Online Travel Portals

Are online travel portals a threat to tour operators?

Make my trip was the first travel portal which made it big in the Travel Trade Industry in India. There were many other travel portals much before Make my trip in India – but none of them made as a big a ripple in the Travel Industry as Make my Trip.

The success of Make my Trip led to many other successful Indian travel portals – Clear my Trip, Go Ibibbo, Agoda, Travel Chacha…etc. Also the leading travel portals of the world like, Bootsnall, Expedia..etc entered India in a big way.

The mushrooming of travel portals led to many other travel subsidiary portals. Trip Advisor is a portal that rates hotels, resorts & other service providers in the Hotel as well as in the Travel Trade Industries.

Also;;; started selling travel leads to stake holders in the travel trade industry – to mainly travel agents & tour operators.

All these portals suddenly changed the whole rules of the hospitality industry  for travel agents & tour operators. These portals helped the end users or the tourists in many ways & some of them are listed below.

1) Educated the tourists about the destinations
2) Rating of hotels & resorts helped the tourists in choosing the right place for their stay
3) The tariff + the special rates of the hotels & resorts offered by these portals was very helpful to the tourists.

But did the advent of these travel portals hurt the travel agents & the tour operators?

I, as a tour operator,  certainly do not think so. But there are lot of my fraternity people who think otherwise. I beg to differ with them.

I am of the firm opinion that these travel portals helped in the immense growth of the travel trade business. The commercials we regularly watch on TV by these travel portals as well as the advertisements in the print media helped immensely in the expansion of tourism all over India. Thanks to these TV commercials & advertisements in the print media; lots & lots of people all over India in general & even the people in rural India in particular started traveling more & more. Suddenly there was a boom in the travel trade industry.

But this boom in our industry did not help all. It certainly helped those tour operators who are honest – as much as the industry allows them to be + people who are knowledgeable about destinations & hotels. In short only the best were able to survive  in spite of the birth of so many travel portals pan India.

These travel portals were very helpful to all tourists without any exception. When a tourist walks into a tour operators’ office, he will have done his homework well. He knows where to go; which hotel to stay & the right prevailing price for that hotel. In short; he wants us to do everything as per his bidding & we can only assist him in delivering what he or she wants. Gone are the days when tour operators used to recommend destinations & hotels to the tourists.

The internet has made information available to all at their finger tips & the travel portals have brought sharp pricing to hotels & resorts.

I have been in this Industry for more than 14 years & I have realized that majority of tourists still prefer tour operators to travel portals when it comes to long tours involving many destinations. Booking a hotel in unknown cities for a night or two are still done more by travel portals. But when it comes to a holiday package involving many destinations + car / coach rentals; the tourists prefer the known tour operator.

I am of the firm opinion that a competent tour operator will do extremely well in today’s changed scenario in spite of these well known travel portals.

I thank these travel portals for expanding the holiday market & also thank them for making the tourists more knowledgeable. It makes our job lot easier.

But please do not assume that it is all hunky-dory for tour operators like me. Like any other business; we have our good & bad days. As long as the good days outnumber my bad days; I am happy to work as a holiday + travel consultant in this Industry.

Another reason why I am doing okay in this Industry is that I love my profession. This business is my passion today & though I am sixty years, I adore working in this Industry. Retirement has never crossed my mind even once & would like to die with my boots on.



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