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Will Booking.com Book Its Place In India?

According to a Phocuswright 2016 report, India’s travel market growth will outpace its GDP growth by 2020. Today, home grown companies such as makemytrip, yatra and goibibo and international giants such as Expedia and Thomas Cook dominate more than half of the Indian travel market.

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India is poised to become one of the world’s top five travel markets in the years to come. Industry reports point out the immense growth potential in the market and predict that the net worth of the industry would be $ 40 billion by 2020.  

According to a Phocuswright 2016 report, India’s travel market growth will outpace its GDP growth by 2020. Today, home grown companies such as makemytrip, yatra and goibibo and international giants such as Expedia and Thomas Cook dominate more than half of the Indian travel market. These companies enjoy the highest booking per visitor rates through their portals in the OTA segment in India.

However, the market size in India is increasing and newer players are placing their foot. One such player which might pose a huge challenge to the existing status of Indian travel market space is booking.com.

Priceline group which owns booking.com is the second largest OTA player in the world, behind Expedia, with gross bookings at $68.1 billion in 2016. In India, booking.com has signed up around 28,000 properties across various hotels and private vacation homes. 

“India is a huge market for us and we are expanding in the subcontinent at a great pace”, said Gillian Tans, CEO, booking.com in an exclusive interaction with BW Businessworld. “We are following the consumer demand in India, wherever the people like to travel, we are setting up properties there as we are closely monitoring the trends,” added Vikas Bhola, regional manager, Indian subcontinent for Booking.com.

The company has devised a unique strategy of partnering with its market rivals in India. For example, booking.com is currently a major partner of its rival makemytrip. “We have a strategic partnership with makemytrip.com. We are present in almost every country in the world while makemytrip.com is quite popular in India. So, it is a symbiotic relationship. We supply them with our properties for their outbound traffic and they do the same for us for our inbound traffic,” added Vikas.

While booking.com is slowly making roads for itself in the Indian OTA segment, the company’s marketing and advertising strategy in India has not been that fierce. While  Expedia and Airbnb  are putting in a huge amount of money on advertising in India, booking.com has fairly stayed behind in terms of company’s M&A in India. “In India we advertise the most on digital platform. Although, we are among the highest spenders on advertising on a global level,” said Vikas.

Travel market has an immense potential in the northeast. Bhola shares his thoughts on booking.com’s Northeast strategy, “We have recently opened up an office in Kolkata to expand in the northeastern region. It is a huge space for us.”

Indian travel market looks more welcoming than ever,  whether  booking.com rides the growth wave to secure its position at the top is a question which only time can answer.  


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