We have just come back from two exciting days of learning new things and meeting interesting people at the eTailing and Travel Commerce Conference. Renowned industry leaders shared their experiences of building their businesses, experts from different domains discussed the hottest trends and some new innovative startups also came into light. It surely was a great event for all travel marketers and industry analysts to discuss key challenges our industry faces.
Here is an overview of the major points that emerged:
1. Experiential tours and P2P services will grow
According to Dr. Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, we will see a strong growth in the number of people looking for bespoke tours. Technology will help fuel the growth and give more opportunities to smaller players. P2P services like Airbnb are expected to grow as well.
Businesses catering to defined niche like student travellers or solo female travellers will have a lot of scope in the future. A representative of a major OTA emphasised that brands like them won’t consider offering services for a specific group. It isn’t possible at their scale and the segment can be better served by small businesses specifically doing the same, so that is a space new players can explore.
2. Weak players will fade away
Mr. G. Shankaran Nair, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Servion Global Solutions said that the model on which ecommerce companies are operating isn’t a sustainable one. Price is the only differentiating factor between many of them. Competing in a rapidly evolving market only on the basis of price won’t work for long and will lead to a shakedown wiping out the weak players from the market.
3. Selling packages isn’t the best idea
Of course it will be a different story for a businesses like TravelTriangle or WeAreHolidays that specialise in selling packages but the major OTAs aren’t keen to do the same. According to them, it is better to simplify the booking process and let the customer take care of things. Screen sizes and attention spans are going down and it might not be a very good idea to present a complicated itinerary.
4. Scalable technology is necessary for global expansion
Expedia is present across a dozen of countries and according to Mr. Madhur Arora, Head of e-Commerce Business, India and Thailand, Expedia manages to serve all the countries from one location. Having a scalable product allows the brand to quickly start operating in new market rather than having to start fresh.
5. ROI on Social Media is a tough nut to crack
During a discussion about how social media drives digital conversations in the hospitality industry, Mr. Hari Nair, Founder & CEO, HolidayIQ suggested that it is best to use social media to inspire people to travel. The inspiration might not have an immediate impact but it will eventually turn into a conversion for the brand. Brands aren’t able to see any significant return on their social media efforts because there is a huge gap between the time a brand takes to inspire a traveller and the time when he or she actually books with them. It is possible that a booking is coming through social media but the credit is going to another channel.
The eTailing and Travel Commerce Conference was surely a great experience for us. Did you attend the event? We would love to hear your feedback.
Update: You can see pictures from the event on TravHQ Facebook page