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BW Businessworld

Smarter Travel

Online travel companies will focus on personalisation in a big wayindustry

Photo Credit : Tarun Gupta


Today, India is at an inflection point when it comes to digital transformation. With Internet now integral to urban life and deepening smartphone penetration, there is a massive change in people’s consumption patterns.  

The growth of the mobile market in India is not surprising. As per Mary Meeker’s Internet trends 2017 report, cheaper wireless data is encouraging greater smartphone ownership and has caused data consumption to jump 9X year over year. While we have seen a lot of technological transformations over the last two decades, there is set to be an exponential growth of the kind not witnessed before in technological innovations.  

Companies are now reimagining their core businesses through a combination of transformational technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Immersive Connectivity, Hyper-Personalisation among others. These technologies are now being implemented by almost all consumer obsessed companies and Online Travel companies too are building  customer-centric products and features.  

One of the foremost focus of travel-tech companies will be to foster individualised engagement with the traveller. Personalising the traveller journey begins with understanding traveller behaviour and predicting what they will need even before they begin the booking process. Today’s travellers want unique experiences tailored to their priorities and want to take control of their own itineraries.
Travel companies are already delivering consumers somewhat personalised offers, although arguably these efforts have been moderate at best. Since travellers will begin to expect bespoke offerings, it is set to move from nice to ‘have to’ — a compelling differentiator and business generator for the travel industry. I foresee a lot of online travel companies that are driven by tech, not tech-enabled — but driven by tech to focus on personalisation in a big way.

From spotting patterns in booking behaviours to highlighting the decision-making process for specific demographics — Artificial Intelligence is proving to be a powerful force for the travel business. For Internet businesses, especially travel e-commerce where the cost of switching is almost next to nil, given that the customer has to only browse from one app to the other — AI and its various off-shoots are going to be even more critical. So, the race is now on to deliver highly personalised and contextual offers that will dramatically shape the way we will seek and select our travel experiences.
There has been a rapid growth in business and leisure travel in the past decade.  As per the Global Business Travel Association, with an annual growth of more than 11 per cent, India is the fastest growing business travel market in the world today. Earlier business travel was a smaller piece of the pie, but now it is considered an important aspect in the overall growth of any corporate. Business travel often involves unplanned flights, last minute hotel booking which can be hard to pull together at short notice. Hence, corporates are now taking to new travel tools that drive savings, efficiencies, compliance and traveller safety.

Technology is changing the rules for the travel industry while also unlocking new revenue opportunities for travel players. This is just the beginning of an exciting change that is set to make travel smarter, at a pace not known before.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Deep Kalra

The author is founder & group CEO, Makemytrip

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