Over the last decade, online travel agents (OTAs), such as Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity, to name a few, have become a mainstay for Americans looking to research and book travel. And now, Indians have embraced online travel sites as internet penetration continues to expand. According to Nielsen’s India Online Travel Agent Study, 80 percent of Indians view these sites positively. Even those who hadn’t yet purchased travel with an online travel agent have checked them as part of their research and said that they would consider doing so in the future.
One-third of those surveyed said that they used OTAs to book airline tickets, while 17 percent said that they booked hotels and package tours. Another 14 percent used OTAs for train travel. More Indians used OTAs for their air travel bookings than web sites for airlines. The strongest players in this growing market are Yatra, MakeMyTrip and Travel Guru.
More than two-thirds (77%) of Internet-connected Indians said that they use OTAs to search for airline information, 65 percent for train information and 59 percent for hotel information.
“This is a sign of increasing popularity and awareness amongst consumers of the online booking mode, and though they don’t make bookings currently, it won’t be long before they convert,” said Vatsala Pant, Director, Consumer Research at The Nielsen Company.
So what are the key factors that drive consumers to OTAs? Brand awareness is the most important driver, according to those surveyed, followed by brand personality and price. Having attractive promotional offers and relationships with many airlines were some of the more important contributors to brand equity.
“Having good awareness is a necessity to succeed in the OTA segment. Playing a price game will not take the image of the brand very far,” said Pant.
Meanwhile, those who haven’t yet used OTAs said that the key factors keeping them from booking were that “the rates offered are not the cheapest as claimed by the agents” (33%) and that cancellation/modification procedures were “very tedious” (24%).
The Nielsen India Online Travel Agent Study was carried out in four metro areas and three mini metros and surveyed 842 adults age 20-55.