Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Travel, tourism

Seems like everybody who is connected with travel is getting into tourism and vice versa. Seems like everybody connected with real estate is getting into hospitality and then into tourism. Seems like everybody is getting into everything.

IRCTC, of the Indian railways ticket booking site, one of the sites which makes a lot of money out there in the Indian websphere (yes, not social networking, not mail, not auctions, but booking tickets seems to be the biggest thing on the web in India!) is now into tourism. They have a site called Railtourismindia which allows you to book a whole trip instead of booking for a train ticket and then a car and then a hotel and wonder if it will all fall in place. At this point, it appears to be more of booking special tourist trains than anything else, but for the railways, this is a great selling point, if they can get their bureaucracy to think in terms of customer service and upgrade services and a do a million other things.

Then you have the airlines. Air Deccan recently announced a package thing that included tickets and hotel stay - I couldnt find that anymore, but they are in an arrangement with one of the Travel websites - Travelguru to book your own tourism package. For both Railways and airlines, it is an obvious thing - to get into tourism. A Deccan aviation promoter, is into it too, per this report.

Some real estate companies are getting into resort building and that sort of activity that includes tourism. Prestige is a good example, though by no means the only one. There are real estate promoters who offer, apart from timesharing options, an option for people to own a house in popular tourist areas - some even maintain it for you and share the income stream with the owners.

There is definitely money to be made in the tourism sector in India. In India tourism is a fairly unpredictable and unorganized activity once you reach a place. The travel part of it is usually the best and that isn't saying much; the accommodation usually leaves you wanting for more or with unfulfilled promises and everything other than that seems a rip off. There are exceptions, and there are some very good places but that apart, it does not always seem to be a fair deal.

Nobody in this line seems to be thinking differently yet, so there is space here. But at the same time, with so many (railways, airlines, travel portals, real estate companies) getting into the tourism business, one cannot but get the feeling that at some point, there will be a shakeout.

1 comment:

Kavi said...

The forward and backward integration moves are leaving many gaping holes in the portfolios of some of the players mentioned.

Integration does bring its benefits. I believe the benefits will trickle in fully when a firm footing is established on core businesses. Until then, specialisation and creating mindshare and value is so very critical in chosen spaces.