India market becomes mobile

MakeMyTrip.com, an online travel services firm based in New Delhi, with offices in the US and Australia, will soon launch a mobile interface which will allow Indian consumers to book flights, car-hire services and holidays from their mobile handset.


Speaking to Travolution during the September PhoCusWright conference in Brussels, Deep Kalra, founder and chief executive of MakeMyTrip.com, said the move was a natural “next step” for the Indian travel market given that 100 million, or 10% of the population, have mobiles.


This compares with the 4% of people in India who have access to the Internet. Even fewer people have access to high-speed lines.


According to PhoCusWright, the total travel market penetration currently stands at only 2.5%.


This leaves plenty of room for growth for entrepreneurs such as Kalra, who believes mobile travel bookings in India will soon leapfrog those in western countries. 


“This is one of the benefits of being a late bloomer in the online travel market,” said Kalra. 


“India is more advanced than the US and Europe when it comes to using mobiles to book travel because Indians already use their mobile phones for everything.”


Whereas mobile technology in the west is used mainly to keep travellers abreast of the latest flight information, Kalra believes mobile could become the primary method of booking travel in India, with providers featuring mobile-only travel offers akin to present-day web fares.


Kalra is currently negotiating with India’s primary mobile communications providers and had hoped to launch the interface by the end of the year. The move is well timed – next year, India will open 35,000 new hotel rooms and see huge growth in intra-continental airline routes and car-hire services.

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