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Published on : Friday, December 12, 2014
Summing up the year Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, TripAdvisor India said “Travel sentiment rebounded in a fairly robust manner in 2014 with Indian travellers indicating an upping in their travel spends by 15 percent, despite the fact that only 14 percent of them felt more confident about the economy. What’s most exciting is the huge opportunity that mobile booking represents with a significant portion of travellers both globally and in India already using their smartphones to find things to do and search for hotels whilst they are travelling. It is only a matter of time before mobile bookings overtake bookings through other devices, as is happening in the wider e-commerce space.”
“The overall market outlook looks particularly promising and poised for a strong uptick from here onwards – with the online population of India growing to more than 250 million, with more than 180 million on mobile internet, and more than 100 million active social media users, this intersection of online, social and mobile, provides the perfect recipe for TripAdvisor to really start influencing Indian travel planning and booking in a big way” he added.
2014 – YEAR IN A RECAP
The year began with an optimistic outlook for travel plans for Indians with results of the TripBarometer study (April 2014) painting a positive picture for the global travel industry. As per the findings, overall travellersplanned to spend more on their holidays in 2014 with the average annual traveller spend rising from US$5,955 in 2013 to US $6,136 this year, an increase of three percent. On average, Indians planned to increase their annual travel spend by 15 percent from US$3,264 in 2013 to US$3,746 in 2014, though this was still behind the average global travel budget.
The proportion of travellers planning to travel more increased across almost all markets. This year, 90 percent of global travellersplanned to travel domestically (up from 87 percent in 2013) and 77 percent planned to travel internationally, up 12 percent compared to 2013 (65%).
The study also revealed that ninety-five percent of Indian travellers planned to travel domestically (down 1% compared to 2013) while 66 percent planned to travel abroad, up 21 percent compared to last year.
The increase in travel budgets and travel plans was mirrored by business confidence – 70 percent of global hoteliers said they were optimistic about their profitability in 2014 (up from 67% in 2013). Similarly, four in five (83%) Indian hoteliers said they were optimistic about their profitability in2014 (down from 89% in 2013). Over half (55%) of Indian hoteliers also planned to increase room rates with 51% saying this was due to increased overheads.
Despite relatively low optimism in the economy (only 11 percent of global respondents and 14 percent of Indian respondents reported spending more on travel because they felt more confident about the economy), travellers were not willing to give up their holidays, with many opting to hunt for bargains and make sacrifices in other areas of their lives in order to protect their travel spend.
Currency fluctuation was the top most reason to affect travel plans of Indian travellers, with 63 percent indicating that it would impact their holiday plans, compared to 44 percent globally. Despite this, those affected still planned to travel. Of those travellers who said currency fluctuation would impact them, 53 percent global respondents and 44 percent Indian respondents researched more to find the best price.
Connected on the Go
91 percent of global travellers said they were attached to their mobiles; India and China led the pack with 98 percent of travellers from each country saying they used their smartphones on holiday. Two in five (41%) Indians used their smartphone to find things to do, and over one-third (35%) to search for hotels.
The global travellers’ pervasive use of mobile phones is reflected in TripAdvisor’s mobile app downloads. So far, 150 million people have downloaded the TripAdvisor family of mobile apps, growing at triple digit rate.
TripAdvisor’s mobile audience globally grew to nearly 50% of total traffic (Q3 2014) with Asia witnessing triple digit year-on-year growth in mobile audience across a number of markets.
TripAdvisor introduced‘Instant Booking’ in the US, a feature available through the TripAdvisor mobile app and website that allows travellers to quickly and easily make a hotel reservation through the hotel or online travel agency (OTA) partner whilst conveniently remaining on the TripAdvisor app. Instant booking is a huge focus for our company and though it is currently available to US travellers across all platforms (mobile, tablet and desktop), we expect to roll out to more markets in 2015.
On the business side, three in four (76%) global hoteliers and eight in ten (81%) Indian hoteliers already had a mobile offering for travellers. Out of those who did not offer mobile services, 50 percent of global hoteliers and 64 percent of Indian hoteliers planned to introduce it in 2014. Almost half (47%) of Indian hoteliers allowed guests to book rooms via their website on a mobile device, and 32 percent had a mobile friendly website.
With traveller interest growing by 48 percent year-on-year, Singapore led the pack when it came to increased interest from travellers looking at Indian properties, representing an increasingly important source of business for Indian accommodations.
Emerging markets likeUkraine and Chinaalso showed signs of promise as new inbound markets for India with traveller interest increasing by 43 percent and 33 percent, year-on-year, respectively.
2015 – TRENDS FORECAST
Tapping the Mobile Opportunity
The shift toward mobile channels is a global phenomenon, representing unprecedented opportunities for businesses looking to capture travellers at every stage of the travel journey.
The mobile opportunity in India also is the most significant one, both for the commerce and personalization possibilities the device brings to travel planning and booking. Other opportunities will lie in Indian travel companies leveraging online and mobile to provide previously unavailable levels of engagement, touch points and service right through the various phases of the travel booking, experience and post travel cycle.
Online and mobile bookings for attractions and activities represent a huge opportunity as well.
Looking ahead at the next 12 months, Europe tops the list of places global travellers plan to visit (46%), followed by Asia (39%) and North America (32%). At 33 percent, New Zealand is the ‘dream’ overseas destination for Indians to visit in the next 12 to 24 months, closely followed by France (32%) and Switzerland (31%). Australia and Italy top the list of destinations global travellers would choose to visit if money were no object.