Discussions about e-commerce often exclude online the travel industry. However, if market buzz is to be believed, 50 per cent of the travel industry has gone online and it is only growing.
A recent report by ComScore states that about 180 million people visited online travel sites in a month. That is a 27 per cent increase from the year-earlier period. According to the tourism ministry, the current trend and statistics shows India's travel and tourism market is poised to grow at a rate of 7.5 percent in 2015 and by that year, the travel sector would contribute to Rs 8.22 trillion to India's GDP. With online travel sector comprising of more than 50 per cent of the e-commerce industry in India, it is estimated to be in the range of $11-16 billion.
Social media is driving digital conversations in the tourism and hospitality industry. The main drivers of the market are increased digitization, mobile adoption and international expansion.
"From past few years, we have seen a lot of growth in the social platform. Day by day more people are joining in and in future the social platform is going to be a key market driver. Only from social platform, almost 11 million people participate in HolidayIQ on a monthly basis and out of total traffic, 40 per cent are directed through social platforms only,” said Hari Nair, Founder & CEO, Holiday IQ, on the sidelines of IAMAI’s eTailing & Travel Commerce Conference.
Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, Trip Advisor India, said, “We have robust presence across social media. We were one of the first 8 companies to tie up with Facebook where the social media giant opened its platform for advertising and marketing. The major challenge in advertising or marketing on social platform is deciding on the budget allocation. Unlike TV and other mediums, we cannot measure the conversion on social platform.”
Focusing on the challenges of the sector Manoj Agarwal, Co-Founder, Giftxoxo stated, “Social platform is full of discounts and used often for planning things out but there is lack of genuine content required for people’s awareness. And this is the sector where the social media needs to grow. Another challenge which we face is measuring the return on investment.”
Lalit K. Panwar, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said, “We want to make India a travelers’ hub and to do so various steps have been taken by the government. One of these is introducing electronic tourist visas, we have seen many travelers who want to come to India and hence we have eased the visa process. From the time of its launch, we have issued more than 200,000 visas across 85 countries in which alone US holds 41 per cent of them.”
Speaking about the next paradigm of ecommerce and travel sector in India, Tarun Dawda, Venture Investor, Matrix Partners, highlighted that today’s market is full of opportunities and smart entrepreneurs. People today are spotting opportunities quickly and leveraging upon the available investors who are ready to invest in any strategically planned business model.
Market reports suggest that travel is the largest segment which contributes to e-commerce transaction in the country, and if experts are to be believed, in future too, an immense rise in this sector is expected, which would drive the e-commerce industry as a whole.