The travel industry, hit hard by a slump in the aviation business and the economic slowdown, is experimenting with newer formats to boost sales.
For instance, Travelport, a Mumbai-based travel house, has decided to make holidaying an over the counter (OTC) experience, where the customer can plan his travel. Travelport will launch about 150-200 such travel solution shops across the country and has decided to tie up with several malls, multiplexes and retail chains for the purpose.
The first OTC counter has been launched at InOrbit mall in the western suburb of Malad in Mumbai. The company also plans to open unmanned kiosks like travel ATMs, which would function 24X7 and cater to the emergency needs of a traveller who may need to change his plans even in the middle of the night.
The company is looking at generating business worth Rs 70 crore-plus from the travel kiosks and self-operated travel ATMs in the first year of operation. The average cost of setting up one kiosk is around Rs 5 lakh, with the running cost of Rs 1 lakh.
"At these counters, a customer can browse through the touch screen information kiosks and custom make his travel plans. He can make air and railway ticket bookings, choose his hotel and the date of travel either for business or pleasure/leisure both in India and abroad. With the retail model still looking good in India, we are looking at making travel accessible to the common man," said Adil Bajirao, senior vice-president, leisure outbound division, Travelport.
The company is offering travel packages starting from Rs 2,000 to an unlimited amount depending on the package size, duration etc.
Besides the kiosks, travel and accommodation data will also be provided to the customer through brochures, directories, info sheets as well as Internet browsing access in some cases. "This will enable the customer to go through the website of the hotel he has chosen for his stay. Flight (most domestic and international airlines), rail and even tourist bus bookings can be made through the kiosks," the official added.
On the other hand, online travel company Cleartrip.com tied up with the Indian Railway and Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) in September, which has helped it increase the traffic on its website and boost its sales.
The company's website has been recording more than 22,000 railway ticket bookings per day and is also inviting new traffic. “We have recorded a 15 per cent increase in air and hotel bookings also in the last one month," said Noel Swain, vice-president (marketing), Cleartrip.com.
Meanwhile SOTC plans to hold a six-day long Great Holiday Bazaar across all its outlets from November 3-8, offering huge discounts between 4 and 20 per cent for various destinations.
For instance, a 10-day tour to Australia which would have cost Rs 1,59,861 will now be available at a discount of Rs 13,000, or 13 per ent, at Rs 1,46,861. A six-day Malaysia and Singapore cost saver tour will be available at a discount of Rs 8,000, or 18 per cent, at Rs 36,991 as against Rs 44,991.
The travel house is offering huge discounts on other offers available for destinations such as Australia, South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya and South East Asia.
Though the current financial crisis would have impacted the travel sector, experts believe the recession is temporary. Interestingly, India has been ranked No 1 in long-term travel growth by World Travel and Trade Council in its global report for 2008.
6 months ago