The recent surveys and research are suggesting that Indian women travellers have started traveling on their own. Solo travel is the most recent phenomena happening in the Indian travel sector. Large parts of India have traditionally been matriarchal societies with the women calling the shots on any major decision. The same trend percolates today into vacation planning and the decisions which a family makes regarding location, property & price.
Make My Trip conducted a survey recently which suggests solo travel is picking up in India. An encouraging proportion of 44 per cent of women leisure-travelers in India have travelled alone. India is also the preferred destination for first-time solo travelers possibly due to comfort and cultural alignment. 70 per cent of solo-women travelers had so far traveled only within India, while 10 per cent had only travelled solo overseas and 20 per cent had covered both.
Industry wide, women travellers in India have more than doubled over the last 12 months. According to Mohit Gupta, Chief Business Officer- Holidays, Make My Trip, “In the past few years we have seen queries and bookings from women travellers increase significantly. Not only are women decision-makers when it comes to a holiday destination preference but a lot of them have taken the purchase decision in their hands.”
Niloufer Venkatraman, Editor, National Geographic Traveler India said, “I have been hearing a lot of anecdotes and getting a lot more letters from women who are travelling more, whether alone or with friends and family. Whenever I write an editorial that talk about travelling with my family, which includes my husband and eight-year-old daughter, I get great feedback about how it has inspired women who thought they couldn’t travel once they have children.” She further added , “Trends like going on challenging treks, long cycling trips, and weekend road trips are picking up. A substantial number of our regular contributors are also women who travel solo. The magazine’s second anniversary issue, out next month (July issue), has a special focus on journeys that involve a return to one's roots, and an exploration of the place and culture that we come from. Among other things this issue features travelogues by women travellers, travelling alone, or sharing their heritage with their children.”
Make My Trip has launched various women special packages and offerings in the quest to explore the new gang of customers for the Indian Tourism Industry. Officials from Make My Trip reported that the women special packages for Kashmir and Bhutan were sold like hot cakes.
Sharat Dhall, President, Yatra.com mentioned, “Yes, the number of women travellers in India have increased. The trend is still picking up and numbers are not magnanimous but the industry is moving towards creating a new category of consumers which is very encouraging.” Yatra has also identified the women groups who have started cropping up and are very frequently and they are offering customized packages for such groups.
Online hotel accommodation portal Stayzilla.com confirmed the trend as the portal earned new members. Stayzilla’s CEO & Founder Yogendra Vasupal said,” Our numbers indicate the same trend. Bookings from women consumers have increased by 100 per cent over the last 12 months. Women travelers today contribute approximately 13 per cent to our overall bookings.”
Venkatraman further added, “Part of the reason for the surge in women travelers has been the number of groups that are now organising trips for women specifically. It gives more women the confidence to travel, knowing that they will be with a group of others much like them, with a passion for travel.” Women on Wanderlust, (WOW club) are the cherishing destination for woman travellers on Facebook. The club has about two lakh engaged woman travelers on Facebook. The portal focuses on providing such solution for women who want to travel safe and solo, along with a group of like-minded women.
Safety No Issue
A sad impression created in the international market about safety of women travelers on the Indian soil is deeply challenged by the survey results. When 4000 women travelers were quizzed by Make My Trip on whether they feel safer travelling in India or overseas, an overwhelming 63 per cent responded, “It depends on the destination and not the country.” On the other hand, 21 per cent showcased preference to travel overseas citing safety concerns.
A good attempt made by the local agents trying to identify the woman-friendly hotels has resulted in encouraging number of woman travelers in India.In the offline world, a lot of hotels are promoting themselves as being “pregnancy friendly”/ “women friendly”. This information is also passed on to the other parts of the ecosystem such as the travel agents for them to convert women prospects into customers. Dhall accepted that safety is a concern as he said, “Safety concerns in the minds of women consumers has had adverse impact, but it is marketers responsibility to build confidence in the minds of consumers.”
Age No Bar
The most remarkable of all the reasons to invest in this segment of audience is that the number of women travellers, who have crossed their retirement age i.e. 60 , has shown a steady increase in the last two years. This generation of old consumers have shown a change in taste of tours, they also want to visit places which are not pilgrimage for them. The concept of leisure travel can be best consumed by this age group in India.
Speaking about it, Vasupal said, “Why should a marketer focus on women travelers? Because women certainly respond better to advertisements with a strong & clear value proposition which is both relevant & communicated in a visually appealing way. Our data backs this up – our e-mailers & Facebook campaigns receive a 75 per cent higher response rate when targeting the women segment.”