Online bookings become popular with Indian travellers: Nielsen

Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are becoming the next big thing for Indians' various travel related bookings according to an India Online Travel Agent Study conducted by The Nielsen Company.  According to Nielsen, OTAs are the most used online method for booking airline tickets, hotels, and holidays, boding well for the future potential of the industry -- with over 80 percent of Indians positively disposed towards Online Travel Agents. 

The survey was carried out in four metros (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore) and three mini-metros (Lucknow, Vadodara, Coimbatore). Respondents were in the age group 20-55 years and included those who had travelled by air in the past 12 months, were decision makers for air travel in the past 12 months, and who used the internet to surf for travel related information. Sample size used was 842.

The Nielsen study further found that the majority of Indians who haven't yet made any booking using Online Travel Agents had checked these sites for information and were positively inclined to make bookings in the future. Yatra, MakeMyTrip and Travel Guru are the strongest players in the OTA segment, according to Nielsen.

As per the Nielsen study, one third (34 per cent) of Indians book airline tickets using Online Travel Agents, 17 per cent book hotels and holidays using OTAs and 14 per cent book train tickets using these sites. OTAs have garnered a significant share of the airline ticket booking, considerably higher than even the company website of the airlines. The main alternatives to Online Travel Agents include traditional travel agents/tour operators, booking offices of hotels, and railway website for train booking.

''Given the growing penetration of the Internet in India, Online Travel Agents are becoming increasingly popularity amongst Indians. Consumers also find it quite convenient to book their tickets using these sites as it saves them time and effort required to make their reservations compared to other forms of bookings,'' said Vatsala Pant, director, consumer research, The Nielsen Company.

It is interesting to note that OTA sites are surfed by a majority of people even if they don't end up booking from the site.  More than two thirds (77 per cent) of Internet-connected Indians use OTA sites to search for airline information, 65 percent use the sites to search for train information, 59 per cent for hotel and 57 per cent for information on holidays.

''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 Pant.