Ex­pe­dia eye­ing off­line busi­ness

The group has joined hands with Track In­dia to take the Travel Agents Af­fli­ate Pro­gramme (TAAP) to Tier-ii and TIER-III cities in the coun­try.

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Ex­pand­ing its brand pres­ence in In­dia, the in­ter­na­tional on­line travel agency Ex­pe­dia has de­cided to con­sol­i­date its off­line pres­ence here. Re­al­is­ing the im­por­tance of the off­line busi­ness in the coun­try, Ex­pe­dia In­dia has joined hands with Track In­dia to take the Travel Agents Af­fil­i­ate Pro­gramme (TAPP) to Tier-II and Tier-III cities in the coun­try. Track In­dia is the GSA for lead­ing in­ter­na­tional low-cost car­ri­ers (LCCs) such as Air Arabia, Air Asia and Drukair. Boost­ing the util­ity value of the travel agents in the Track In­dia net­work, they can now book ho­tel rooms, flight tick­ets, car rentals and tai­lor­made pack­ages from Ex­pe­dia’s ex­ten­sive global in­ven­tory on be­half of their clients. As part of this tie-up, Track In­dia will is­sue credit cards to the net­work of travel agents, specif­i­cally for book­ing through Ex­pe­dia.co.in. Talk­ing about the new tie Vikram Malhi, Coun­try

OTAs have come out of their re­liance on flight book­ings by be­com­ing a one-stop ser­vice provider

Head, Ex­pe­dia In­dia elab­o­rates, “Travel agents in the Tier-II and Tier-III mar­kets gen­er­ally trans­act busi­ness over cash, there­fore, we were not able to lever­age that mar­ket so far. With this tie-up, we will be able to pen­e­trate this mar­ket. We also an­tic­i­pate an in­crease in air ticket sales and ho­tel room book­ings. Ex­pe­dia In­dia ex­pects Track In­dia to con­trib­ute 20 per cent of the over­all TAAP book­ings in In­dia.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ram Bhu­pal, CEO, Track In­dia, most of the agents in Tier-II and Tier-III cities are own­er­driven and are not fi­nan­cial ex­perts. They are not com­fort­able do­ing busi­ness through credit cards. With this as­so­ci­a­tion, they can con­duct trans­ac­tions freely us­ing credit cards on Ex­pe­dia, he adds.

Talk­ing about on­line travel agen­cies (OTAs) work­ing to­wards po­si­tion­ing them­selves as one-stop-ser­vice providers for all the travel needs, Malhi points out, “In the last few years, OTAs have come out of their re­liance on flight book­ings by re­struc­tur­ing busi­ness and mov­ing to­wards be­com­ing a one-stop ser­vice provider. OTAs are now cov­er­ing the over­all hos­pi­tal­ity and travel space by of­fer­ing in­ter­na­tional flights, ho­tels, in­ter­na­tional and domestic hol­i­days, car rentals and so on thereby ad­dress­ing the con­sumer’s en­tire travel needs. That’s go­ing to be the way the OTA in­dus­try will progress and trans­pose in the next five years.”

As part of its en­hanced in­vest­ment in In­dia, the group is set­ting up a global tech­nol­ogy cen­tre in In­dia and will hire 300 peo­ple lo­cally by end of 2013. The new fa­cil­ity in Gur­gaon will pri­mar­ily house em­ploy­ees work­ing on sales and mar­ket­ing, re­search and devel­op­ment, and travel sup­ply sup­port ser­vices for Ex­pe­dia Group’s Ex­pe­dia­brand, Ex­pe­dia.co.in, Ho­tels.com-brand and Egen­cia (cor­po­rate travel) busi­nesses. Ac­cord­ing to Malhi, the new of­fice is the largest fa­cil­ity for the group in Asia Pa­cific and the fifth largest glob­ally. As the Re­search and Devel­op­ment (R&D) hub for the re­gion, the new devel­op­ment cen­tre in In­dia will cre­ate travel ap­pli­ca­tions for lo­cal as well as the global mar­kets.

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Vikram Malhi

Coun­try Head Ex­pe­dia In­dia

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