Skift Take

Travelers showing a continued openness to book directly with hotels is a great practice of paying for what you see.

Hotel technology platform STAAH unveiled insights into its network of 19,000+ properties, revealing that in 2023, Indian travelers continued to remain inclined to book directly with hotels, despite the resurgence of online travel agencies.

Earlier Skift research had noted that demand for direct booking technology is witnessing a boom as hotels increasingly invest in it.

In its report, STAAH also noted that GoMMT, the owner of Goibibo and MakeMyTrip, secured the top spot in booking channels for the sixth consecutive year. Booking.com and Agoda retained their second and third positions, maintaining their standings from the previous year. Meanwhile, TravelGuru moved up two spots to claim the fourth position, while Expedia slipped down one spot to fifth place.

Indian Travel and Tourism Market Dynamics: Shoaib Ali, national sales head at STAAH, notes: “With their extensive reach in the Indian subcontinent and beyond, these online booking channels are well-positioned to capture their share of the burgeoning Indian travel and tourism market.”

STAAH SwiftBook and Direct Bookings: STAAH SwiftBook booking engine secured the sixth position, a slight decline from the previous year. However, the year-on-year revenue from this channel continues to grow. Shoaib mentions, “Travelers showed a continued openness to book directly with hotels in 2023, despite OTAs regaining ground.”

GDS and Business Travel Impact: As business bookings post-Covid resume and grow, global distribution system (GDS) makes a comeback in the top 10 channels. STAAH GDS and WebBeds enter the list at the eighth and tenth positions, reflecting strong demand from the business travel segment. HRS, an online booking portal specializing in business travel, also secures a position in the top 10.

Airbnb Holds Steady: Airbnb, the online marketplace for short-term and long-term rentals, maintains its seventh position in the Indian market. 

DGCA Calls for Emergency Exit Inspections For Boeing 737-8 Max Fleet

In the aftermath of the recent incident involving an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 Max, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India issued a directive to domestic airlines. The directive requires immediate inspection of emergency exits on all Boeing 737-8 Max planes in their fleets.

The move is considered a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of passengers and aircraft operations. The DGCA directive mandates “one-time emergency exit checks” for all Boeing 737-8 Max planes fleet operators.

What Happened? Alaska Air Flight 1282 experienced a blowout on Friday, resulting in the blowing off of a cabin panel. While en route to Ontario, California, the aircraft made an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon. According to flight data, the plane ascended to 16,000 feet (4,876 meters) before the incident occurred. The fuselage breach led to cabin depressurization. The plane landed safely with all 174 passengers and six crew members. No passengers were seated next to the cabin panel. 

Investigators are currently searching for the missing panel that fell off, as reported by Skift.

Inspections must be finished by noon on January 7. This ensures no disruption to flight schedules occurs during the inspection process.

While India doesn’t have B737-9 Max aircraft in its fleet, there are currently 43 B737 MAX planes in the fleet of various airlines in India. These include 22 with Akasa Air, 13 with SpiceJet B737, and eight with Air India Express.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data, the new Boeing 737 Max 9 involved in the incident was delivered to Alaska Airlines in late October and certified in early November. It had been in service for just eight weeks. The Max is Boeing’s newest version of the 737 and went into service in May 2017. The accident prompted the FAA to order a temporary grounding of all 737 Max 9 aircraft and require immediate inspections. Alaska and United are the only U.S. carriers operating the 737 Max 9, but the mandate also affected international carriers operating the aircraft for flights to the U.S., including India.

Indigo Tickets To Get Cheaper

Budget carrier Indigo announced the removal of fuel charge on its domestic and international routes. The fuel charge, introduced in October 2023 due to a surge in Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices, is now being withdrawn following a recent reduction in the prices.

As ATF prices are dynamic, Indigo has said it would continue to adjust its fares and components in response to price changes or market conditions.

Meanwhile, Indigo also mentioned that it has commenced operations from the newly-inaugurated Maharishi Valmiki International Airport in Ayodhya. The first pair of flights operated between Delhi and Ayodhya on Saturday, followed by daily operations between the cities from January 10.

Agoda Lists Out Emerging Destinations Based on Search Surge

As the new year begins, digital travel platform Agoda unveiled India’s top five emerging destinations through its “New Horizons List.” Analyzing year-on-year search data, the list showcases destinations witnessing notable growth in traveler interest. Topping the chart is Ahmedabad, followed by Kodaikanal, Mahabaleshwar, Ooty, and Kochi.

India’s Emerging Destinations and Search Increase

  1. Ahmedabad: 44% Increase: Ahmedabad, the financial capital of Gujarat, claims the top spot with a significant 44% increase in year-on-year searches. The city’s popularity among Indian travelers has grown, partly fueled by hosting the 2023 Cricket World Cup.
  2. Kodaikanal: 35% Increase: In Tamil Nadu, a picturesque nature destination, Kodaikanal experiences a 35% increase in searches. 
  3. Mahabaleshwar: 22% Increase: Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra, a hill station, sees a 22% increase in searches. 
  4. Ooty: 21% Increase: Ooty, another hill station, witnesses a 21% increase in searches. Renowned for its captivating colonial-era ambiance and tea plantations, Ooty continues to attract travelers.

Leisure Hotels Group Announces New Additions

Hotel chain Leisure Hotels Group has announced the signing of a 37-key Baikunth Resort in Kasauli, a mountainous resort.

“This is a strategic move in our long-term goal of augmenting the company’s landscape and foothold in destinations across Himachal. With Kasauli being a popular tourist destination across seasons, we aim to become the first choice of travellers looking for a tranquil stay close to nature,” said Vibhas Prasad, director of Leisure Hotels Group.

Additionally, the hotel group recently also signed a management agreement for a premium boutique hotel in Mcleodganj, contributing to the group’s growth in Himachal Pradesh.

Leisure Hotels has partnered with Belvedere Boutique Himalayan Retreat for the 34-key resort. Prasad said McLeodganj as a popular tourist destination presents immense opportunity for hospitality.

Indian Faith-Based Tourism Market Soars In Uttar Pradesh

The total number of tourists in Uttar Pradesh during the first nine months of 2023 surpassed the entire year’s footfall in 2022 by a few lakhs, reaching 32 crores compared to 31.85 crores.

Uttar Pradesh is home to Varanasi and other pilgrimage sites that witnesses a steady stream of travelers.

According to the Indian government, religious tourism accounted for 13% of the country’s total tourism revenue in 2022, generating more than Rs 1345 billion ($17 billion) in revenue. Around 1,433 million domestic tourists visited pilgrimage sites in the country.

To enhance the religious tourism experience, the Indian government has approved 45 projects under the Prashad Scheme, allocating a budget of 1586.10 crore ($21 million) thus far. Launched in 2014-2015, this scheme aims to develop and identify pilgrimage sites across India.

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Tags: agoda, airbnb, airlines, akasa air, american airlines, Boeing, Boeing 737, boeing 737 max, booking, hotels, makemytrip, tourism

Photo credit: Indian travelers prefer to book directly with hotels, says hotel technology platform STAAH. Hashoo Foundation USA / Flickr

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