Re-imagining travel

Tourism and hospitality sectors are constantly innovating in a bid to smoothen distribution channel and how travellers consume content. This appetite to improve and simplify has only intensified since COVID-19. TRAVTALK takes a brief look at what’s happening on start-up front and kind of encouragement it is receiving.

Hazel Jain

The pandemic seems to have been a blessing in disguise for start-ups around the world, especially in the tourism industry. For many, it was an opportunity amid a crisis as they tried to resolve the challenges that COVID-19 posed to the business.

Ankit Kedia, Founder and Lead Investor at Capital A, feels there is dynamism in the Indian start-up arena today. “With the year ahead expected to push the Indian economy towards a revival, there is likely to be good growth in most sectors. However, the beneficiaries will be industries with faster and widespread digitisation. Similarly, infrastructure development is bound to get a big push from the public as well as the private sector in the next few years. SaaS companies will be another high-potential investment area. Today, the Indian domestic SaaS market is witnessing a rapid surge in demand from almost every segment. Digital technology is going to be the key enabler of efficiency and market dominance, and innovative SaaS start-ups that build the right solutions will be a good investment option,” he says.

Explaining how Software as a Service (or SaaS) products are giving companies an edge, Sanjay Ghare, Founder & Managing Director, Vervotech, said, “The Union Tourism industry is going through a digital transformation. The pandemic has pushed the transformation further. SaaS-based solutions for TMCs, B2B, B2C, and DMCs like white label solutions, payment gateway aggregations, and supplier aggregations help travel businesses leverage them for digital transformation.”

What are some of the ways in which SaaS is helping travel businesses and travellers at large? “SaaS-based solutions provide cost-effective solutions to businesses and allow them to go to market faster. Today’s travellers need everything at their fingertips and also need flexible options,” Ghare added.

Encouraging bright minds

Seeing the success rate of bright minds in the country, many companies are offering encouragement by way of opportunities andor financial support. For example, as many as six cutting-edge innovators have been selected to partner with the Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) to pilot new cost-effective and climate-smart cooling technologies.

This year’s Union Budget too delivered something for start-ups in India. Chirag Agarwal, Co-Founder of TravClan, says, “Being a B2B travel tech start-up, we are happy to see that the ministry has prioritised our needs and has extended the tax incentive until March 2023. This is a relief for new businesses such as ours to sustain, and it will also help a lot of new start-ups to take off. From a travel perspective, since travel agents are considered our primary partners, we welcome the well-deserved loans that are being introduced to give this sector some relief. The pandemic has been tough on the industry, and this decision will not only assist our business, but also impact the entire industry on the whole.”

The prediction is that start-ups that reach the other side of the current year will stand strong and have a large market for them to capture. Aditya Sanghi, Co-Founder, Hotelogix, another start-up in India, feels that in 2021, hotels will learn to stay relevant with technology. “This will impact their tech adoption decisions in 2022. Implementation of cloud-based hotel property management system (PMS) will be a boon in disguise for efficient multi-property operations as chain brands are in consolidation mode. This will help them address issues such as workforce shortages, while offering system access to their remote employees. There will be an exponential demand for touchless and AI-driven solutions to enhance the guest experience,” he said.

 

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