Bengaluru: Online travel firms are seeing early signs of recovery as many have started receiving bookings for domestic travel, particularly for resorts, hotels and domestic flights, said industry executives.
Companies such as Makemytrip, Cleartrip, Easemytrip, Ixigo and others said they plan to increase their range of deals and discounts for holiday bookings and introduce new credit products for travellers.
The Union government had imposed a nationwide lockdown starting 25 March, which was extended until May. Operations of all domestic and international flights were temporarily suspended during this period, causing much distress to online travel firms who get a large chunk of their revenue from airline ticketing.
Online travel firms said many of them have received travel inquiries and even bookings for resorts and tourist spots in remote locations mostly from consumers who depend on personal vehicles for travel.
“We are seeing early signs of recovery across various segments including hotels and ground transport that comprises of train, buses, and cabs. Our teams have been actively working with airlines, hotels, cab partners and others to implement safety practices and new protocols that will help bring travel back faster in harmony with the new normal," said a Makemytrip spokesperson.
Balu Ramachandran, senior vice president, Cleartrip said both domestic and international travel is expected to revive in three different phases in the coming months. In the first phase, Cleartrip has seen emergency one-way travel trends primarily through personal vehicles, trains and flights.
In the second phase, customers were seen booking shorter trips within their city limits or in nearby destinations in the same state. In the third phase, customers are also expected to travel within "bubbles", said Ramachandran
“Such bubbles include the GCC (gulf) region, Australia, New Zealand that is covid free, or with minimal covid cases. For the (budget) Indian traveler, one such bubble could be Kerala and Karnataka as well. Across all phases, customers will prefer traveling in smaller groups, and with people they trust. Hence we could see a shift away from group packages," added Ramachandran.
Online travel firms also plan to build credit facilities for travellers since many had put their travel plans on hold after the lockdown in March. Ramachandran of Cleartrip saidt given that the recessionary impact of covid on the India economy, consumers and travelers will take some time to recover until there is some confidence that the virus has been contained.
“Impact of Pre-approved travel loans will be similar to that of personal loans as lenders would price them similarly. However one must be cognizant that the reason for muted demand today is not pricing. Instead, customer anxiety is impacting demand…(hence) credit products could become a very important element of stimulating travel demand," added Ramachandran.