Hundreds and thousands of brick and mortar bookstores in North America were made obsolete within a span of a few years when Amazon.com started selling books online. This was back in the days where less than half the populations were warming up to the internet technology. It was not until online destinations such as Kayak and Lonely Planet came about revolutionizing the way consumers booked travel services.
CouchSurfing, staycation, ecotourism these terms were never part of the online, urban dictionary until the late 2000s
In the later end of the early 2000s, the aura of the so called shared economy set in with the tremendous success of sites such as Airbnb and CouchSurfing. These new age companies led by young, hot blooded entrepreneurs designed platforms to bring service providers and seekers together with absolute ease.
India was not left behind, and is now a hotbed for service and technological innovation in the travel and tourism industry.
Any nation’s tourism industry can be compared to the proverbial two-sided coin. Where one face is of the government’s undertaking and the other is of the private sector. Our tourism industry is poised to click a whopping $440 billion by the year 2027.
The recently concluded national budget reflects a fair bit of the potential. With reduction in certain slabs on GST for hotel tariffs and funds infusion in the national railways sector to improve quality and frequency of connectivity, India has started to make the right noises. Will all these promises see success? We need to wait and watch.
The second face of the tourism coin is the private sector, where most of the innovation has occurred and will continue to occur for a long time. Domestic and international funding organizations are slowly infusing money into the travel and tourism sector in India. Some state governments are playing hosts to global investors and entrepreneurs to jump start innovation in the travel sector in their respective states.
Stats to satiate
Online hotel booking has seen a substantial y-o-y growth of 60%
India generated $20 Bn (INR 14.02 lakh Cr) or 9.6% of the GDP in 2016
Creation of 40.343 Mn jobs or 9.3% of its total employment
This stat are not just mind boggling but goes to highlight the tremendous potential to create innovative services and products to serve a large population (domestic and international) hungry for routine and unique travel experiences year round.
Present day scenario
Today the challenge is not only to bring more consumers to buy and sell travel services and products online, it is also a dire need to stay a few steps ahead in utilizing world beating, smart technologies such as Chabot’s, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR) to enhance the way people consume and experience travel services.
What can we do?
The entire industry succeeds when it can deliver top quality services at affordable cost to the masses. It is my hope to see many innovative companies creating lean administrative products and services to help travel service providers such as hoteliers, vacation home owners, and entities who deliver travel experiences and activities achieve efficiency at a competitive cost.
This is where we can drive efficiency and discipline and enable businesses to analyze performance and sell smarter. If businesses could pass on the cost benefits of creating and selling amazing services at low cost, then we would succeed as a whole in improving the industry is a small way.
Technologies such as low cost-high tech mobile phones, 4G and 5G internet speeds, AI, AR and VR will forever change the way people sell and buy tickets, book holidays, and interact with service providers. Now is the time to innovate and succeed.