Variety

How Indians think travel

CHITRA NARAYANAN | Updated on February 06, 2011 Published on February 06, 2011

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Kiran Mani, Head – Vertical Sales, Google India

For the first time ever, Google India has done a comprehensive study on how India shops for travel online. “On the Internet, travel is the most interesting category in terms of growth and e-commerce,” says Kiran Mani, head of vertical sales, Google India, describing why it decided to collate all the searches made from within India, and on Indian destinations to come up with a report on consumer behaviour on online travel. According to him, there was 58 per cent growth in travel queries year-on-year in the desktop space – and 250 per cent growth in the mobile space.

Some of the findings are eye-openers, but when you think about it, logical as well. Mani points out how it's hotels and accommodation that is the most searched category with over 54.4 per cent queries, air tickets second with 27 per cent searches and holiday destinations just 8 per cent.

Although the hotel category is twice as large as air tickets, Mani says people are still ‘RoPO' about it - researching online and purchasing offline! But as Make My Trip's Somani explains, it's logical because airlines is a commoditised activity – with just about seven or eight airlines to choose from, it's a fairly simple decision to buy tickets from point A to B while hotels is a far more complex buying decision involving more searches. For instance, he says, Make My Trip has over 4,000 hotels on offer, but only very few are branded, making decisions difficult.

In the coming years, Mani believes this could be the sweet spot for the industry. “If there are branded players such as Ginger or Lemon Tree – organised chains that give you clean affordable accommodation - then e-commerce in that category picks up far faster,” he says. He also points out that intermediaries such as online travel sites can add enormous value by building trust and recommendations for hotels.

The other big finding the study throws up is that what we search for on the desktop and the mobile are dramatically different. The top category of searches is holiday destinations at 56 per cent, hotels at 23 per cent and air travel at 12 per cent.

Another interesting finding is that within holiday destinations as a category, more queries on hill stations are generated than beaches. While Goa is the top beach destination, Manali is the top hill destination, the study finds.

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Published on February 06, 2011
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