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Long weekend bonanza: OTAs, Travel Industry gear up to brace the rush, open box of offers to attract tourists!

Long Weekends Travel Offers: MakeMyTrip has launched a #NoBetterTimeCampaign that’s loaded with travel deals.

Long weekends, travel offers, makemytrip, ixigo, booking.com
Long Weekends: 'The market will see a jump of more than 50% in bookings for these long weekends of Raksha Bandhan, Independence Day and Janmashtami.' (mages: Pixabay)

Long weekends in August: It is raining long weekend holidays this monsoon season! August has three long weekend holidays on account of festivals viz., Muharram, Raksha Bandhan, Independence Day and Janmashtami. Long weekend bonanza will continue in 2022 during Dussehra, Diwali, Guru Nanak Birthday and New Year holidays. These long weekends are an opportunity for tired souls to take a break and break free. It is also the time which tests both Offline and Online Travel Agencies and triggers them to up their game. They need to be well-prepared to handle the rush during long weekends.

Aloke Bajpai, Group CEO & Co-founder, ixigo said that they are witnessing a positive pickup in demand for the upcoming long weekend. “This is one of the longest weekends of the year, so travelers want to make the most of it by planning short getaways in advance,” he said.

Booking.com is also seeing a surge in demand for travel ahead of the many public holidays coming up in August. Ritu Mehrotra, Regional Commercial Director APAC at Booking.com told Financialexpress.com that relaxed travel restrictions and control in the pandemic situation has elevated travelers’ confidence, who are using this opportunity to travel either to near-by destinations or long-haul domestic and international destinations.

For MakeMyTrip as well, the long-weekend cheer is back, and many are eagerly waiting to head-out to make the most of this upcoming long-weekend. Vipul Prakash, COO at MakeMyTrip said, “Travel sentiment for this period is highly positive – with bookings for the upcoming long-weekend surpassing bookings made during the long-weekend around Good Friday, this year.”

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Occupancy rates have reached 95% at Kings Hotel & Resort, said Shreyas Kudalkar, spokesperson. “Since a month ago, we have been receiving requests from travelers for long weekends. People now favour visiting hill towns like Lonavala, Karnala, Goa, and Alibaug, among others. We are streamlining the process to deal with these surges by collecting the booking fee in advance and diligently following up with the clients.”

Shreerang Godbole, SVP – Product & Chief Service Officer, OYO said, “Travel isn’t about heading out on a vacation once a year anymore. Or only during the festive holiday season. It is much more flexible today than it ever was, all thanks to the shift in trends brought about by flexibility at the workplace and an increased aspiration to take shorter trips on the go. So far, 2022 has been promising for the travel and hospitality industry owing to higher consumer confidence to travel, especially this summer season. Even during the typically lean monsoon season, Indian travellers expressed high travel intent for intercity roadtrips for about 1 – 3 days. The yearning for travel still runs strong across the country. As Raksha Bandhan and Independence Day fall during the same week, it makes for a perfect excuse to getaway with your loved ones.”

OTAs and other stakeholders in the travel and hospitality industry are all geared up. When asked about the type of travel and favorite destinations among Indian travellers ixigo’s Bajpai said, “We are seeing a mix of leisure travel, staycations and people traveling to their hometowns for the long break. Beach destinations like Goa have seen more than 100% increase in flight search queries. Coorg, Kerala and Pondicheryy are amongst the top favourite destinations searched by travellers this monsoon. The long weekend has also seen a rise in search demand for popular short-haul international destinations like Maldives, Bali, Bangkok & Dubai.”

Booking.com’s Ritu Mehrotra quoted their recently released APAC Travel Confidence Index Research, according to which 78% of Indian travellers consider leisure travel as important while keeping their overall health and safety in mind. “Booking trend shows that people are utilizing these holidays for getaways to unwind and relax with leisurely destinations like Lonavala, Jaipur, Udaipur, Puducherry, and Goa being some of the most booked destinations for the month of August. Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia are some of the preferred international destinations over the long weekends.”

The list of MakeMyTrip’s Vipul Prakash has Goa, Udaipur, Jaipur, Pondicherry, Lonavala, Wayanad, Ooty and Rishikesh as some of the most booked destinations. “On the international front, people are opting for short-haul travel to Singapore, Thailand and Dubai. Close on the heels are Bali, Istanbul and London – that are seeing a spike in bookings for the said period. Within the hotels segment, we are noticing that people are opting for premium and super luxury stays, indicating that people are willing to spend more on their stays.”

“Overall, between 11th – 15th August, we are seeing the highest demand for hotels in Goa, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Puri. At a city level, Delhiites and Mumbaikars are heading to the hills of Shimla and Mahabaleshwar respectively during the upcoming holiday. In Bangalore, Ooty is a top favorite destination, whereas, Vijayawada is the most destination in Hyderabad,” OYO’s Godbole told Financialexpress.com.

When asked about the reason behind this upbeat mood in the travel segment, Booking.com’s Ritu Mehrotra said, “While travel optimism remains strong, the freedom to change plans is still vital. We understand the importance of flexibility for travellers to update and cancel bookings from anywhere, particularly at this time of uncertainty and offer Flexible-1 Day policy that allows travellers to cancel for free up till one day before check-in. It has played a key role in realizing travellers’ dreams in the volatile travel environment.”

OTAs have opened their boxes of deals and travelers are spoilt for choices! Booking.com is offering Getaway Deals for travellers to use when booking their next trip. Discounts start at a minimum of 15% and are valid for stays till September 30, 2022. “In addition, Booking.com is bringing the great value of its Genius program to even more customers by giving all account holders access to the program’s Level 1 benefits, with no minimum number of previous bookings to qualify, including access to exclusive 10% discounts at hundreds of thousands of participating properties around the world. All travellers have to do is download the Booking.com app, log in and look for the Genius logo to identify associated benefits, discounts and perks,” Mehrotra informed.

MakeMyTrip has launched a #NoBetterTimeCampaign that’s loaded with travel deals that offer up to 30% off on homestays, up to 25% on domestic hotels, up to 20% on domestic flights and about INR 15,000 off on international flights.

To understand this long weekend trend and understand it from the perspective of both travelers and industry, Financialexpress.com got in touch with Himank Tripathi, Industry veteran with nearly 20 years of experience across hospitality, consumer tech and start-up landscape who highlighted that the long weekend is the new trend that is fueling massive growth in the market.

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“Furthermore, I would term these long weekends as “Mini-cations” that travelers are exploring a lot. The market will see a jump of more than 50% in bookings for these long weekends of Raksha Bandhan, Independence Day and Janmashtami. These weekends are also the perfect opportunity for everyone to take a break as it is almost the middle of the year when they must plan a trip with their loved ones. Domestic destinations such as Kashmir, Goa, Jaipur, Leh-Ladakh, Kerala, Assam, and Andaman are the top preferences for leisure travel for these long weekends with more than 50% jump and Dubai, Indonesia, Mauritius, Maldives and Singapore are the favourite international destinations with more than 40% jump when compared to last year,” Tripathi explained.

Tripathi signed off saying that travelers are also not shying away from exploring adventurous outings such as paragliding, trekking and safaris (Sasan Gir, Ranthambore) this weekend as they are opting for such packages more than ever. “Almost every travel and hospitality brand is launching special offers to capitalize on this weekend and this creates a win-win situation for everyone including the travelers who were stuck indoors for nearly two years due to the pandemic,”

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