Travel bookings have spiked across the country after a dismal 2020.Bookings have increased by double digits for key service providers in August, with the promise of more in the upcoming festive season.
Travel bookings have spiked across the country after a dismal 2020. Bookings have increased by double digits for key service providers in August, with the promise of more in the upcoming festive season. The reasons: a considerable drop in active cases of Covid-19, strong pent-up demand, increased acceptance of vaccines and gradual easing of restrictions.
Industry insiders said booking windows are getting longer. The recovery has been across the board, they said, with flights, trains and buses seeing an uptick.
Due to the improved sentiment, travelers have been searching for and booking tickets a month in advance, said Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer at travel portal MakeMyTrip.
“Data on MakeMyTrip indicates that there is a 30% increase in forward bookings for flights and hotels,” Prakash said. “Travel for business is now seeing a consistent increase in bookings as well.” He said hotel bookings by corporate travelers increased by 20-25% in August.
Goa, Kolkata, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar and Guwahati saw 40% growth in flight bookings last month. Maldives scored among overseas destinations, with a 150% growth in searches and bookings in August compared to the previous month, he added.
Demand for ‘Family Bonding Vacations’
Leisure bookings surged over 100% month on month for Thomas Cook India, said Rajeev Kale, its president and country head – Holidays, MICE and Visas.
MICE is an acronym for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.
Indians typically travel home to celebrate festivals, but this year pent-up demand is driving demand for ‘family bonding vacations’, he said.
“The upcoming festive season is seeing encouraging interest with demand upwards of 40% versus last year. Domestic destinations like Kashmir, Goa and the Andamans are witnessing a strong uptick… equally the India cruise opportunity. We have already booked over 500 customers for domestic cruises,” Kale added.
Some are even booking well in advance for New Year holidays.
EaseMyTrip has seen a 400% increase in forward bookings for December during July 1 to August 15, compared to last year, said chief executive Nishant Pitti.
Flight bookings for routes such as Mumbai-Kolkata, Delhi-Goa and Hyderabad-Tirupati went up by 106%, 149%, and 110%, respectively, on August 24 compared to the previous month on the platform.
“With the growth in leisure travel, we are expecting a huge uptick in demand for the coming month as well. We have also witnessed an increase in bookings for business class tickets, which signifies that travelers are now spending more on travel. Leisure destinations such as Goa, Jaipur, Leh, and Srinagar have also recorded a huge growth in passenger volumes flying out of metro cities,” Pitti said.
Non-metro to metro travel is also bouncing back due to the relaxation of restrictions by several states and normalization of activities, As a result, bookings from cities like Varanasi, Darbhanga, Patna, and Gorakhpur to the metros have seen a jump of 30-35% in the last one month on travel site ixigo, said co-founder Rajnish Kumar.
Kumar said demand for travel in September and October is also encouraging in all three segments — flights, trains and buses.
“Bookings for some popular routes towards the end of August for festive travel have seen an average month-on-month increase of 45% for trains, 71% for buses and 20% for flights,” he added.
For Cleartrip, August was the best month in terms of booking volumes since the second Covid-19 wave.
“Domestic volumes were 5X of May levels,” said Prahlad Krishnamurthi, chief business officer at Cleartrip. “Sectors between Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi dominate the top booked domestic flight routes. Goa remains the top preferred leisure destination,” he added.
Travel industry insiders say the advance purchase window is also increasing as airlines are offering discounts on tickets for dates, which are beyond the deadline of fare regulation. “On some routes, fares are lower by around 60%, if you choose to book 30 days in advance,” said Kumar from ixigo.
Hotel chain Accor has seen a ‘notable’ increase in bookings because of the festive season and people’s desire to visit friends and family, said Kerrie Hannaford, vice president of Accor for India and South Asia. “There is also a strong demand for leisure destinations such as Udaipur, Jaipur and Goa,” she added.
The push for forward bookings for hotels has also been due to weddings slated for later this year.
A spokesperson for ITC Hotels said its Welcomhotel properties in Mussoorie, Chail, Shimla and Pahalgam have witnessed increased footfalls, and hotels such as the ITC Grand Bharat in Gurugram have received interest as a wedding destination.
The year-end looks ‘quite packed’, the spokesperson added.