With travel restrictions eased, we speak to Raj Rishi Singh, Chief Business Officer, GCC at MakeMyTrip to find out how he views future travel and how the online travel giant is geared to meet the needs of the Middle Eastern traveler.
Dubai Diaries: How does MakeMyTrip view the UAE’s travel market at the moment? Which sector/route do you see the most demand coming from?
Raj Rishi Singh: UAE has been one of the fastest growing tourism hubs globally and as a home to global travellers who seek superior travel experiences at every step of their journey – we are fully prepared to cater to their diverse needs. We have been working closely with the local tourism authorities and partners in UAE for over a decade now as we catered to the demands of Indian outbound travellers visiting the region. With this expansion we are cementing the relationship further with our partners and the ecosystem by solving for domestic and international travel demands of customers from UAE and across GCC. The local expertise and industry knowledge of our experts in UAE will definitely help us in our expansion and growth strategy as we move forward.
As travel restrictions eased for Indian nationals with a valid residency permit, we saw an instant spike in searches and bookings from travellers on MakeMyTrip. We have seen a steady increase in flight bookings to UAE since the curbs were eased in early August and we anticipate that this trend will continue to grow stronger in September. Travellers are preferring to book close to travel dates – with many making a booking a day or two prior to the date of travel. In the coming months, we hope to see fully vaccinated travellers return to traveling again for leisure as well as business. Sports tourism is also likely to see a great comeback around IPL and T20 World Cup – inviting sports enthusiasts and cricket fans from India into the region.
DD: What kind of impact has the uncertainty of travel to the subcontinent had on the overall travel industry, especially hospitality?
RRS: Besides safety and hygiene across all travel touchpoints, flexibility will be one critical customer ask while travelling in the future. While conventional tourism will continue to be preferred post the pandemic, the crisis is also a wake-up call for the global travel ecosystem to build and support a stronger and more resilient tourism economy. With many preferring sustainable travel choices, there is a great opportunity for the travel value chain to come together to promote responsible behaviour amongst travellers by designing and building travel products that suit new interests and preferred sustainable choices. There will be a definite uptick in demand for alternative accommodations including villas, holiday homes, home stays etc. as people will look for comfort, privacy and exclusivity at a home away from home. Some of the other trends that will emerge strong post the pandemic include people choosing multiple staycations or mini holidays over one big annual trip, demanding more flexibility around cancellation and modification of booking etc.
DD: How does MakeMyTrip help customers deal with uncertainty in travel to ensure they have a smooth experience?
RRS: Safety and hygiene continues to remain the top most priority of travellers; in parallel ensuring that our customers travel in a safe and hygienically secure environment throughout their journey is of paramount importance to us. At MakeMyTrip, we readapted our offerings to assure safety standardization and augmented hygiene standards in compliance with the guidelines issued by WHO and local travel authorities. Together with our partners across the value chain, we have successfully rolled out offerings for airlines, hotels and holiday packages including Staycations, Daycations in conformity with MySafety our safety assurance program that ensures safety across all travel touchpoints. Additionally, to offer worry-free travel planning amid ever-evolving travel regulations across countries, we have curated comprehensive content repositories and exhaustive guidebooks. This helps provide real-time information on quarantine guidelines, step-by-step instructions and more that will help travellers navigate travel planning easily.
DD: There are a number of travel platforms that have launched in the region – Tell us about how MakeMyTrip is different, and why should customers choose your platform over the others?
RRS: As one of the leading full-suite travel companies globally, MakeMyTrip enables travellers to book their end-to-end journey on a single platform with just a few clicks. Our all-inclusive travel platform will allow travellers to discover, choose, and book from a wide range of travel options without switching between platforms. With a wide variety of travel services available on one platform – we serve diverse travel interests and demands of all customer segments. From flights, hotels, staycation, daycation, holiday packages and more – we are a one-stop-travel shop for UAE’s large expatriate community as well as the local population. Post pandemic our focus will remain on elevating the travel experience through hassle-free booking processes, providing greater flexibility to alter travel plans amid the ongoing uncertainty, offering safe travel options at great value and deals, ensuring a seamless post booking support & more. We are looking forward to introduce travellers to a new way to plan, book and experience travel in the new world through the MakeMyTrip platform.