SMEs can say HelloTravel, connect with tourists

CIOL,

BANGALORE, INDIA: Indians, by nature, have been globetrotters. They like to take their families to tourist places and spend some quality time with them, at least, once a year in their quest to attain their own version of ‘nirvana’.

Recent figures show that the number of Indian tourists visiting foreign countries has increased recently. Similarly, the inflow of foreign as well as domestic tourists to different parts of India has also been on a rise, despite drawbacks.

Travel & tourism is not an insignificant industry anymore. Being the largest service industry, this sector’s contribution to the GDP is incredible.

Thousands of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are operating in this sector, employing millions of people and massively contributing to the economy. For the past several years, the industry has been getting a huge traction and attraction, owing to the advent of IT and other new technologies, as is evident from the mushrooming of number of travel websites and the huge traffic they have garnered.

HelloTravel is one of the many travel websites that makes sure you spend some quality time with your near and dear ones. A sister concern of IndiaMART.com, HelloTravel connects travelers with agents.

This correspondent recently had a chat with HelloTravel’s CEO Madhup Agrawal, who shared some insights into the sector and the company’s efforts to help SMEs in this field.

CIOL: What are the new trends in the travel industry in India?
Agrawal: As the average spending power has grown in India, families have started allocating more budgets to their leisure travel needs. Travelers have started exploring new destinations, thanks to immense information available on the Internet and competitive air fares and accommodation.

While Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have become a definite choice of today’s generation for its speed, accessibility from anywhere and easy payments, traditional agents also have their space secured because of the custom travel solutions they offer.

OTAs thrive as they provide many options to tourists, who have a single destination in mind, and make it very easy for them to book the trip by combining it with air/train travel booking options. While this works well for week-end trips, travelers who take a longer trip and want to club multiple destinations look to hire a travel agent to help them out in planning the trip.

This is where HelloTravel.com steps in by connecting travelers with travel agents; it is adding huge value to the entire travel industry’s supply chain.

CIOL: How does HelloTravel help the SMEs in India?
Agrawal: Most travel agents in the country today are micro, small and medium enterprises. Despite having the right services, they lack skills to market themselves to travelers resulting in their failure. The bigger players take advantage of the same and monopolize the markets, leaving a few potential opportunities for these SMEs to tap.

HelloTravel.com has created a level-playing field for these travel agents (SMEs) by providing them easy access to ‘intent to purchase’ travelers. Our ‘pay-as-you-go’ model enables SMEs to plan their investments as per their needs. We are enabling them to compete with large players. We also lend them an online presence, which is essential today.

CIOL: There are a number of travel companies operational in the country. Why should a customer visit your website?
Agrawal: HelloTravel.com has brought about a paradigm shift in the industry from being ‘seller-centric’ to ‘traveler-centric’. We connect each traveler with up to four credible and reputed travel agents, allowing them to choose from the most-competitive deals. It is a win-win situation for both the traveler as well as the travel agent.

With the concept of ‘see the lead before you pay for it’, HelloTravel.com has taken ‘pay-per-lead’ advertising to a totally different dimension for travel agents. Now, they spend money only on those leads that they can service. The best part is that they can deploy their marketing budgets based on their convenience.

Also, fresh leads are available on HelloTravel.com 24 hours a day. Agents can decide the date, time, quantity and cost of the leads that they want to choose. We are always there to connect them with travelers on demand.

While tourists get plenty of choices and peace of mind, travel agents can get down to doing what they do best without worrying about how to clinch more leads, thereby bringing in more predictability in their business.