As travel industry fastens itself for the onset of the first festive season of the new normal, any turbulence looks unlikely, as per industry experts. In fact, revenge travel and work-from-anywhere has made travel aggregators and booking companies hit, and in some cases even cross the pre-pandemic level.
With August having two-to-three consecutive long-weekends and the forthcoming festive season, search queries for travel destinations have witnessed a significant growth. However, travellers are probably keen on planning their venture out to UAE, US, UK and Canada as all the four destinations are seeing a week-on-week growth, as per Manan Bajoria, VP Growth Marketing and Analytics, ixigo.
As per the survey done by Ipsos India UrbanBus, 7 out of 10 urban Indians are comfortable while travelling in the new normal. The most confident amongst the travellers are self-employed and students, at 79% and 73%, respectively.
According to Pallavi Chopra, SVP Brand-Head of Marketing, redBus, “We are witnessing a strong come-back from travellers, especially over the last one month since most of the organisations have begun work from offices across the country. This has led to an uptick in demand for intercity travel, especially towards metros and large cities. In the months of Apr-May-Jun, we witnessed more than 100% business recovery from the pre-pandemic period.”
Moving ahead with the same line of thought, ixigo’s Bajoria added, “Travel confidence and demand is strong this year due to ease in restrictions both for domestic and international travel. However, interest in international travel this year is strong due to pent-up demand, despite the rising fuel prices. At an industry level, flights have seen an 83% recovery in domestic travel and 70% recovery in international travel.”
Asif Riaz, VP Marketing, SOTC Travel, also highlighted how the new normal has favoured well for the company when he said, “According to our internal data, we have seen an uptick in demand by 30-35% month-on-month basis, with positive booking pipelines from India’s metros, mini-metros and cities in tier 1 and 2 segment. Closer to home and easy visa destinations are also driving key demand for near-term travel, along with domestic travel.”
“EaseMyTrip has achieved a huge milestone as it joins the elite club of India’s first 100 unicorns while remaining bootstrapped and consistently profitable despite the pandemic and, thereby, has reflected resilience and strong fundamentals which have earned the trust of stakeholders,” said Rikant Pittie, Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip.com.
While industry specialists revealed that their key customer segment ranges from avid solo travellers to couples, to multigenerational families, to millennials, to pilgrimage-seeking pensioners among other categories, the main focus still remains on tier II, III, and IV towns as they were comparatively impacted less by the pandemic and thus bounced back faster.
As a result, travel-related brands like redBus, EaseMyTrip.com, ixigo and SOTC Travel ensure that they keep targeting netizens through their 360-degree advertising approach by using both, traditional and digital mediums, to their advantage. Apart from advertising on television, out-of-home and over-the-top platforms, social media has also seen a huge uptick following the pandemic and the rise of digital media.
“We will invest adequately in ads, especially on digital platforms, since that is the catchment area for engaging with a majority of the current and future generation of travellers. Influencers have become an important part of our social media outreach as it helps us engage with a large group of people with powerful and engaging content, and the integration of our messages and briefs in their content, helps optimise and maximise recall for the brand across varied audiences,” said Chopra.
Interestingly, Bajoria also revealed that apart from influencers, they have also used their in-house talent pool to churn out good content, “We usually prefer to utilise our employees’ talents to create unique content. Our ‘Covidiots’ video, which had a Bollywood artist’s mimicry as voice-over, was done in-house by one of our employees.”
EaseMyTrip.com also succeeded in garnering extra attention from the public ever since they roped in Varun Sharma and Vijay Raaz as their brand ambassadors and resorted to influencer marketing for their brand-building initiatives, as per Pittie.
“We have seen a gradual shift towards digital media owing to the ease and accessibility of targeting different demographics. Post the pandemic, we experimented with a few leading influencers which turned out to be very successful. We are now expanding our mediums and exploring more avenues as a part of our digital strategy presently,” emphasised Riaz.
As per the India Brand Equity Foundation report, the Indian travel market is projected to rise from an estimated $ 75 billion in 2021 to $ 125 billion by 2028.
Commenting on how they are planning to approach the very first-festive season of the new normal, Pittie said, “Excessive marketing spend is not something we support, as we continue to receive good word-of-mouth recommendations from our users. We believe it's crucial to maintain a good balance of offline and online activities. We oppose spending hefty amounts on unnecessary advertising and rather use it to offer additional values to our customers.”
Chopra concluded by saying, “We undertake both, pan-India brand and sale campaigns, along with focussed regional engagement activities, particularly around important regional festivals and occasions. We localise our communication across markets in India with vernacular content and local nuances.”