Mobile to fuel online growth

While India’s emerging digital market is expected to see a 35 per cent increase in 2017, mobile adoption can be key in driving business in the industry, says Simon Lehmann, President, Phocuswright.

Travel research company Phocuswright’s Indian edition drew to a close with over 400 attendees in the gathering. The two-day event held from February 28-March 2, 2017, focused on Asia Pacific as the fastest growing region for travel and brought together the biggest names and disruptors in the industry.

The conference relies heavily on the relevance of the content and brings forth detailed information on the latest drifts and inclinations in travel, reiterating the fact that content is indeed king. On this, Lehmann comments, “Phocuswright has so much content to share and this is what all the guests take in. All the different topics we bring to the industry and our research topics cover the most relevant and ongoing topics in today’s world. We are creating a good value for the attendants but what we need to work on more is driving awareness and reaching out to a larger audience.” He hopes to double the attendee numbers in the next couple of years and aims to achieve the target by making a few tweaks in the next edition. “If we want to grow, we’re going to have to make some changes. From an overall perspective, there is not much we will really change in the programme but there will probably be a different venue. We just need to make sure that the pertinent developments in travel are brought out in the spotlight,” he explains.

Evolving online landscape
This year, disruptors based in India with the likes of Paytm, Yatra, MakeMyTrip and ibibo Group, to name a few, were on Centre Stage where they elaborated on their plans to make their presence even stronger, but with the online market still at a nascent stage in India, it’s going to take more than a handful of players for the country to be a front-runner. In agreement to this, Lehmann adds, “First of all, the market is very fragmented. Secondly, it is still very traditional when it comes to distribution. The opportunities here are huge and the market will probably be under more pressure by the international OTAs and not just the local ones. One more opportunity in terms of travel tech and distribution is the mobile penetration. The more smartphones are out there, the easier it becomes to reach to the customers.” A 35 per cent growth in the Indian online market for this year has been projected and is still an emerging market for mobile, with China leading mobile adoption in the APAC region.

Trend takeaways
The talk at Phocuswright India was the entry of the voice interface in the travel industry not just as a search option, but as apps and a customer interface that is expected to be the next big disruptor. However, it has not seen a high adoption rate indicating more complex work to be completed in the area. Lehmann says, “Voice has a huge potential but that technology is not really where people think it is. They want to apply voice, but it hasn’t seen that adoption yet and we see voice as a new customer interface for booking as a huge potential. This is a very complex technology especially with all the accents, which is an issue that has to be resolved.” Other such disruptors are in the spotlight is artificial intelligence and the ways it can be applied to improve the search result as well as customer personalisation. “The whole selfdriving issue where Uber and Google plans to push into will potentially impact travel as well,” he adds.

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