Most hotels in the country are seeing at least 15-20% increase in online bookings as compared to the previous year.
Executive vice-president of The Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, Rattan Keswani, says, “Just as an example, only at The Oberoi, Mumbai, we could be generating upwards of 10,000 room nights a year, up from 8,250-8,500 room nights just one and a half to two years ago. That’s a lot of business to be coming in already. It’s a 20% increase from just one sellable distribution module.”
The growth is evident in the metros. Intercontinental The Grand vice-president and general manager Heiner Werdeling adds, “There are more visitors from Europe, UK and North America, and from Hong Kong and Singapore in Asia. They normally book online for the weekends through the global distribution system (GDS). These are customers who are not very price sensitive but are more concerned about the brand of the hotel and the quality of service. Online booking, although slightly more expensive, addresses all the concerns they have. About 15% of our total bookings would be from online modules by the next year.”
At present, it’s the leisure travellers who make the most bookings online. “With aggressive marketing of our websites not only to our foreign markets, but to the domestic market as well, the industry is expecting this to increase over time,” says ITC WelcomGroup VP (sales and marketing) B Hariharan.
Although India is increasingly attractive to foreign tourists, it’s the explosive growth in the domestic market that is likely to drive growth in online bookings. Indians are expected to make about Rs 2 crore worth of online hotel bookings in 2005-06 according to research conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
Out of all the online shoppers, 20% made hotel bookings. The number is likely to go up to 31% by the next year. Hotels located in Mumbai and Delhi accounted for 47% of all online booking.