Google anticipates a big-ticket surge in online hotel booking

If the basic definition of e-commerce has to be taken into the account – anykind of internet enabled buying and selling – then some of the verticals of the Indian travel and tourism space have already made a big impact. In fact, there are observers in the market who will vouch that in the real sense, India’s e-commerce story began with online air ticket sales and then expanded further when the railways also joined the bandwagon big time. Nothing surprising, a recent report claims that India’s travel business has a hefty share of over 60 percent of the total online transactions in the country.

Google-anticipates-a-big-ticket-surge-in-online-hotel-booking_1-300x300The hotel industry, however, has not exactly been part of this big online drive. Another estimate puts the total volume of online hotel booking in the country at 11 percent, with 76 percent of hotel rooms directly booked with the hotel units and another 13 percent by the travel agents. However, global IT giant Google has now come out with a survey which projects a staggering growth in online hotel booking in the country in the coming years. “Online hotel booking in India is just at the cusp of a major take off which going ahead may redefine the hotel booking patterns,” Vikas Agnihotri, Industry Director, Google India told TourismFirst.

Google’s assumptions are based on a survey which it undertook in a dozen Indian cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mysore, Cochin, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Chandigarh and Bhubaneshwar- trying to gauge the mood of the Indian customers vis-à-vis their changing  preference for hotel booking pattern. With response from 3716 participants in India’s leading metro, tier I and II centers, the Google report is now projecting  online hotel booking to take a more formidable shape in the years to come. “Consumer confidence to do online hotel bookings is on the rise in India with an estimated 8.4 million Indians likely to book hotels online by 2016. The number had stood at 3.5 million in 2014. Our estimates suggest that the online hotel booking industry will be worth $1.8 billion by the end of the next year from the present level of $ 0.8 billion,” Agnihotri added.

One of the cornerstones of Google India’s projections is the projected staggering jump in internet usage volume in the next five years which will also act as that critical catalyst pushing the online businesses to the next level. According to the report, the number of internet users in the country will jump from the present base of 300 million to 650 million by 2020. And much on the expected lines, this will also send online transactions to a skyrocketing trajectory – from 40 million in 2014 to 100 million in 2016 and a further 250 million by 2020. Google India expects this decisive churning in the online space will also drive online hotel booking in a major way.

The report also points at the existing statistical gaps in the online hotel booking segment which will be eventually filled as internet wave picks up more momentum in the country. For instance, today only 29 percent of internet users book hotels online. And even as it is generally believed that the young generation is more in sync with online applications, in India it is the customers in the age group of 35-44 who are most savvy when it comes to booking hotels online. The report further predicts smartphones to become the preferred device for accessing internet in India and, therefore, it will also drive the surge in online hotel bookings. “ On Google search, hotel searches from mobile saw 30 times growth from 2011 to 2014. This was validated in the offline research, where over 27 percent respondents said they use mobile phones to search and book hotels on the internet and over 56 percent users who book hotels online have a travel app installed,” the report underlines.

By Ritwik Sinha

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