Companies

India business back at 2019 levels: Booking.com’s Ritu Mehrotra

Abhishek Law | Updated on: May 24, 2022

| Photo Credit: PICHUMANI K

‘Leisure travel making a strong comeback’

Long stays between 3 and 7 days account for 54 per cent of the global searches while stays above 8 days account for 20 per cent of searches on travel portal Booking.com. The portal’s India business is back at 2019 levels and is already “moving in the right direction towards normalcy”, said its Commercial Director for APAC, China & Oceania, Ritu Mehrotra.

With leisure travel making a strong comeback, the company’s April 2022 bookings are already better than April 2019 levels.

Booking.com, part of NASDAQ-listed Booking Holdings, saw gross bookings (globally) at around $27 billion. For the portal, March 2022 was the first month where Gross Bookings exceeded $10 billion in a single month, up by 17 per cent versus March 2019.

According to Mehrotra, India “is already a percentage point higher”, with domestic travel picking up and international travel starting to pick up. Business travel, incidentally, is also “creeping back”. Metro destinations have been among the first to pick up, while leisure locations such as Goa, Ooty, Mcleodganj, Manali, Rishikesh and Gangtok are among the popular summer destinations.

International travel destination preferences include the UK, US, France, Italy, Thailand, Canada and Singapore.

“Average daily rates (ADR) at hotels are up and people are choosing flexibility of stay where change of travel plans are possible, sustainable travel and longer stay durations are other upcoming trends. Hybrid models of work-and-leisure for a weekly or monthly period are also being witnessed and it looks as if these will be here to stay,” she told BusinessLine.

Referring to global data, Mehrotra said constant currency ADR growth versus 2019 accelerated from 13 per cent in Q4 (Oct-Dec) to 18 per cent in Q1 (Jan-Mar).

Among some of the recent trends, Indian travellers have started looking up for pet-friendly accommodations and accordingly, the company has opted to include a new filter in its booking window.

Another prominent trend is booking windows are shorter by 30 – 40 per cent for inbound or domestic travellers.

According to Mehrotra, Indians have also begun exploring alternative accommodation as a part of their travel plans. Stay durations here are “upwards of two weeks” and typically include homes, villas, beach homes, bungalows, tree-house, among others.

Booking.com currently has over 880,000 reported listings (55,000 properties) in India with over 140,000 of them being in the alternative accommodation space.

Published on May 24, 2022
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