Intensifying India footprint

The accommodation aggregator with a formidable presence in Europe, is looking to grab a piece of the Indian pie, but not without the support of partners.

AHANA GURUNG

Priceline Group’s Booking. com is one of the several international online travel companies that believes India to be a valuable market and has been strategising accordingly. After forming a partnership with MakeMyTrip last year to increase the inventory and allow more options in the accommodation space, the metasearch engine has now collaborated with Paytm, allowing the latter access to over one million options in 227 countries.

Oliver Hua, Managing Director APAC, Booking. com, says that such partnerships with domestic travel brands are necessary for a stronger and prominent presence. “We have seen strong growth in South Asia, specifi- cally India, both for outbound as well as domestic travel. With India being such a large market, we are considerably a newcomer and a little bit of an outsider which is why we are tying up with various third-party partners like MakeMyTrip and Paytm to share our inventory. It’s a win-win situation.” According to Hua, 2016 was a year of strong growth for Booking.com and a similar trend is expected to continue this year. The portal saw a 70 per cent growth in expansion and with the impending opening of the fourth office in Kolkata, Booking.com is upbeat on the prospects. India is currently the second largest market in APAC, with China leading the pack. The mobile app and mobile site draws most of the traffic in comparison to the website. But with so much going on, Hua says the team is focused on one major aspect— to present the best end-to-end experience for accommodation.

Hua adds, “We are currently concentrating on rolling out a great customer-facing product, our mobile app. We want to take out as much friction as possible from the booking process and we’re doing that globally. That being said, we are investing a lot, not just in optimisation, mobile app and mobile web, but also in customer services. We now have native Hindi speakers to assist problems of Indian customers.”

“With India being such a large market, we are considerably a newcomer which is why we are tying up with various third-party partners to share our inventory”

• Oliver Hua, Managing Director, APAC Booking.com

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