Travel Trade Journal

The New Avatar of Online Travel ‘B2B2C’ and ‘B2E’

- Gurjit Singh Ahuja

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.

 ?? ?? Anirban Sengupta
Anirban Sengupta

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