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Google travel trend reports surge in online bookings for branded budget hotels

Indian travelers show preference for niche destinations overseas, like Seychelles, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Russia and Norway

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | March 28, 2016

google-india-logoGoogle India has recently unveiled its Travel Trend Report, based on the search trends for domestic and international travel. The report says that Indian users tended to look for budget hotels in their search queries.

While more than 300 million Indians are online, only 20 per cent of the total hotel inventory is available online. Even so, search trends show that branded budget hotel chains were driving the growth of online bookings in India. The query for branded budget hotels have grown by 179 per cent year on year (YoY), compared to a mere 36 per cent growth in queries for generic budget hotels. The overall queries for “accommodations” have grown by 37 per cent YoY.

Speaking of the travel industry trends, Vikas Agnihotri, Director Sales, Google India, said, “Newer players in the segment have energized the travel vertical by unlocking a brand new inventory online. They have been quick to capitalize on the online demand with aggressive advertising spends in building their brands, which is leading to overall category growth for the Industry.”

“We expect this segment to continue to see massive growth with leisure travel expected to pick up in the coming summer holiday season,” Agnihotri said, adding, “As part of our own efforts to boost the sector, we’re sponsoring Great Indian Travel Festival which is currently live - to provide users a central destination for all the great holiday deals that are available online for the upcoming holiday season.”

A close analysis reveals a strong preference for distinct brands in the queries. Currently, queries for budget hotels account for 35 per cent of all the queries for accommodation. Almost 47 per cent of the search queries are for brands that provide budget hotel inventory online.

The top destinations searched for the holiday season from March to June 2015, were Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). Most of these States attract business, or work related travelers. This year's growth driver, though, is likely to be leisure destinations, because of all the destinations searched on Google, 30 per cent are for leisure travel.

The increasing demand has, in effect, prompted industry players to invest in brand positioning as budget hotel providers. According to an industry forecast, the inventory in the budget hotel space is expected to grow, making provision for an additional 10,000 rooms by both new and existing players.

Outbound data (international) compiled on the basis of Google search queries between January and September 2015, showed that 25 per cent of search queries were for international air tickets, growing by 43 per cent year on year. Only 18 per cent of search queries were for international accommodation, growing at 25 per cent YoY and 22 per cent of search queries were for international holidays, growing at 30 per cent YoY.

The United Arab Emirates, the United States and Thailand were the top most searched international destinations, with a healthy growth rate of over 35 per cent YoY. The top ten most searched international countries in 2015 (January – September 2015) include the UAE, the United States, Thailand, United Kingdom, Singapore, France, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Italy.

Search queries also reveal that Indian travelers had developed a preference for niche travel destinations. The list of fastest growing destinations in the top 50 searched international countries in 2015 (January – September 2015) include Seychelles, growing at 112 per cent YoY, Hungary -growing at 88 per cent YoY, the Czech Republic - growing at 75 per cent YoY and Russia - growing at 65 per cent YoY. Other hotly searched destinations by Indians in 2015 were Greece, growing at 57 per cent, Norway, growing at 57 per cent; Vietnam, growing at 56 per cent, Sri Lanka, growing at 53 per cent, Saudi Arabia, growing at 53 per cent and Austria, growing at 51 per cent.

Metros account for 80 per cent of the top ten searched international destination packages on Google search. The search for international holiday destinations originated in cities like Delhi and the NCR, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai.

In the holiday season, some of the most searched international destinations were Thailand, the US, the UAE, Singapore, the Maldives, the UK, Mauritius and Malaysia, during March and June 2015. Couples packages for honeymoon, are the fastest growing packages, growing by more than 42 per cent YoY, followed by vacation packages, growing at 35 per cent YoY. Although a small category, adventure packages are showing a healthy growth, with search queries growing by more than 22 per cent YoY.

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