“Staycations continues to be one of the biggest companies for us”: Ritu Mehrotra, Booking.com
A conversation with the regional manager of the leading travel aggregation platform – South Asia, about what travelers are looking for.
Watching a match in a stadium is still a dream for many Indian cricketers. Building on this idea, Booking.com organized “an ultimate cricket holiday” ahead of India’s first match at the ICC T20 Men’s World Cup. The main travel aggregation platform is also the official accommodation booking partner for the current tournament.
A survey by the platform found that 58% of Indians dream of watching a game live. The love of cricket is such that almost 45% of fans say they are likely to travel to a destination for cricket, even if it is not on their bucket list. Research has also shown that 63 percent of Indians would like to travel with their families to watch a World Cup game.
Speaking about the campaign at afaqs !, Ritu Mehrotra, Regional Manager – South Asia at Booking.com, said not everyone might be able to afford to see a live cricket match. So the platform decided to create a stadium-like experience.
She shares that the offer sold out within seconds, as thousands of people logged in to gain access to the exclusive stay in the Presidential Suite at Grand Hyatt Mumbai Hotels & Residences.
Another interesting campaign that Booking.com has recently launched is ‘Booking Explorers’. He incorporated famous leaders and pioneers from the Asia-Pacific region and took their fans through their travels.
Mehrotra says: “For us, it’s important to empower people to experience the world. This campaign aimed to bring people from different backgrounds to share their travel experiences. Since many people were unable to travel due to COVID, this wishlist campaign generated a lot of excitement among them. “
The Indians have now started packing and traveling again. Workations and staycations are the two new words that are now part of the traveler’s dictionary. When travel first resumed, after the COVID-induced lockdown, people preferred shorter trips and travel fatigue had set in.
Booking.com has seen an increase in the number of travelers booking stays, with flexible cancellation policies, due to the uncertain environment these days. Thus, the platform introduced the “Flexible-1 Day” policy which allows customers to cancel for free, even one day before check-in.
Speaking about hot travel trends, Mehrotra said, “Staycations continues to be one of the biggest companies for us. These days people like to go for shorter getaways. COVID has taught us that it’s better to do something today, than to postpone it. Therefore, one of the fastest growing booking segments has been staycations. “
Safety and health continue to be at the heart of travelers’ concerns. They are also more committed to sustainable travel.
Mehrotra adds, “We’re also seeing people looking for a strong Wi-Fi connection and longer jobs. Therefore, we have launched one week and 30 day stay options on our platform.
Speaking of the preferred mode of transportation, Mehrotra informs that previously, car travel was popular. But now the flights are operating at occupancy rates of 70-80%. People want to visit destinations like Dubai and the Maldives. The last few months have also seen a positive trend towards overseas travel.
When it comes to domestic travel, some of the top destinations on the platform include New Delhi, Goa, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Manali, Jaipur, and Udaipur.
Speaking about the fact that mobile bookings are becoming popular, Mehrotra mentions, “Sixty percent of people around the world use mobile phones to complete transactions. This trend will only increase. More than half of all reservations on Booking.com are made on a mobile device.
Booking.com also offers a special offer to its member partners, known as “mobile offers”. These member partners can tap into the traveler segment of the platform by offering an additional 10% or more discount for mobile users. A special badge will then appear next to their property in search results and also on the property page.
According to its website, 80% of travelers search for a trip on their app. In addition, 50 percent of accommodation searches and reservations are made via cell phones.
Booking.com competes with Tripadvisor, Airbnb, Expedia Group, etc. Speaking about competition, Mehrotra says: “As a company, we are aware of our competition. We are customer centric and want to be at the heart of what customers want.
The platform also contributed to the Prime Minister’s vision of Dekho Apna Desh by promoting domestic and inbound travel. According to Mehrotra, much of Booking.com’s business comes from domestic travel.
“For Booking.com, it’s not just about offering consumers attractive discounts, but also bringing them value. The platform offers customer service in 44 regional languages. In addition, feedback from partners is extremely important for us to further develop our business. “
Sharing the platform’s upcoming marketing plans, Mehrotra says Booking.com will focus on performance marketing. He wants to show the right product to the right user at the right time.
“Our entire marketing funnel is impacted by machine learning. Google is not the only way to know your consumers. People think about their next vacation by checking Instagram posts as well. Even if a user doesn’t know what they want, the platform begins to recommend user-specific suggestions. It’s not just about acquiring large-scale customers, but also ensuring that customer service and reviews play a crucial role in engaging with them, ”she concludes.