Companies

Travel operators perk up offerings to beat online agencies

Balaji Narasimhan Bangalore | Updated on March 12, 2018

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Faced with stiff competition from online travel agencies (OTAs), traditional travel operators are trying to offer more holiday packages to retain and woo customers.

“OTAs are primarily used for point to point travel. They may be well funded but are not necessarily profitable,” said Shravan Gupta, Managing Director, Travel Tours Pvt. Ltd.

But this doesn’t mean that offline travel operators do not face any risks. Sanjay Gupta, Chairman of the Karnataka chapter of Travel Agents Federation of India, said, “It is making an impact. OTAs have the power to reach out to more people and also have greater buying power. Traditional travel agencies need to offer personalised service to stay viable.”

Supriya Kandhari, Managing Director of Chrysalis Holidays, said that the loyalty of customers and knowledge of ideal holiday destinations was helping traditional players. “We have branched out into holidays. That is why we are not losing out so much even if we are not doing ticketing,” she said.

Some operators are selling experiences to build loyalty. Shravan Gupta said that his company put together a very Indian experience for a group of executives who were visiting India from the Netherlands. “We organised elephant polo for them in Jaipur and had cycle rickshaws pick them up from the airport in Agra,” he said.

Creating an experience is one area that makes offline travel agencies stand apart from OTAs, said Shravan. Discussing one of the special packages he put together, he said, “We recently had an Indian wedding on a ship travelling from Singapore to India. Since the ship captain prohibited us from lighting a fire on board, we docked in Penang for performing the fire ritual.”

But traditional operators could face pressure from OTAs, who are also interested in moving up the value chain to offer holiday packages. For instance, MakeMyTrip’s revenues from hotels and packages for the quarter ended June 30, 2012 rose 20 per cent to $7.1 million.

>balaji.n@thehindu.co.in

Published on August 09, 2012

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