"Our Promise is to Get You the Best Hotel at the Best Price"
Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager of TripAdvisor speaks about what lies ahead for the travel website behemoth and dealing with the unique challenge of the vacation rental phenomenon.
BW HOTELIER spoke exclusively with Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager for TripAdvisor in India. He began by telling us the sheer volumes that the website deals with, “We are the world's largest travel site with 400 million uniques a month and growing. There is no other travel site that comes close”.
When it comes to India, Ganju said that TripAdvisor consistently rates in the top three travel sites, in the last two years—that is, if you don’t count IRCTC, which is a monopoly. “This is after the fact that for most of our life in India, the eight years we have been in existence, have been primarily as a planning site,” he adds.
When asked about the millennials and how the website was gearing towards the new customer, Ganju was circumspect, when he said, “people, whether they are young are old, are loyal to the product, which is why we continue to strive to be at the cutting edge of innovation and user experience as well as the value that we are providing. We want to delight you, help you plan the perfect trip. Booking is part of that, you can't plan without executing it. That is the reason why we got into booking”.
He added that typically Tripadvisor's user has been more mature globally, that's because the mature user has the money to spend and is the decision maker when it comes to the holiday. “The younger users are not the ones pulling out their credit cards and spending online. As that changes, I am absolutely sure, we will remain relevant to the whole planning and booking experience”, he said.
What about the challenge from Airbnb which has become a giant killer in the hospitality space, we asked. “To be fair, we recognise and commend what Airbnb have done in the vacation rental space. Having said that, the hotel sector is still much larger than vacation rentals and that is where we are focussed on and where we operate. Vacation rental is a business for us which is growing,” he began by saying.
“We switched to the market-based model about one-and-a-half years ago, where we enabled free listing where you could list your home for free, and we would make money on the transaction, as well as making the vacation rental instantly bookable. We now have 8,00,000 vacation rentals listed from across the world, so we are among the top three players even in vacation rentals globally. It's an important part of our mix, for strategic reasons, to complete the portfolio, to give the same hotel shopper the choice of a vacation rental as well,” he added.
“I think if we split our business into hotels, attractions and restaurants, we are fairly focussed on hotels even now, in India. Our promise to you is based on the back of the content and reviews you will find the best hotel at the best prices. We have instant bookings, but if you don't want to book with us, we should have got you to the point where you're ready to book, that's our promise. We are happy with both the models coexisting,” he concluded.
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