“The forward-looking summer bookings are extremely strong and better than last year. Last year was a fantastic year for us globally, and we had an internal tagline called ‘The best summer ever’ and I think we are going to surpass that,” he said.
“The demand is extremely strong in India as well. Despite average daily rates being high, people are still not trading down in accommodation options. People are booking more and more in advance and are hunting a lot more for deals. We expect religious travel to be robust through the summer in India. People also want to travel to off-beat destinations and are looking at experiential travel,” he added.
Kumar said the domestic business has grown ‘multifold’ over the past 18 months.
“India is a priority market for us. That means whatever we are doing globally with flights, experiences, and cars, we are planning to quickly replicate that here. It has now been two months since we launched Hindi both on the website and the app. It is helping us get eyeballs in tier two, tier three markets,” he said.
“We are also working on changes on the product side, and over the next few months and possibly in 2024, we hope to localise more and become more relevant for the Indian customers,” he added.
Booking.com currently has upwards of 70,000 properties listed for India which includes hotels, resorts, homes, and other unique places to stay.As per the company, the most searched destinations for Indians travelling domestically for summer from May to June are Manali, Goa, Rishikesh, Ooty, Jaipur and Srinagar besides the metros.
The most searched outbound destinations on the platform are Switzerland, Italy, France, USA, and the UK.
Globally, Booking Holdings reported revenues of $3.8 billion in quarter one of this year, up 40% year-on-year. The company’s adjusted EBITDA was up 89% year-on-year to $ 586 million.
“Globally, our listings have grown. Right now, we are sitting at around roughly 29 million listings globally. Close to 30% of that comes from alternative accommodation. That means everything in the non-hotel segment such as villas, beach side homes or city apartments,” said Kumar.
“There was a lot of churn during the first two years of the pandemic, but alternative accommodation has come back in a very big way. The overall supply looks very good, both globally and in India,” he added.
He said roughly 20% of the new consumers who book hotels with Booking.com are using the platform after booking a flight.
“We want to reduce friction for travellers. We are trying to build intelligent notifications at every part of the journey so automatically if one part of their journey is delayed, we will notify the other providers,” he said.
“We are also trying to make it comfortable for people to talk in the language of their choice. Hindi is a big push for us. We have 46 languages globally including Hindi now, and that number is only going to increase,” he added.
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