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India bitten by the travel bug

business Updated: Jan 30, 2011 23:13 IST
Anita Sharan
Anita Sharan
Hindustan Times
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Expedia Inc., the largest online travel company in the world, is formally launching in India with a multimedia ad campaign taglined “Big Daddy of Online Travel”. But it has been here for the last two years, understanding the Indian market.

A syndicated study it conducted to understand the Indian consumer has thrown up an interesting emerging segmentation of online Indian holiday travel consumers.

Dan Lynn, VP and MD, Asia-Pacific region, Expedia, said, “While we expect the overall Indian travel business to be worth $22 billion by next year, the share of online travel business would be around $5 billion and growing rapidly.

The rapid increase in wealth creation, the emergence of low cost airlines and the kind of exposure the internet provides to people is fuelling growth in travel for holidays in India."

Expedia’s consumer survey has thrown up three distinctive travel consumer segments: the recreational traveller (traditional), the experimental traveller (evolving) and the experiential traveller (neo). “Experimental travellers constitute the largest group of online travellers in India, accounting for around 50-60% of online travel consumers. This segment grew 100% last year,” said Lynn.

He described the recreational consumer as more likely a family person, more conservative, budget conscious and most likely to opt for pre-packaged vacations. “This segment would account for 30-40% of the online travel consumer base and is most likely to be in the 36-45 years age group.”

The experimental consumer, on the other hand, is more sophisticated and interested in travelling to different locations.

"These consumers, aged 28-38 years, have the same needs and desires as consumers in Japan, Europe and Australia. They don’t necessarily want to spend lots of money but are keen to try new places. They want to have the freedom to build their own trips and get savings on them. This segment is really the sweet-spot for us,” said Lynn.

The smallest segment, the experiential traveller, in the 28-37 years age band, accounts for just around 5-10% of the online travel base and overlaps with the experimental segment. “You could call them extreme versions of the experimental travellers — they want to get off the beaten track, to be very different from the rest,” said Lynn.

Interestingly, he observed that with the growth in India’s holiday travel, the recreational traveler is getting to be more experimental and the experimental travelers, especially the younger among them are beginning to consider being experiential. “Experiential, however, is more of an attitude.”

The explosion in wealth creation, however, is driving growth in experimental travel the most. “This group is younger, seeing more money earlier. It is hooked onto social networking, more open to the possibilities the world has and less apprehensive about travelling out to new destinations, unlike the more conventional recreational traveller who would play safe on choices.”