The constantly evolving technology has effected a change in almost every sector of business and the disruption in the travel sector has also been phenomenal.
Tech innovations in travel are increasing customer expectations and influencing their behaviours.
The result is phenomenal. Travel tech majors like MakeMyTrip now rules the market in online space.IRCTC, the government’s rail booking site, clocks nearly 20 per cent of internet traffic in India and accounts for more than 400,000 ticket bookings a day.
RedBus, the online bus-ticket booking site, has made it to ‘the 50 most innovative companies in the world’ list. It is the fastest growing company in India with a CAGR of 4,800 per cent till 2010.
To gain insight into the ways technology will create more entrepreneurs in the Indian travel industry, Entrepreneur India got in touch with Abhishek Rajan, Vice-president, Paytm. With more than 85% of its train ticket bookings coming from the app, Paytm has recently acquired a significant share of India’s online travel market.
According to Rajan, the next big opportunity for entrepreneurs will come from mobile-first users in Tier-II and Tier-III cities and the travel industry is gearing up to capture this massive untapped market. “Five years from now, travel booking would be made via smart bots that will seamlessly interact with humans and personalize the itinerary using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning,” he envisaged.
Seamless Travelling through Augmented Reality
Rajan has been instrumental in setting up and scaling Paytm’s travel business that includes categories like flights, trains and bus ticketing. He leads a 150-strong team out of Paytm’s Bengaluru office, driving innovation in this strategic and fast-growing business vertical.
“With the recent popularity of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, which offer immersive life-like audio-visual experience, innovations will play a substantial role in travel planning process. Entrepreneurs should gainful usage of AR and VR to make the planning process much more seamless, interactive, and simple,” informed the industry expert.
Focus of Good Product Experience
Rajan has previously helmed product management for Flipkart and led the mobile strategy for Myntra. With his years of experience he strongly believes that the player with the most seamless and convenient product experience will be at a greater advantage in a market as competitive as India.
“Hence, the focus should be on only one thing — building great product experiences that every customer will love. Since the first wave of tech start-ups have triggered a shift in consumer behaviour towards mobile, I believe the next wave should pay particular attention on leveraging various technological advantages a mobile-first platform offers to deliver a more personalized experience to every traveller,” he opined.
Big Data and Artificial Intelligent – the way ahead
Rajan maintained that Big Data and Artificial Intelligence have the potential of disrupting the online space of travel. “AI creates highly-customised offers based on customers’ requirements and predilections. AI and Big Data analysis assists travel companies in decision making and overcoming major obstacles, including those posed by inclement weather conditions,” he shared.
How do the Young and Old Travel Now
He said digitization had disrupted Indians’ travel habits, changing the outlook and approach of elderly travellers as well.
“Today opportunities for tech-based travel businesses are endless as Indians of all age groups prefer booking travel tickets on their smart phones as compared to queuing up in front of their local travel service providers’ offices. This has been possible owing to strong mobile internet penetration in non-metros, coupled with product disruptions like insurance against bus ticket cancellation, zero cancellation processing fee on flight tickets, instant refunds and super quick train booking from our end,” he shared.
Women Emerging as Important Stakeholders
Rajan maintained that for leisure travel, traditionally it has been the head of family who is responsible for making the travel arrangements, which reflects in the higher proportion of bookings being made by men. The business travel segment, too, is currently dominated by men.
“However, with empowerment and economic independence the share of women customers is on the rise. Travel ventures run by women entrepreneurs are also burgeoning to tap this market,” he revealed.
Travel Customized through Tech
“As we analyse the technological expansion impacting the travel sector, it overwhelms us. However, as we’ve gotten used to digitalization in other aspects and are making most of the amazing services provided, the future of travel too would be customized to our personal needs and choices. Tech based travel businesses have reasons to be bullish,” signed off Rajan.