Business Travel

State Bank of India Launches Its First Travel Credit Card – India Report

  • Skift Take
    While there are several co-branded credit cards offered by airlines and hotels, banks releasing travel-focused core credit cards indicates a shift in consumer preference and the rising popularity of travel credit cards in India.

    India’s largest bank State Bank of India (SBI) has launched its first-ever travel focused credit card. ‘SBI Card MILES’ has been launched in three variants to cater to different types of travelers, from beginners to frequent flyers. 

    “Indian travelers are large global spenders and with increased and more robust travel plans, consumers are looking for curated benefits to enhance their travel experiences,” said Abhijit Chakravorty, CEO of SBI Card. 

    Rise of travel credit cards in India: Travel credit cards are rising in popularity in India. Card services company Visa in its report released in December 2023, stated that 95% of Indian travelers select credit cards for international travel, driven by features such as travel miles, cashback, rewards, and high limits on spending. Travel credit cards were the fastest growing category in 2023, with a year-on-year demand increase of 27%, according to a report by fintech platform ZET. 

    Several brands are coming up with travel credit cards. Last year, Marriott launched India’s first-ever co-branded hotel credit card in collaboration with HDFC Bank. SBI also has seven co-branded travel credit cards including those with railway company IRCTC, Air India, and online travel platform Yatra. IndiGo has partnered with Kotak and HDFC Bank for co-branded credit cards, while online travel company EaseMyTrip has a co-branded card with Standard Chartered. 

    Mahindra Holidays Records Highest-Ever Annual Performance in 2023-24

    Mahindra Holiday and Resorts has recorded its highest-ever annual performance in financial year 2023-24. It recorded a 12% year-on-year increase in total income, which stood at INR 14.2 billion ($171 million). During the year, the company added nearly 400 keys to its inventory, with resorts in locations such as Sikkim, Assam, Turkey, Thailand, and Georgia. 

    The group has also reached a member base of nearly 300,000 after adding more than 20,000 members in the 2023-24 fiscal year. 

    Mahindra Holidays and Resorts has set a target to double its inventory from the current over 5,000 rooms to 10,000 rooms by 2030. For this, it is planning to invest up to INR 45 billion ($539 million) over the next three to four years.

    IHG Hotels to Double Presence in India in 5 Years

    IHG Hotels and Resorts is planning to double its portfolio of operational hotels in India to 100 properties in the next five years. In 2023, IHG launched its voco brand in India, and signed hotels across luxury, premium, midscale, and upper midscale segments. In a statement, the company said that it is targeting high-growth secondary markets such as Amritsar, Lucknow, Kasauli, and Katra. 

    IHG’s India, Middle East and Africa managing director Haitham Mattar said, “India’s hospitality sector is experiencing a dynamic transformation, driven by a confluence of factors including increased disposable income, a growing middle class with a taste for travel, and the development of new tourist destinations.”

    The company also signed an agreement to debut the InterContinental in the southern state of Telangana. The 300-key InterContinental Hyderabad Neopolis is scheduled to open in 2029. 

    ITC Hotels Forays Overseas With ITC Ratnadipa in Colombo

    ITC Hotels has entered the international market with the opening of its first property outside India. ITC Ratnadipa in Colombo, Sri Lanka features 352 keys and is the biggest hotel in Sri Lanka. It also marks the biggest investment made by an Indian company in the island nation. 

    The hospitality company is looking to open more international hotels, said ITC Limited chairman Sanjiv Puri. In order to diversify its hotel portfolio, ITC Hotels is looking at neighboring countries and the Middle East region as the primary target markets. It is, however, seeking to continue its expansion momentum in India, aiming to add 70 hotels in the domestic market over the next five years. 

    Schengen Countries See 100% Jump in Indian Senior Citizen Indian Travelers

    There has been a 100% increase in Indian senior citizen travelers to Schengen countries this year, according to insurance company Policybazaar. The company noted that there was a slight uptick in users booking travel insurance policies exceeding 45 days in April this year. This trend is further expected to rise in view of the updated Schengen visa norms. 

    There is a 15% increase in travelers declaring pre-existing diseases while traveling to Europe and travelers are also selecting add-ons for their travel insurance. These add-ons include baggage loss, trip cancellation, adventure sports coverage, and pre-existing disease coverage. 

    The European Commission has introduced a new visa regime for Indian nationals, which allows them longer-term, multi-entry Schengen visas based on the applicant’s travel history. With this visa, they would be able to enter 29 European countries with travel rights equivalent to visa-free nationals. 

    Radisson Hotel Group Signs Svelte Delhi

    Radisson Hotel Group has signed Svelte Delhi as a member of its Radisson Individuals brand. The 108-key hotel adds to the company’s portfolio of more than 24 hotels in the Delhi national capital region. It is expected that the hotel will become operational by the third quarter of 2024. 

    The company is expanding its presence in the country, and earlier this month, debuted its luxury lifestyle brand Radisson Collection in India. In an interview with Skift, executive vice president Elie Younes said that multiple hotels will be opened under the brand over the next five years. 

    Photo Credit: 95% of Indian travelers select credit cards for international travel.
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