the rollout, various brand applications are now united in this single app which features all of the group’s hotels. the accorhotels app aims to be among the top three travel apps offering an enriched experience at every stage of the customer journey, starting from the pre-stay right up to the post-stay stage. for example: pre-stay and to assist trip prepara- tion: storage of information like flights, train tickets, an e-check-in / fast check-out, wel- come by le club accorhotels service and a recap of current bookings during stay: access to the digital press, city guides and other services which will be gradually introduced, notably taxi booking and room service ordering post-stay: loyalty program management since 2013, guests were surprised to find in novotel hotels around the world a large format touchscreen placed in the lobby, tak- ing on the role of a virtual concierge. loaded with interactive applications, the monscierge provides guests with a trusted travel companion throughout their entire journey. the virtual concierge allows customers to intuitively discover information related to the brand, to the hotel and to the local area. it also issues guidance on the points of interest located close to the hotels as well as practical information such as live weather updates and flight schedules. more playful applications also allow guests to send e-cards and access popular social media platforms. the accompanying mobile appli- cations on ios and android take the level of interactivity with guests to another level. another technology-led breakthrough we have made is in the digital payments space. technology has changed the way consumers pay for goods and services, and just like their counterparts around the world, indian hotel guests have now begun to expect to have a variety of payment options available to them. last year, we introduced accorhotels personal wallet, a seamless, quick and safe way to manage payments. our guests can register the details of up to five credit cards on their accorhotels account. they can do this, and modify or delete them, from any of their devices (mobile, tablet or desktop). in practice, this means that our guests can book their stays with just a touch of the thumb. with personal wallet now included in the one app, guests can book their rooms anywhere, any time. as we continue on our journey to stay agile using technology and enhance our guest experience, we have a slew of initia- tives lined up for 2017. here i’d like to talk about my web valet. introduced last year, my web valet allows guests access to informa- tion from the hotel on their mobile devices and make all the requests they wish in one click. they can book their spa, their table at the restaurant or their room service, check all the hotel services, track flight and weather information or even book a taxi to move about according to their desires, while follow- ing their bill in real time! to date more than 2,660 hotels, including pullman new delhi aerocity, have deployed the “lite” version. the “full” version of my web valet will see wider rollout this year. it is important to note that while technol- ogy is transforming the way we function and interact with our guests, we continue to underpin the significance of a personal touch and employee interface for our guests. that’s because we believe in establishing an emotional connection and extending an experience. we need to listen to our guests, and we use technology to allow for more time to do that, instead of merely doing away with physical contact. this is exactly how we envision our digital transformation strategy playing out. is web booking increasing your average realisations? like i mentioned earlier, our businesses are growing and the consumer behaviour is fast changing. internet proliferation and mobile penetration is rapidly increasing in india and our consumers are researching and booking us across various platforms and devices. they are having a 24x7 dialogue with us through various social media platforms. as we take a more content driven approach and are able to engage and create more personalized experiences for our online guests, our conversions would only grow with a better return on our investments. with technology comes better access to deeper consumer insights, data trends and analytics, and if we are able to marry our strategy and tactics at both corporate and line of business levels, we would be able to maximize our rois. technology-led innovations have opened up the horizon for hoteliers and the opportunity for growth are aplenty, provided we not just respond to but proactively anticipate how our guests consume information on these platforms and put technology to use.
tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce 23 3 things you need to know about southeast asian travellers graph 1 asia pacific (apac) is a growth engine of the global travel indus- try, with travel gross bookings projected to hit us$392 billion in 2017. southeast asia accounts for just 11% of that, but the region’s growing economies and burgeoning middle class populations make it a key area of focus for forward-thinking online travel agencies (otas), investors, startups and suppliers. much of the appeal is southeast asia’s upside. its online travel population of 39 million represents just 11% of the region’s adult population. as that figure rises, more travel providers are prioritizing this growing population of young, tech-savvy consumers, eager to travel. phocuswright’s the southeast asian traveler offers a detailed look at the behav- iors, attitudes and preferences of travelers in thailand, malaysia, indonesia and singa- pore. each country has distinctive market realties and consumer habits, as revealed by detailed examination of online travel book- ing habits. graph 2 graph 3 they’re young, especially in indonesia and thailand while online travelers tend to skew younger than the total travel population globally, southeast asian travelers are significantly younger than in most other travel markets. (refer graph 1) overall, nearly seven in 10 southeast asian online travelers are millennials (18-34). in indonesia and thailand, the traveler population is even younger: 45% of online travelers in indonesia and 41% in thailand are age 18-24. in all four markets, the young traveler population is a defining characteristic that has important implications for online travel. these digital natives came of age in an interconnected world, and many rely heavily on the internet and mobile devices. mobile travel adoption is high, led by indonesia and thailand with high smartphone ownership incidence across southeast asia, mobile shopping in general is popular among consumers in the region. the same is true for travel, even though desktop/laptop computers remain the most popular device type for travel shopping and booking across markets. mobile travel booking habits reveal a con- trast in southeast asia – between the more established economies and online travel markets of singapore and malaysia, com- pared to the more recently emerging markets of indonesia and thailand. more indonesian travellers report booking travel via smartphone in the past 12 months than report booking via laptop or desk- top. and although thai travelers are more likely to use desktop platforms, more than half have used mobile for travel purchases in the past year. travelers from the more mature markets of singapore and malaysia are testing the mobile waters. but they are holding onto desktop bookings in a way their neighbors – who skew younger and have less experience with online travel – are not. (refer graph 2) they prefer general search for destination selection when southeast asia travellers research travel destinations, general search engines are the most popular type of websites/ apps used. roughly seven in 10 travelers in indonesia and malaysia used a general search engine to research the destination for their last trip; a smaller share of thais and singaporeans use general search, but it is still their top source of information. (refer graph 3) online travel agencies (otas) also play a major role at the top of the funnel in southeast asia. overall, travelers are supplementing their general search engine sessions with visits to a variety of information sources – including sites and apps for social networking, traveler reviews, travel providers and messaging. explore the trends across demograph- ics, trip types and destinations, including travel purchase incidence and spend, online information sources and booking behaviors by channel and device with phocuswright’s the southeast asian traveller. organised by innovating in tourism since 1975 new delhi bharat international tourism bazaar 21-23 september, 2017
24 tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce startups are a fundamental part of the economic fabric of india, says ceo, yatra.com contrary to the notion that consolidation in the marketplace acts as a deterrent for startups in their bid to find a foothold in a dynamic business environment, dhruv shringi believes that startups must be ready to compete with established players and emerge victorious if they wish to scale up. excerpts of his interview on various facets of the online travel and technology segment. from an online travel technology perspective, firms are using technology to create differentiation. advancing at a rate of knots with new software empowering small businesses to streamline operations technology is and maximize efficiency. one of the most powerful competitive tools now accessible to companies is business intelligence software powered by big data analytics.,, dhruv shringi co-founder & ceo, yatra.com by tf bureau there have been abundant startups in the online segment, especially in the last few years. how do you think the startup culture will influence innovation in the marketplace? the indian economy is growing from strength to strength and the start-up eco- system has evolved significantly over the past decade. the government's policies, such as ‘make in india’ and ‘startup india’, have given impetus to the investment landscape for start-ups in india. indian entrepreneurs have responded to this and the last few years has seen the emergence of a plethora of start-ups in various areas, particularly the online space. all this has driven a tremendous level of innovation in the marketplace as there is always someone starting up, trying to do things differently from the status quo. i believe that we have a strong culture of innovation that is being driven by the whole start-up eco-system and this will result in some great products emanating from india. one of the things that is critical for a start-ups is to manage the innovation portfolio/process to navigate from idea stage to market launch and adoption phase. being backed by a strong bunch of vc investors often helps make this transition and is the reason behind the success of an idea. given the rise in mergers and acquisitions, the recent being ibibo and mmt, what could be its consequential impact on startups? it sure does make it difficult for them to find a foothold in a competitive marketplace? mergers and acquisitions are a part and parcel of any evolving market or business, and often help bring about changes that are good for all the industry participants. it also often helps unlock the true value and growth potential of the sector. competition is an integral part of any marketplace and a start-up needs to be ready to compete and win if they are to scale up, so i do not think mergers and acquisitions is a deterrent in any manner to the growth of the start-up eco- system. start-ups are now a fundamental part of the economic fabric of this country and play a crucial role in furthering growth and innovation in the marketplace. a lot of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies. this is particularly true for some of the recent acquisitions, raising concern over the growing cartelisation of business in the online space. what is your take on this? do you see this as a threat to business and industry? i think there is plenty of competition in key online sectors, both prior to and even after these m & a deals. i don't see any cartelisation in the online travel business as there are plenty of strong players that continue to operate and compete fairly and squarely. as i mentioned earlier, m & a often is a very positive things for the entire industry in terms of unlocking value in the business. what are some key trends in 2017? what are some areas to watch out for? what would be the area of thrust for service providers? for the online travel industry, several tail- winds are anticipated to bolster the growth such as surging internet and smartphone powered by big data analytics. in the cur- rent market scenario, it is important to keep innovating and differentiating by segment- ing customers on the basis of the data and tailoring your travel offerings specifically for these segments. mobile has become a key area for innovation and refinement of service by online players? do you reckon that the apac, especially indian and china, is heading towards a predominant mobile era – where service providers will spearhead innovations keeping in mind the mobile platform? will we see more companies embracing the idea of mobile-first? mobile and smartphone prices are crashing, and internet penetration is increasing rapidly with data becoming very cheap. this is driving the tier 2 and tier 3 town customers in india online via their mobiles. it has changed the way people shop and reflects the “anytime, anywhere” buying habits of today’s consumer. companies understand this ecosystem of the vast and quickly growing i believe that we have a strong culture of innovation that is being driven by the whole start-up eco-system. the government's policies, such as ‘make in india’ and ‘startup india’, have given impetus to the investment landscape for start-ups in india. penetration, more flexible aviation policies and infrastructural development. these fac- tors are not only bringing in new customers from tier 2 and tier 3 markets but also ena- bling better connectivity of tourist location in the country thus catalysing domestic as well as inbound tourism. all these will surely con- tribute to a robust, long-term growth outlook for india’s travel market in general and the online travel market in particular. from an online travel technology perspec- tive, firms are using technology to create differentiation. technology is advancing at a rate of knots with new software empowering small businesses to streamline operations and maximize efficiency. one of the most powerful competitive tools now accessible to companies is business intelligence software indian mobile commerce market, and have over time transformed and improved their mobile experience for their customers. more than 60% of our traffic comes via the mobile and it is the same for other online companies in india and the apac region. inevitably, innovating on the mobile is a key part of our tech strategy right now and for the future and we will be investing aggressively in this area. over the past 12 months, we launched some very interesting product features on the mobile including a lite multi-lingual app for smaller markets, an fb chat bot, voice search over the mobile, flight and trains live stats, booking of uber and ola cabs within our app and allowing user sign-in using truecaller. there is no doubt that mobile is the present and the future.
tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce 25 google will continue to be a machine learning-first company, says rob terres rob terres, managing director, travel at google opened up on several ongoing projects in the technology giant and how constant innovation, especially nuances like voice assist, was going to forever alter the way consumers look at travel and tourism. we bring you excerpts of his one-on-one interaction with lorraine sileo of phocuswright. on google trips the product was just launched; not even a year ago. and, it has been downloaded quite a few times. it is doing quite well. i think, you know, we have got a long way to go, because i think the biggest question that i get is that this is great and i love the idea that it is gathering on my itineraries at one place, but at the end of the day i want to be able to book something from this. you are recommending me a trip to the taj mahal, but i cannot book from there. so, i think the step is that how do we make it more bookable; how do we develop it so that we can book directly. so, i think there is a long way to go, but we are very happy on the fact that how many people have downloaded the product. on the possibility of ancillaries being bookable on trips in the next year i do not work on the product team side, i work on the sales and advertising side. we work closely with our product team – and certainly, we have seen the roadmap queries happening in the united states. if you think about young kids that are using phones, they use voice search for everything. they do not think about the future of this and where it is going. what does that mean for travel in the future as far as these products go? i just think that there is an opportunity to think about, i think, how that will change the way people think about travel. how they purchase travel and how they research travel. there will be a lot more of this questioning all the time. you have got this smartphone on you 24*7; you are walking in the house and all you have to say is ‘ok google’, let us think about where to go. i was with the ceo of a car company and he said that in the united states, by 2020, all cars will come with connectivity built-in. so, you will be connected, no matter where you go. so, you are going by 2020, n the united states, all cars will come with connectivity built-in. so, you will be connected, no matter where you go. so, you are going to become really used to asking questions at all times, and add to machine learning , and it gets better and better. and hopefully, some time we will see this happen. on the next biggest thing related to travel at google when we think about the future of travel as this immersive experience, certain types of technologies (voice assist) are really going to change the game. on how that changes the way google is thinking about travel well, already voice related searches, on android and ios, are nearly 25% of all to become really used to asking questions at all times, and add to machine learning and it gets better and better. when you ask these questions, it actually learns. how this is going to help in the personalisation of travel is something that is really going to change the game; it will be able to offer opportunities and probable suggestions for you based on machine learning which is going to be very important. on google being machine learning first and not a mobile-first platform well, in terms of where we are going, we well, already voice related searches, on android and ios, are nearly 25% of all queries happening in the united states. if you think about young kids that are using phones, they use voice search for everything. they do not think about the future of this and where it is going. what does that mean for travel in the future as far as these products go? i just think that there is an opportunity to think about, i think, how that will change the way people think about travel. ,, rob terres, managing director, travel at google have totally bought in on this ability that machines, because of the amounts of data it can utilise, it can solve problems so much quicker that we could in the past. so, basically you can tell the computer what to do, feed in the data, and it is getting smarter and smarter all the time. and, if you think about the kinds of opportunities that it presents with, not only in travel but anything that we are doing at google is that it gives you the chance to get better answers of the questions that you are asking. this is how it is going to help us do a much better job in answering those questions that you are asking. on plans for aggregating all the itineraries across the world and pushing something out we know your flight information, hotel details and where you are going. we know what you did there in the past, so that we can provide you better recommendation on the next trip, based on what we learnt in the last trip. on google hotel finder and if google is cannibalising revenue from key players it is definitely profitable enough. so, as i said earlier, we look ourselves as a search engine and want to connect people to give out information while at the same time help our partners gather more leads. hotel finder does a much better job and converts a much higher rate than a normal advertisement does when it is shown, and the way it is shown on a page. part of it is because of the inclusion of the rates and, others, that really allow for a more robust experience – and that is really why we went online and created products anyway. so, we do not see it as cannibalisation, but a way to covert much better for our partners and a much better experience for our travellers and consumers.
26 tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce asian travel agencies need to ramp up services, understand latest trends hyo-sun choi, business manager, yanatrip talks about her company’s journey, bottlenecks in the asian milieu and future prospects awaiting them. excerpts of her speech: on the company and its philosophy yana stands for 'you are not alone'. we choose this name to be the fastest travel partner for our individual travelers. we launched our website in june 2016. yana trip is an adventure travel platform for individual travelers. we have over 10,500 tour products in 90 cities spread across 5 continents and have 88 suppliers. these numbers are not as big as we would like them to be but it is a good start. three of us comprise our team, comprising of over 10 years of work experience individually. we have partners all over the world and our label yana has been partnering with some of the biggest names in the industry for the past four years. the asian conundrum the problems, when it comes to asia, are that there are not enough booking services for adventures and activities. in-fact, many asian travel agencies are not equipped to capture the latest trends in this particular segment. there is also a lack of infrastructure to deal with adventure tourism. here, our solution is to offer a very fast booking system and also offer direct connec- tivity through our contacts. we plan to expand our product through a multi-level platform. our target market is travelers anywhere between 20 to 40 year olds who are interested in adventure activities. in particular, travel- ers who can afford to spend on their dream experience through internet bookings. on future prospects of the company we currently cater to the asian market but are planning to expand to america and europe. we want to assist our clients right from the pre-travel stage to the post-travel stage with smarter technology in the future. yana is a travel and tech combination. our platform mainly caters to people looking for unique adventure experiences and activities, of which we have a plethora of choices. we are more focused on what our clients do than what they see. we normally get 10-20% commission on our sales through our b2c model as of now. we plan to expand our business model to incorporate b2b transactions as a wholesaler very soon. we plan to be a curator for individual asian adventure travelers. ours is a very strong network in the tourism field as well as with the local suppliers. we intend to be a world- wide activity platform. our sales and traffic have shown a consistent rise since the launch of our website. although comprising of only three members, ours is an amazing team and we manage all the aspects of this business ranging from creating the website to getting sales. we may be small but we are very strong. we hope that phocuswright will be the platform that will help us in getting connected with the right people who in turn can help us realize our vision. important for us to stay focussed on reliable service, consumer experience: expedia simon fiquet, general manager, expedia, south east asia and india, iterates his commitment to the indian market, stating that reliable consumer service and quality of experience will remain paramount for them. excerpts of the interview: increasing mobile and internet penetra- tion, we are likely to see the online travel industry on a growth trajectory in india, however we think it's important to stay focused on the entire traveller journey, and delivering a consumer experience that makes the online shopping experience simple, reliable and to match this with the choice of products, at great pricing. it will be interesting to see how the india land- scape for online travel unfolds over time. what are some key trends in 2017? what are some areas to watch out for? a key trend that's driving our innovation currently is the consumer move to mobile, and asia is pushing this trend: • brand expedia points of sale in asia grew mobile room nights over 65% in the fourth quarter 2016, with almost all key asian markets getting more mobile visi- tors than desktop visitors. • nearly 1 in 3 transactions are now booked via mobile globally on expedia group sites globally. • nearly 45% of traffic now arrives via mobile across a wide range of expedia group sites globally. there were 180+mil- lion (cumulative) app downloads (at 31/12/16) for expedia group globally. asia is driving this mobile trend globally. expedia wide scale, with insights into both hotel and homeaway bookings, is that consumers will jump between traditional accommodations and vacation rentals. personalisation and simplicity are core consumer demands today. as a service-orient- ed industry, we need to meet this need. from increasing the efficiency of natural language processing for real-time chat bots to voice computation with amazon echo and siri, hotels need to get smarter about how technology interacts with consumers – to give them that personalised, instantaneous and satisfying interaction. since travel is visual and experiential by nature, augmented and virtual reality are a natural fit. great design and functionality, matched with the product choice and great pricing combines to make a great consumer experience online. do you reckon that the apac, especially indian and china, is heading towards a predominant mobile era? mobile is fast becoming the first point of contact for consumers when making their travel plans, whether it is researching about a destination, gathering information about accommodation, location, language, cuisine and more, to making the actual bookings. this dynamic shift is making india a mobile-first market; fueling innovations, product launches and easy usability on apps and mobile web platforms across the industry. ac- cording to skift, by 2017, about 30% of the online bookings in india will be made on a mobile device. global data: • basis travel flash report smartphones beat tablets hands down for hotel bookings, with an 81% share. as per the euromonitor online travel report, mobile sales accounted for 12.5% of total online travel bookings made globally in 2014 and are expected to account for 25% of total global online travel bookings by 2019. there have been abundant startups in the online segment, especially in the last few years. how do you think the startup culture is, and will, influence innovation in the marketplace? at expedia, we encourage start-up culture and thinking out-of-the-box to fuel in- novation. it’s something we’ve embraced for 20+ years. our global success comes from a culture that values innovation and investment in technology: expedia is the largest travel company on the planet: usd$72billion in gross bookings in 2016 /20,000+ employees globally / 600 million monthly site visits (on average in 2016). expedia's market- place for travel offers huge range of choice: serving partners and consumers. a lot of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies. this is particularly true for some of the recent acquisitions, raising concern over the growing cartelisation of business in the online space. what is your take on this? do you see this as a threat to business and industry? travel is complex and highly competi- tive business. phocuswright estimates the global travel market to be a usd1.3trillion global market, with asia pacific representing usd$392billion of that. phocuswright estimates the online travel market represents around 37% of the total travel market in apac, of which we estimate our share to be around 5%. there is opportu- nity for everyone in this complex and highly competitive asia pacific market. expedia’s asia pacific business is growing: brand expedia's australia new zealand region surpassed the usd$i billion gross bookings mark in 2016 / brand expedia japan reached general manager, expedia, south east asia and india simon fiquet usd$i billion gross bookings/ in q4 2016, international gross bookings increased 13%, representing gross bookings of usd$6.1 billion. expedia group’s international bookings re- flected 38% of worldwide bookings (compared with 36% in q4 2015). for indian travellers: expedia's global scale brings indian consum- ers a wide choice of hotels at great prices. expedia has a commitment to the indian market, contributing to indian economy through our research & development hub investments & employment, and inbound tourism. specifically, for india, we're seeing some consolidation as the industry matures. with has created an app experience that goes beyond searching and booking and gives travellers tools and services they need to solve problems and make last-1 minute decisions during every stage of the trip: it's a travel companion, holding your itinerary and alerting you to any flight or sched- ule changes etc as you travel. additional macro travel trends in india include the sharing economy, the growth of independent holidays, and the growth of outbound travel. these are all opportunities for expedia in india. what we are seeing at expedia on a
tourismf irst@phocuswright ind ia co nfere nce 27 ergy between the two groups is probably what slows down application growth for localisation. most likely you have developers who are not looking for the localiza- tion team to perform at the same development schedule as they are. the developers are the ones who lead the conversation and not the localization team. companies must un- derstand if this is their way forward? depends on what is creating the downloads and creating the revenue. by 2025 the an- nual consumption of emerging markets will be 30 trillion dollars. how to take a piece of this? just because you create a mobile app in a local language is not enough. we have to be able to support the app with customer support, transactional emails, marketing material and more. it is not just simply translating your app. you need to support all the functions in the business that entertain that language. one of the biggest compounding factors is that today people want more updates, more content that is newer and fresher. if you don’t provide this, they will move and find the next best thing. the app that have the highest frequency of content updates are the ones that see the biggest in-app use. we also have more languages and less time to provide these frequent updates in multiple languages and provide localised content. there is the element of translation quality and speed. lastly, there are also constraints on budgets. localization and language are critical in the most downloaded travel apps in 2016 kyle martinowich, sales director at smartling, shared yesterday afternoon the increasing demand for localization of content and the challenges associated in delivering this in an efficient, timely and cost effective manner. w hat do the most downloaded travel applications have in common? in one word – lo- calisation. these apps provide a very hyper localized environment for their customers to navigate the application. a market research firm shared at the end of 2016 that 75% of buyers strongly agree that when faced with the choice of two similar products they are more likely to purchase the product that is in the language that they most associate with. in general, especially here in india while many speak in english that is not enough to drive users to download and engage. they would prefer apps in their local language as it makes for a better customer journey. two of the most downloaded travel ap- plications in 2016, between google play and itunes, were uber and airbnb. uber is in 493 cities and 70 countries and their application is in 46 languages. this is extremely impor- tant for uber from two perspectives. firstly, they need the consumers who are travelling in any of these 493 cities to associate with the language and they also need the drivers to have ease of access. these drivers want to see app notifications and updates in their most native language. this year ola cabs had a 300% user uptake from the fact that they went into 8 native languages in india. it also drove driver satisfaction up by 3000% and the app is now hyper local. that has also driven up their revenue helping them make inroads against uber in india. the second application is airbnb. in 2016, they moved from 13 languages to 27 languages, and operate in 190 countries and 34,000 cities. the most important part that they surveyed of their audience, mostly 18-25 year olds, is that they want things to be highly localized to them. what makes this hard? mobile applica- tions are difficult – you have the developers and the people who are writing content and this is inconsistent with each other. the syn- kyle martinowich sales director - smartling sebastien gibergues, head of leisure and online travel, amadeus it group s.a. companies like smartling are help- ing reduce the overall cost per word and make the localisation process better, more efficient, faster and cheaper. by using tech- nology your cost should come down on an annual basis. a market research firm shared at the end of 2016 that 75% of buyers strongly agree that when faced with the choice of two similar products they are more likely to purchase the product that is in the language that they most associate with. they would prefer apps in their local language as it makes for a better customer journey. ,, the next key scenario is the mobile travel retailer. this is about engage- ment with the customer along their journey. 53% of cleartrip’s traffic comes from the mobile and 70% of its mobile customers are now using the mobile as their only channel for transaction. the mobile travel retailer brings together many technologies and innovations that lead to superior search and experience. you could use a chatbox – enabling full booking flow, servicing and payment. and lastly end-to-end service and user generated content during and after a trip. the fourth and final scenario is the travel marketplace. with more and more leading it companies and e-commerce giants creating demand for new and innovative platforms, the players of the travel industry could online travel 2020: what should travel players be doing today? sebastien gibergues, head of leisure and online travel, amadeus it group talked on day 1 of the phocuswright conference about evolution of four critical scenarios in the future of online travel taking into account all the drivers affecting the business environment today. gibergues speaks of different sce- narios to try to understand what type of investment and what type of technology each scenario would require. the first of the four is mega online travel retailers which reflects a consolidation of ota’s and metasearch business models. this has resulted in the rise of online adver- tising. online players today need not only traditional and bookable content but want to monetize all the traffic that comes to the site but does not convert. there is a cost associ- ated with bringing that customer to the page and therefore important to monetize that visit. this has resulted in the need to integrate some advertising or some referral content. it is critical to find the right mix of bookable content that has a certain margin built in with the probability that this user would end up buying. but if conversion is low, you can earn using referral content by monetizing that user by clicking to go off to another site. the second is the digital tour operator. here traditional tour operators align with otas and become the ultimate travel seller by providing a combination of digital and human interaction. the digital operation ensures personalization, flexibility, dynamic packaging technology and convenience. imagine a digital tour operator with a cool concept brick and mortar store where customers engage with agents. here is the human contact. the customer would then continue this same interaction after having left the store via an app and use it for all queries or feedback or blogs. come together and build their own travel marketplace platform for ota’s, airlines, hotels and other travel related companies to sell their products and services. there is however a potential downside for the suppli- ers as they risk losing their relationship with the customer. at amadeus, says gibergues, the focus is on delivering more content and technology to support these evolving and expanding business models to optimize investments and adaptability.
presents tourism under one roof with a focus on technology online travel and you are a leading player in online travel & technology! make sure you attend as an exhibitor who will you meet • 2,000+ travel trade visitors and industry professionals • 200 international hosted buyers for inbound • 800 indian hosted buyers for domestic and outbound • 500+ exhibiting companies from india and overseas • 25+ countries and 25+ indian states • 25+ cultural manifestations – arts/cuisine • 5,000+ like-minded travellers for b2c • 100+ travel industry speakers and experts at 8 power conclaves • fraternity members, your clients across sectors such as airlines, hotels, brick and mortar agents, governments in india and overseas. book now and avail early bird savings: • there is no increase in cost of booth space over 2016 tariff • 10% saving on cost of booth space • have your pick of premium location at no extra cost • plan ahead to make the most of your participation. as a buyer • meet your own peers and also connect with the larger tourism industry. • expand your business and meet with products across tourism verticals • make new contacts and network and renew associations. • promote your brand amongst industry’s senior and influential audience • attend power conclaves to learn from the best and better understand industry trends s t h g i l h g h 6 1 0 2 i 2016 technology & online partners & exhibitors organised by yaadhum oorey, yaavarum kaelir. innovating in tourism since 1975 new delhi bharat international tourism bazaar 21-23 september, 2017 call: +91 97177 64717 email: firstname.lastname@example.org