1. What are the emerging trends with respect to online travel market in India in 2016?
The Indian Tourism Industry has evolved drastically over the last decade. These days everyone is online and we foresee phenomenal adoptions by businesses in technology to transform themselves in the sector. Cloud computing is definitely going to be a natural evolution in the industry with cloud servers now being physically located in the country.
Additionally, Social Media Marketing has also seen a lot of interest by businesses. There is a special focus on this segment as social media is now considered the best way to reach out to the public. Companies are conversing, taking suggestions, running campaigns dedicated to social media in order to develop a rapport with the audience and widen their reach.
Lastly, Mobile innovation is always a key aspect. Enterprises are continuously looking at innovative ways of engaging with people through their personal devices. Mobile has already become the preferred choice of the customers to access the online travel services and will dominate the discovery and transaction space in 2016. It provides a medium for online travel companies to build services to engage with customers while they are on travel and build innovative services, which were not possible earlier.
Apart from this, we will also see emergence of early stage IoT based services for travel, especially for traveller security and personalization of services.
2. What issues are CIOs within this sector most keen on addressing?
Creation of an integrated technology platform that allows us to provide value to a user in every step of their journey is the uber goal. Online travel is not convenient booking and ticketing anymore and is moving towards providing a great travel experience, which requires solving problems in each and every step of the travel experience.
The core problem is that technology readiness of players who provide these services is not very high and lack of standardization makes integration a tough job. For example, hotels don’t have standard and centralized way to manage their inventory and pricing, which may lead to broken experience for the users.
3. How IT is helping accelerate innovation in the online travel space?
IT like in any organization has been a very big contributor to our business. Technology in Yatra has been integral to our system and has been a useful medium across all segments- basic processing of transactions, helping customers interact with the organization, managing remote offices, front end website to name a few. IT has played a strategic role in our business expansion as it has helped develop tools to collect, store, manage, secure and distribute data effectively. Over the years, Yatra has been transforming itself from an IT enabled online travel services company to a travel technology company and today technology is at the front and center of what we are and what we do. The technology led innovation has accelerated over the years transforming the way business is done and opening new vistas that were not available earlier.
4. What are your expectations from the government to give a boost to the online travel market in 2016?
Over the years, the role of the Government in tourism development has been redefined from that of a regulator to that of a catalyst. While the government is showing a renewed focus on the travel industry, there are still some loopholes that need to be addressed. One, infrastructure definitely needs a lot of attention. Two, the bandwidth needs to be streamlined in order for us to effortlessly communicate with the people. And the payment gateways for the e commerce sites needs attention. But we are expecting the government to look into the matter and show us a good solution.