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BW Businessworld

2017… The Year Of Impulse-travel

The travel behaviour of Indians has witnessed a huge change especially in the last five years. India's rising middle class and increasing disposable incomes has continued to support the growth of domestic and outbound tourism

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With one of the largest and fastest-growing tourism industries in the world, India is poised to see a significant rise in travel. Hotel accommodation category is the single-biggest contributor to the tourism industry. Given the rapid growth of the sector, it is interesting to note the emergence of new trends as the decision-making power shifts largely to the millennial generation.
 
The travel behaviour of Indians has witnessed a huge change especially in the last five years. India's rising middle class and increasing disposable incomes has continued to support the growth of domestic and outbound tourism. Business travel spending in the country is expected to treble until 2030 from US$ 30 billion in 2015. According to Government of India estimates, domestic tourist visits to states and Union Territories (UTs) grew by 15.5 per cent y-o-y to 1.65 billion during 2016.
 
Growing technology adoption and the ease of mobile-enabled transactions is fueling new trends in consumer behaviour. One is familiar with how app-based taxi services have made commuting from point A to point B much easier and affordable. Unlike a few years ago - when the use of cabs was restricted for important occasions like going to the airport or railway station or an important meeting - today's generation does not hesitate to book a cab using their mobile apps, even to go to the neighbourhood market.  Just so, while leisure and business are the major drivers to travel, new travel patterns are emerging with online hotel brands enabling last-minute bookings and pay-at-hotel options. Confident in this knowledge, more people are choosing to make and execute plans on a real-time basis. In fact we have also witnessed a growing pattern for people to stay in a hotel in the city of their residence for a weekend break or staycation.
 
At OYO we have witnessed a growth in the share of same-city bookings. 58% bookings at OYO are made within 24 hours prior to check-in - in fact, 16% bookings are what we call "last-minute" bookings, i.e., made just one hour prior to check-in.  We are also seeing young millennials opting to stay at a nearby hotel for non-travel-related reasons such as, working late and wanting to avoid a long two-way commute, partying out with friends and wanting to avoid driving or going back home late. We see our guests using OYO as their go-to place when they can't get back home due to various reasons. There is an opportunity to make the idea of checking into a hotel as casual and informal as shopping online or making a movie plan!
 
"Impulse planning" is a clear trend, especially among millennials. Despite last-minute decision-making, travellers' expectations in terms of service, facilities and experience are growing more pre-determined and non-negotiable. In a survey that we conducted last year, guests revealed WiFi, Breakfast and Room Hygiene as their biggest expectations. Thus the onus on travel partners such as hoteliers and those offering travel-related services is to ensure consistent, high-quality service delivery. This phenomenon of impulse planning while seeking standardized services represents an attitudinal shift in Indians, particularly within the millennial and Gen Z demographic.  Consumers want complete freedom to choose, change and decide at a moment's notice, but the quality and consistency of service is non-negotiable.
 
Customer preference for brands over distributors is also expected to solidify as their experiences and exposure increase.

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.


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Year End 2017 travel tourist

Ritesh Agarwal

The author is the founder & CEO of OYO

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