Shorter breaks mark in­bound trend

With the ad­vent of tech­nol­ogy and new play­ers in the tourism in­dus­try, in­bound tour pack­ages have un­der­gone many changes, com­pelling tour op­er­a­tors to change gears to cater to the de­mands of the new-age for­eign tourists.

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There is a shift in in­bound travel pat­tern to In­dia es­pe­cially from Europe and the UK. Among the for­eign tourists from th­ese source mar­kets, we have wit­nessed a trend that tourists are tak­ing shorter breaks with shorter lead time. This sea­son in par­tic­u­lar, has seen an in­crease in this phe­nom­e­non and looks like a de­fin­i­tive chang­ing pat­tern. Ear­lier, for­eign tourists would book well in ad­vance but more re­cently, they are book­ing only 2-3 weeks be­fore trav­el­ling in the same month. Also, the du­ra­tion of stay has come down to 5-6 nights as com­pared to sev­eral weeks in In­dia. De­mand for experiential prod­ucts in In­dia is on the rise.

The dy­nam­ics of in­bound tours is chang­ing at a break­neck speed. With in­ter­net and tech­nol­ogy, des­ti­na­tions to be sold have to be re-dis­cov­ered, re-branded and re-pack­aged. Tour op­er­a­tors are re-en­gi­neer­ing their busi­ness to sus­tain com­pe­ti­tion not only from within the in­dus­try, but from global op­er­a­tors as well. With di­min­ish­ing mar­gins and dis­sem­i­nated knowl­edge among in­tend­ing tourists, the in­dus­try has to learn and evolve in or­der to match the knowl­edge of trav­ellers and cater to the unique de­mands for niche ex­pe­ri­ences.

The dy­nam­ics of in­bound tour pack­ages has changed dra­mat­i­cally over the years. The num­ber of days spent in In­dia by for­eign tourists has re­duced from 14-21 days to mostly 3-5 nights now. Ear­lier, the ad­vance book­ing pe­riod ranged from one year to six months whereas to­day, for­eign tourists book with a few days to spare as the dy­nam­ics of on­line book­ing has led to a par­a­digm shift in the way tourists ap­proach travel. The in­crease in air seat ca­pac­ity both on the in­bound and do­mes­tic sec­tors has also given cus­tomers the flex­i­bil­ity to book at the last minute.

An in­bound tour pack­age in In­dia is no longer about the Golden Tri­an­gle. Now, tourists are ask­ing for pack­ages to spe­cific des­ti­na­tions like Ker­ala where they want to un­der­take Ayurveda ther­a­pies, stay in the house boats and visit Mun­nar, Ku­marakom, Thekkady, Ko­valam, etc. Pack­ages for ad­ven­ture travel are in­creas­ingly gain­ing more pop­u­lar­ity and off­beat des­ti­na­tions are in higher de­mand. For­eign tourists have unique de­mands like Bol­ly­wood tours; med­i­cal tourism; Yoga and med­i­ta­tion cour­ses, etc.

The ad­di­tion of newer prod­ucts, devel­op­ment of in­fras­truc­ture and evolv­ing tech­nol­ogy has changed the dy­nam­ics of travel. OTAs are be­com­ing more ag­gres­sive and com­pet­i­tive with their user-friendly tools and are by­pass­ing the mid­dle­men. To­day, tourists ask for has­sle-free and value-for-money hol­i­days. For­eign tourists of all bud­gets travel to In­dia and thus, the du­ra­tion ranges from 3-21 days. Bud­get trav­ellers and back­pack­ers are in­creas­ingly us­ing on­line plat­forms to book ho­tels, train and bus tick­ets and do­mes­tic flights. Golden Tri­an­gle, Ra­jasthan, Ker­ala and Varanasi along with the Bud­dhist tours are very pop­u­lar.

The dy­nam­ics of travel is chang­ing not only in In­dia but glob­ally where tech­nol­ogy has played a big role. With chang­ing times, the cus­tomer pro­file, too, has changed and this is lead­ing the in­no­va­tion which is re­quired when tour pack­ages are for­mu­lated. There are two cat­e­gories in busi­ness; one is tech­nol­ogy and price ori­ented while the other is knowl­edge and in­no­va­tion based and we have to find our ex­per­tise, ca­pac­ity and also re­search the pro­file of the cus­tomers. We can no longer sell des­ti­na­tions; we have to sell prod­ucts which are spe­cific to the cus­tomer pro­file and the mar­ket dy­nam­ics.

Vikram Mad­hok In­dia Travel Award win­ner and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Aber­crom­bie & Kent In­dia

De­b­jit Dutta In­dia Travel Award win­ner and Founder & CEO Im­pres­sion Tourism Ser­vices

Arup Sen Di­rec­tor - Spe­cial Projects, Cox & Kings, In­dia Travel Award win­ner

Sub­hash Goyal In­dia Travel Award win­ner and Chair­man, STIC Travel Group

Pra­teek Hira Pres­i­dent & CEO Tornos In­dia

Su­nil Gupta Di­rec­tor Travel Bu­reau

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