Online travel refers to online travel and hotel booking using a third-party website that sells services, like flight, railways, roadways (bus/car), cruise, and hotel booking. These travel booking agencies, also popularly known as Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), generally provide individual customer services, rather than corporations, who use corporate travel agencies. While some OTAs, such as Google Flights provide one single service, others like Make My Trip.Com offers a comprehensive range of services.
Pre COVID 19
Just as world history periods break down into six distinct periods - foundations, classical, post-classical, early-modern, modern, and contemporary-we have now come to terms with the pre and post-COVID 19 periods. Before the coronavirus onset, the online travel industry witnessed significant expansions with healthy travel rates, whether business & pleasure/ personal & corporate and domestic & international travels.
Besides, the range of advantages that online travel booking offers was impacting the market growth positively. Some of the online travel benefits include the availability of internationally adaptable travel booking platforms, intuitive services on one account for all different travel needs, and huge savings of money, time, and various inconvenience issues and hassles.
Moreover, rising usages of advanced technologies, global distribution system (GDS), mobile applications, and network connectivity improvements increased market revenues. The rising adoption of online travel booking solutions by OTAs and tour operators, alongside the growing digitalization and automation in the travel industry to improve productivity and customer experience, influenced market growth.
Social media proliferation emerged as a significant influencer offering an effective marketing platform for online tour agencies. Sharing your travel experiences on social media platforms became the latest trend, which favored the online travel market. People started sharing their travel experiences and reviews, helping other customers to choose OTAs/travel agencies.
But then, the COVID 19 happened
Sadly, all this came to an end when the coronavirus pandemic severely hit the online travel industry. With all travels still standing for 5-6 months, the online travel market witnessed heavy revenue losses. However, determined industry players used these pandemic months for preparing the international development of their flagship products and services.
Post COVID 19
Agreeably is that the online travel market is rapidly returning to normalcy. Online travel businesses and OTA started to push investments to reboot, post the lockdown impositions getting relaxed. Investments in R&D for technology integration and service improvements and to drive expansion plans picked up.
Recent Trends in Online Travel
Industry players are acquiring promising new companies and fostering partnerships and collaboration to increase their global footprint. They embrace the latest technologies to proactively provide consistent services for their customers' market and business. They are adopting an influx of big data and other complementing technologies such as automation and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR). Digital transformation trends in the online travel services industry can help travel companies to address their immediate needs and most urgent problems.
Similarly, automation, digitization, and the increasing adoption of a more open approach towards partner cooperation by the online retailer would help them regain the momentum. Diversifying products and services would support them in getting back into the current by enriching marketing channels, opening up new opportunities to overtake competitors, and attracting & retaining customers.
Even countries across the globe are fostering their efforts and investments in rebooting their travel and tourism sector. They are advertising travel destinations in their countries. For example, efforts of the African Wildlife Foundation in boosting tourism by highlighting premium African safari and its vast wilderness. Some western countries are offering attractive, affordable deals, promoting school holidays and breaks, such as the Easter break.
Many developing countries such as India are accentuating their health and wellness tourism sector. The medical travel industry in India is particularly recording strong growth due to the high healthcare costs in Western countries and cost-competitive, high-quality medical facilities offered in the country.
The tourism industry in India has always been extensive and lively, and the nation has emerged as a major international destination. Tours and travel are among the most lucrative businesses in the country, accredited with contributions of a considerable volume of foreign exchange to the country's reserves.
The Indian tourism sector experiences significant growth, driven by the flourishing middle- income group, increased spending by the foreign and local tourists, and synchronized administration & promotions by the Indian government to encourage "Incredible India". With such seminal efforts by governments and industry players, it is needless to say that the online travel sector is expected to perceive tremendous growth in years to come.
According to Market Research Future (MRFR), the global online travel market is poised to reach a valuation of USD 1,134.55 billion by 2023, continually growing at 13.16% CAGR.