The footloose Indian sure has his eyes set on the Asia-Pacific region with the circuit recording a traffic of 6.7 million from India annually. And, tech-city Bengaluru could aspire to be a key player in the region as innovations in travel space and technology startups are turning out to be the gamechangers in the tourism sector.
It is time for popular tourism destinations, brands and tour operators to accept the changing preferences of travellers and the increasing use of technology in travel space was the general view at the technology forum held as part of the 38th edition of the Pacific Asia Travel Association Travel Mart that ended on September 8. The event, which tracked the trends in travel space, also saw 30 investors signing MoUs with the Karnataka government for projects worth Rs.1,800 crore.
“Karnataka has seen tourist arrivals grow by more than 300 per cent, from a mere 24 million 10 years ago to 85 million today,” said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, at the inauguration ceremony. “The state has two world heritage sites in Hampi and Pattadakal and 319 tourist destinations, including heritage, pilgrimage and adventure travel hot spots.”
“Indian startups in technology are the third biggest in the world with 12,340 new ones coming up in 2014 and it is growing at a fast pace,” said Mohandas Pai, chairman of Karnataka Tourism Vision Group. “Bengaluru has the world’s second largest technology sector after the United States. Travel has gone online—from booking, ticketing, hotel reservations to finding restaurants and apartments—with technology penetrating the tourism sector. The traditional tour and travel operators are forced to get tech-savvy.”
Travel technology startups like OYO Rooms, Triip.me, tripadvisor and Sonata Software have many takers. At least 40 per cent of travel bookings are made online and the segment is most likely to take away 50 per cent of the market share in the next four years, according to a report by Phocuswright, a consultancy firm.
OYO Rooms, an Indian online startup company on the lines of Airbnb, a website for people to list, find and rent lodging, is aiming at the 9 per cent market share of the room category. “Consumers are looking for predictable experiences at the right price. We are like Uber for hotel rooms,” says Rakesh Agarwal, chief executive officer, OYO Rooms. A Vietnam-based startup, TRiip.me connects local communities with travellers to provide a 'hometown' experience.
During the event, Sonata Software showcased its 'Rezopia', an award-winning cloud-based travel technology platform that helps travel companies to manage reservations, contracts, operations and distribution management on a single platform, to scale up revenues, optimise costs and enhance customer experience with next-generation travel technology. Tripadvisor, on the other hand, shared its plans to extend its instant booking feature to customers in Asian countries. Open Destinations, specialist in travel technology, put up the 'Travel Studio', a travel reservation software to integrate low-cost airlines and hotel bookings for building transparency.
The forum predicted that India would be the next big place for innovative travel technology. The e-commerce boom is encouraging as the market size of $3 billion in 2014 is expected to grow to $15 billion by 2016. Almost 55 per cent of the global IT sourcing is with India and 350 million internet users and 159 million mobile users are fuelling the technology growth, which has attracted $10 billion-worth venture capital money into India.