Online travel portals are seeing increased bookings for both hotels and flights this Diwali along with a change in destination preferences among consumers. While Cleartrip witnessed a 34% year-on-year increase in flight bookings, Paytm travel has seen an 18% spike in demand for flight tickets. Cleartrip chief revenue officer Amit Taneja said the average flight fare of Rs 4,380 during Diwali 2016 has fallen by only a marginal 3.2% this year and stands at Rs 4,238. ‘’Almost 35% of the bookings this year have happened 60 days in advance as against 24% last year which played some role in bringing down the average flight fares,’’ he said. According to Abhishek Rajan, vice-president, Paytm Travel, ‘’Both domestic and international travel has registered a 10% surge in bookings as compared to the non-festive months.’’ He said that while destinations like Khajuraho, Visakhapatnam, Bikaner, Puducherry and Porbandar have registered strong traction domestically, in international travel, unconventional destinations like Tomsk in Russia, Porto in Portugal, Cairo in Egypt and Zagreb in Croatia have emerged as popular tourist stops.
The other travel start-ups like Goomo and Travkart have seen flight bookings increase by 24% and 20%, respectively. Online hotel aggregator OYO’s data shows a 40% rise in hotel bookings, while Cleartrip has seen a 90% increase, year-on-year, this Diwali. ‘’An interesting trend this year is that 77% of our bookings this year are in the 1-3 days category and 55% of the bookings are within 1-2 days. People are not taking any extra days off which is a change. However, there is not much change in the origin of the bookings or the domestic travel destinations with the top international destinations being Singapore, Dubai, Bali and Hong Kong,” said Taneja from Cleartrip.
Most of them are unanimous that the hotel booking volume is within the budget hotel category with 10-15% of them being in the Rs 2,500-7,500 range. ‘’People are not keen to spend on luxury stays especially after the levy of 28% goods and services tax on rooms with per day tariffs of above Rs 7,500. We have see an overall dip of around 15% in the premium segment, especially in Rajasthan, where most of the luxury properties are present. Last year they were all sold out by this time but in 2017 we are still trying to fill them,’’ said Manheer Singh Sethi, co-founder, Travkart.
Cleartrip has seen about 45% bookings coming from hotels priced at `3,000-5,000 a night, while 90-95% of MakeMyTrip users prefer budget and mid-range hotels. ‘’There is still a few more days to go and we can see a sudden spike during the week,’’ said Sonia Mehta, chief business officer, Goomo. According to a report by Kalagato, MakeMyTrip controls 31% of the online travel market, while Cleartrip and Yatra have 9.6% and 7.3% of the market share, respectively.
Ondrila S Sarkar