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In times of COVID, how travel firms plan to generate revenue

By Aneesh Phadnis
August 06, 2020 11:38 IST
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While Yatra is building a digital services platform to offer skill development training and sourcing solutions to corporate, Thomas Cook has partnered ICMR-accredited labs to offer Covid-19 certification, and MakeMyTrip is offering chartered flight services.

MakeMyTrip is offering chartered flight services on its platform as slump in airline ticket and hotel bookings forces companies to tap new revenue growth models.

While regular airline ticket sales have zero or minimum commission, travel agents can now earn around 5 per cent commission on chartered bookings.

 

Domestic airline capacity is currently less than 30 per cent of July 2019 levels and leisure travel has come to a halt because of visa and quarantine restrictions.

Against this backdrop, travel companies are working on alternative strategies to earn revenue.

MakeMyTrip joins the league of peers Yatra and Thomas Cook, which, too, are looking to cash in on different business opportunities.

Last week, Yatra said it was building a digital services platform to offer skill development training and sourcing solutions to corporate, while Thomas Cook has partnered Indian Council of Medical Research-accredited labs to offer Covid-19 certification.

“The demand for chartered flights has seen significant jump, with people looking for safe and customised travel options, even as they continue to prioritise social distancing,” said Saujanya Shrivastava, chief operating officer (CEO)-flights, MakeMyTrip, adding, “Our chartered flight services are targeted at corporates, high networth individuals, and other luxury-seekers looking for private and safe transfers during the pandemic.”

“We are building an integrated business services platform for corporates.

"This is to streamline the procurement process and help companies plug leaks, with better automation and compliance using technology.

"The idea is to transform from a travel services company into a business services platform on the corporate side,” said Dhruv Shringi, founder and CEO, Yatra.

While online portals are seeing a growth in bookings on a month-on-month basis, the volumes are still 15-20 per cent of pre-Covid levels; ticket and hotel bookings are still at 10-12 per cent.

“We have launched our Covid-19-negative certification services as an extension to our Assured Safe Travel Program.

"They are being offered both as a standalone service or integrated with other travel products,” said Rajeev Kale, president & country head (holidays), Thomas Cook (India).

“While commercial international air travel is yet to resume, our Covid-19-negative certification services are witnessing demand from travellers on repatriation flights, including Vande Bharat, for segments like work permit holders, residents, and foreign nationals.

"Our teams have been receiving requests from both individual as well as corporates.

"The source markets include India’s metros and tier 2-3 cities and towns,” added Kale.

Photograph: Reuters

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Aneesh Phadnis in Mumbai
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