Noble Travels Group, which had launched an online bidding site, Bid2Travel.com, in April this year, believes the timing of its latest offering is an appropriate one.
Pritpal S. Saini, founder and director of Bid2Travel.com, http://events.eyefortravel.com/tdindia/speakers.asp said this is the perfect time for the launch considering that the travel industry is “transitting through the recessionary period.”
“Everyone is searching and exploring for the new revenue channels, and Bid2travel.com delivers the classic win-win situation… more satisfied guests and higher occupancy. We considered various factors before finalizing this unique concept, and the most important was to make a travel bidding site where nothing is mysterious or hidden from the travelers. Secondly, provide an online platform where customers and hotel owners interact directly with each other,” said Saini, who is scheduled to speak at EyeforTravel’s Travel Distribution Summit India 2009 http://events.eyefortravel.com/tdindia/agenda.asp to be held in Mumbai (October 6 -7) this year.
Saini, in an interview with EyeforTravel.com’s Ritesh Gupta, spoke about plans for his new venture. Excerpts:
What is going to be your focus in the first year? What targets have you set for this online bidding site?
Our first year focus is to create maximum awareness about the existence of Bid2travel in the Indian travel industry. We intend to create a brand, offering honest hotel deals instead of cheapest deals, which has the “condition apply” star tagged to them.
It’s our responsibility to create awareness about the hotel bidding concept, and if we successfully do that, then we can get the respectable share in the Indian travel industry.
How do you think an opaque sales channel is expected to shape in the Indian online travel market at this juncture?
Everyone is looking at the best possible options for cost cutting including both the suppliers and consumers (individuals and corporate). Our model is [a] solution for both the parties and without compromising on the quality and the brand reputation of the product.
We are creating a new space for online bidding in the travel industry, because we are not competing against the OTAs. OTAs have an absolute different concept of selling travel services for the whole span of 365 days, whereas we sell hotel rooms only for the next 14 days, which remain unsold through all these traditional channels. This is the reason that on Bid2travel prices are 30-50 percent cheaper than the reputed online travel sites.
Our major challenge is to create a perception in the mind of people that it is very much possible to book room at cheaper price at last minute as well.
In other markets in Asia, it is being acknowledged that hotels and airlines are aggressively using opaque sales channels available online to effectively obscure the sharp rate discounting taking place as regional economies tumble. Such channel[s] essentially pull together the lowest room and air rate offered by vendors and package them for sale to consumers online. How do you assess this offering from [a] dynamic pricing opportunity perspective?
In [the] travel industry there are some major problems… where consumer[s] are paying more because of the attitude of the hotelier.
The] hotelier is also losing money when [a] consumer does not buy these travel services because of the higher prices expected for the particular product/services.
We need to understand why this is happening, and how can we market the product in a way which can offer the win-win position to both the industry and the traveler.
Bid2travel is a channel where consumers are getting rooms at [a] lower cost, but the hotelier is also happy because he can get away from the commission and fee of intermediaries, which otherwise exists in other traditional sales channels. The supplier is generating the extra revenue from the hotel rooms, which otherwise would have remain[ed] vacant.
How do you foresee your relationship with hoteliers in India for usage of this new online bidding site?
Along with consumers, hotels will also gain substantially from Bid2travel. This unique concept creates a complementary distribution channel that offers hotels the ability to reach out to a more price-sensitive audience and to be able to sell rooms that might otherwise have gone unsold.
Behind the Bid2Travel scenes, there exists a strong revenue management science that combines marketing, analytics, and customer relationship management for increased loyalty and profits for the hotel industry, and this unique distribution channels comes free of cost for our partner hotels.
Are there any concerns, which hoteliers have expressed, and how are you addressing these concerns?
Not really, they have some queries, because this has never happened before, and it’s the first time when they will be selling their vacant/UN sold hotel rooms through online bidding. But, once they are explained in detail about the benefits attached to it, they are joining the same with positive hope and expectations.
Hotel owners are in the full control from start to finish on this site. The moment customer[s] place a bid, it goes directly to the hotelier, and he is the one who makes the final decision either to accept or decline the bid.
How do you intend to promote this site in the initial phase?
We have our in house SEO and SEM team to take care of the promotion for the initial phase. We have already got quite a lot of media coverage from the Indian print and electronic media as well.
Travel Distribution Summit India 2009
Pritpal S. Saini, founder and director of Bid2Travel.com, is scheduled to speak at EyeforTravel’s Travel Distribution Summit India 2009 to be held in Mumbai (October 6 -7) this year.
For more information, click here: http://events.eyefortravel.com/tdindia/agenda.asp.