After years of presence in India, booking.com has seen a shift with the lion’s share of bookings coming from domestic and outbound travel.
Earlier, inbound travel used to be revenue generator for the company. It continues to get the highest bookings for hotel rooms, however, air travel and experiences is picking pace, said Santosh Kumar, Country Head of the Online Travel Agency (OTA), adding that the company has crossed its pre-Covid level inventory mark, too.
Kumar, who took over as the country head almost a year ago, told businessline that earlier the lion’s share for bookings and revenues for booking.com India came from inbound travel. “We have a global presence. We entered as an inbound player but you will be surprised how our platform has grown in India. We’ve seen a major shift in our booking trends. Today, the lion’s share comes from bookings in the domestic segment as well as the outbound travel segment instead of inbound travel.”
He further emphasised that booking.com plans to sustain its growth in this sector in the future as well. When questioned about the driving force behind this growth, Kumar explained that apart from Europe, there are several countries globally where booking.com is experiencing significant growth, making them a top priority market for the platform. Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic prompted Indians to explore their own country more extensively, leading to the inclusion of numerous unexplored destinations on India’s map. With outbound travel gaining momentum again, Kumar anticipates that this positive growth trend will persist.
Within the Asia Pacific region, countries like Japan, Australia and India continue to be a boost to global numbers. The company has made efforts investing in technology, fintech and language in India, besides adding inventory. booking.com has launched Hindi as a language, it has also invested heavily in technology and fintech in India. It has also launched flights, car service and experiences on its platform over the past few years.
He explained that within segments too, the company has seen an uptick. “Our inventory for hotels as well as alternate accommodation is way above pre-Covid levels. Besides this, we have seen an uptick in our flights bookings. In fact, 20 per cent of our new users are coming searching for flight bookings and end up booking a hotel too. This is working out to be a great combination for us.”
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Other Indian portals such as MakeMyTrip, ixigo, ClearTrip, EaseMyTrip and Yatra are in the race of becoming super apps. These portals have extensive services such as train bookings, visa services, cruises, holiday packages, etc.
When asked about the portal’s plan to introduce train bookings and add more languages, he said that currently the company sees enough and more growth within the hotel, alternate accomodation, flight bookings, cab services and experiences. Once the company has achieved a substantial growth, it would look at expanding into other segments. However, it isn’t something that the company isn’t mulling over.
Speaking about the year ahead, he said that India is poised for a “healthy growth” propelled by events and Covid finally being behind us.