Every second indian technology or business blog is talking about travel being the next 2.0 frontier in india. My first question was how many 2.0 applications are already in use by masses in india ? Whatever portal relaunched are happening are 1.0 models using AJAX,XML for giving rich user interface and improving speed and efficency for making sites available on low speed connections.
All portals we see are screaming and saying what travel portals use to do in US in 1999. Cheap Cheaper Cheapest…. price the biggest thing to pull customers. In india none of the portals are working on niche sectors. Example Golf Tourisim or Adventure Tourism. Idea is to create verticals and derieve revenue from them by caterning to niche high spend segment.
Use of RSS for syndicating fares is another thing which portals should look at. This way they will have further reach/distribution of deals and information. As more of these travel portals are doing is trying to compete with offline travel agents with high cost call centre’s focusing on travel plans they are moving away from travel search engines concept which is the thing to remain focus in. In india example yatra.com or cleatrip.com are asking transaction fees above the low-cost airlines published fare but to compete with airline websites directly they need to come on the same level playing field. I recently went to a travel agent who informed he is payed 3%-4% by these low cost airlines for making reservations directly with them. But being internet savvy he says yatra.com.flightraja.com have made life easy for him . He just goes to these sites first and see which airlines offer the cheapest airefare and then by logging in as a travel agent with respective airlines make the reservation. So are they just another travel shopping comparision site or they suppose to compete with these airline websites.
Secondly customers are becoming aware of reserving tickets directly on airline sites. lets say flying with jet airways if they make direct reservation on jet airways site they can get bonus frequent flyers miles etc. Which these travel portals cant do.
If cost is the big focus for travel portals then work on lowest airfare guarantee or lock cheap airfare concept. Otherwise looking at all 3-5 travel portals launched in market their is no difference from customer perspective.