There is a lot of growth happening as far as travel is concerned, both domestic and international, and it will remain consistent in the years to come
With capacity induction from all airlines, financial pressures faced because of high crude rates and a depreciating rupee, 2018 has been a dynamic year for the airline industry.
And to top it all, consumers have seen drastic changes in pricing for their travel, says Balu Ramachandran, head of air and distribution at Cleartrip.
In an interview with Moneycontrol, Ramachandran said debit card payments gained ground on Cleartrip in 2018. According to data gathered, debit cards gained a 32 percent payments share in 2018, increasing substantially from 25 percent in 2017.
Q: Have Indians been holidaying more in 2018 when compared to 2017? If yes, can you tell us what have been the reasons behind this?
A: There is a lot of growth happening as far as travel is concerned, both domestic and international, and that trajectory looks like it will remain consistent in the years to come.
We have seen growth of 20-22 percent in domestic travel and 30-35 percent in international travel.
One fundamental reason behind the growth is change in people’s mindset. People now want to do multiple short breaks and prefer these holidays to longer vacations. For instance, for a location like Bali, customers are happy doing a four-day holiday and go on a holiday later again rather than booking one long holiday somewhere covering multiple cities. This has made the number of travels go up. This is followed by the fact that the Indian market is seeing a lot of capacity addition in terms of airlines, hence this made flights slightly cheaper than what they used to be and also easily available. Also, unlike what it used to be earlier, holidays are no longer about long planning. There is a surge in last-minute bookings too. We have seen a 48 percent growth in last-minute bookings against 2017.
Q: Tell us about the most traveled destinations in India and abroad in 2018? Were there any new additions?
A: From the volume standpoint, Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok, Kathmandu, Colombo, Dhaka, London, Sharjah, Kuala Lampur and Doha were the most booked locations. New locations people booked were Bali, Manama and Kuwait. Also, South America was the highest growth region among international travel bookings from India, helped by a drop of close to 16 percent in airfare to the region. However, it may be noted that its share remains small in the overall international bookings.
Among local destinations, Ahmedabad, Goa, Kochi, Jaipur, Vishakapatnam, Guwahati and Coimbatore were the most traveled destination.
Q: Can you tell us about the airfare trends in 2018? Has it been higher or lower than the previous year?
A: For domestic travel, fares were 3 percent lower than 2017 on an average and, for international, fares were higher by around 6 percent.
Q: Is there any new trend from 2018? For example, are women taking up solo trips, etc?
A: Oh yes, with rising income levels, there has been a marked increase of 22 percent in the number of women travelers taking international trips. Furthermore, the number of online travel-related searches by women has doubled, while the number of millennial women searching for travel-related information online has registered a 1.7x increase.
Q: There has been an extreme fall in value of rupee in 2018. Tell us about the impact it has had on Indian travelers and the travel industry?A: Dollar destinations have not lost popularity drastically, people might change dates but not let go off the plan altogether. Short haul breaks became very popular — these were countries where currency is not very expensive. Popular short-haul destinations of 2018 were Singapore- Universal Studios and S.E.A. Aquarium, Sentosa, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and Dubai Aquarium, Pattaya’s Alcazar Cabaret and Underwater World and Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World and Desert Safari.