Travel Trade Journal
The New Avatar of Online Travel ‘B2B2C’ and ‘B2E’
The world of online travel is fast evolving and so are the business models based on fresh requirements, needs, and consumer buying behaviour. COVID-19 and the ensuing meltdown have created a strong rethink among the travel agent community to transform into a smarter, faster, better, and more economical business setup. The opportunity thus created has led to the creation of platforms that ease and cater to this transformation. TTJ spoke to Anirban Sengupta, Chief Operating Officer, 2HUB, to understand how his company plans to empower its partners with their travel technology platform.
2HUB is a part of the Eastbound Group, a wellestablished player in the Inbound business space. Expansion plans into the domestic market led to the creation of 2Hub as a B2B reseller platform. Initially starting operations offline as the online platform was still under development, 2HUB remained focused on its efforts to carve out a unique position and proposition as a B2B2C-Business to Business to Consumer platform.
Anirban, a seasoned hotelier with over two decades with The Oberoi, Park, Hyatt, Leela, and Kempinski, brings his expertise and learnings to 2HUB. He explains, “Technology is not the easiest or cheapest to create and takes a long time, business knowledge and understanding to be put together and make it all happen. Thankfully, with our in-depth understanding of processes, market dynamics, and buying power, we were successful in creating a meaningful platform. We endeavour to offer an online seamless solution from procurement to distribution to consumer sale by the intermediary travel agent.”
Elaborating further, Anirban mentions, “The immediate advantage we enjoyed was great buying power, pricing, global partnerships and contacts, thanks to our holding company. That, however, was just the starting block, and to all that, we added on technology, processes, accounting, analytics, forecasting, customer management, and customisation. Thus creating a B2B2C ecosphere, where benefits are very cost-effectively and competitively used for business retention, servicing, and enhancement by our partners.”
The other segment that we are actively pursuing is B2E-Business to Enterprise. 2Hub offers a complete corporate travel management suite for corporations and enterprises catering to their individual corporate business travel and MICE requirements.
Optimistic about business growth, Anirban says, “Domestic remains the strength of our business at 2Hub, and to add to that, we have strong global tie-ups for our international component, we were expecting a business mix of 60/40 between our domestic and international but because of the various factors still at play globally our current mix stays at 80/20.”
Further segregating their hotel business, he mentions, “Top luxury and 5-star hotels account for 70 per cent of our business. First-class hotels come second at 20 per cent followed by boutique standalone properties at 10 per cent. Due to the strategic mix of the product portfolio with the concentration of top-end properties tilting the scales in the North and West of India, this region drives 60 per cent of the business, with the rest of the country following at 40 per cent.”
The focus on creating this platform lies in the basic principle of ease of doing business and being proactive. Any agent can sign up on the 2Hub platform after completing some very basic formalities and be ready for business in a matter of minutes. 2HUB understands that not only competitive pricing is a driving factor, but in the long term, the real success lies in retaining the customer. There is a need to be proactive in your approach to your customer and understand their motivation to travel, their buying patterns, and their preferences.
The 2HUB system monitors the customer as they navigate and buy and then shares suggestions and offers with its partners to propose further to their clients from time to time. This intelligent system not only enthuses customer confidence in the abilities of the travel agent but also generates future business and impulsive buying at times.
With almost 20,000 travel agents from all across India already onboard, 2HUB now aims at getting every transacting agent onto their platform and their sales team is actively pursuing this goal. The platform also has the flexibility for various levels of customisation by their agents, from very basic branding to complete white labelling.