Yatra Looks to Grow its Corporate Travel Profile – India Report

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Business travel in India is on a rise. It is the ninth-largest market globally for business travel expenditure. Yatra’s agreement with Cipla is the latest development as online travel agencies in India work to profit from this segment.

Online travel agency Yatra has signed an agreement to provide travel service to Indian pharmaceutical giant Cipla – in line with the company’s strategy to focus efforts on the “more profitable” corporate business.”

Yatra’s CEO and co-founder Dhruv Shringi talked about the company’s focus on corporate customers during an earnings call this spring.

“During the fiscal year of 2024, we signed 83 new corporate customers, which translates into annual billing potential of INR 5.4 billion ($64.7 million). In the March quarter alone, we signed 25 new corporate clients,” he said.

For this year, Yatra is focusing on growing its hotels business, both for customers and corporate clients. The company said it has also hired a team to scale hotels in the corporate travel segment.

Earlier this year, Yatra.com appointed Gaurav Luthra as Chief Business Officer – New Business Development. Luthra in his earlier role had been the managing director of corporate travel platform FCM Travel. At the time of his appointment, the company had said, “He (Luthra) will lend his strategic leadership to drive the company’s corporate travel proposition focused on mid-market customers.”

The company has also launched an AI-powered expense management solution along with a new guesthouse booking platform for its corporate clients.

Corporate Travel in India: India is the ninth-largest market globally for business travel expenditure and the fourth-largest in the Asia Pacific region. 

According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), India’s business travel spending is set to reach $38 billion this year. It is also expected to make a full recovery to pre-2019 spending levels by 2025. 

Last year, business travel spending in India increased by almost 25%, reaching 78% of pre-pandemic levels. In 2024, the projected growth in business travel and meetings and events is estimated at 18%. 

OTAs’ Focus: As the corporate travel industry is surging in India, online travel companies are ramping up their efforts to profit from this segment. 

Online travel company MakeMyTrip is also looking to grow its corporate business through its corporate travel platform MyBiz. The company accelerated its efforts in this direction during the pandemic, and now has more than 55,000 active clients across sectors.

Dubai-based business travel platform Tumodo also announced the launch of its India services in April this year, expecting an 18% surge in the India market in 2024.

IHG Hotels Debuts in Kashmir

IHG Hotels and Resorts has entered Kashmir with the signing of voco Srinagar. The 95-key hotel is scheduled to open in October 2026. This marks IHG’s sixth voco hotel in India. 

Sudeep Jain, managing director – South West Asia for IHG, said, “Domestic tourism to leisure destinations is on the rise in India. We recognize the potential.”

The company is strategically expanding its presence in key leisure destinations in India. Over the next five years, IHG is planning to double its presence in India. In 2023, it signed 13 hotels in luxury, premium, and essentials categories across destinations such as Jim Corbett, Amritsar, and Goa.

Over 500,000 Indian Tourists Visited Singapore Through May

Between January and May this year, more than 500,000 Indian tourists visited Singapore, according to Singapore Tourism Board regional director Markus Tan. India was the fourth-largest source market for the Southeast nation during this period.

The Singapore Tourism Board is now organizing a multi-city roadshow in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Ahmedabad this month. Singapore is also focusing on the potential wedding business from India, particularly during the Ahmedabad and Kolkata legs. 

Singapore has been making a push to attract Indian tourists, in order to achieve its goal of receiving more than 1.5 million tourists this year. In April this year, Singapore signed three agreements with Indian companies in three days, including fintech player PhonePe, online travel company MakeMyTrip, and designer Rahul Mishra. 

Akasa Air to Add 200 Aircraft to its Fleet in 8 Years

Budget airline Akasa Air is expecting to add more than 200 planes over the next eight years to its current fleet of 24 Boeing 737 Max jets. The airline has placed an order for 226 Boeing 737 Max planes, CEO Vinay Dube has said. 

Akasa currently operates more than 900 weekly flights to more than 20 destinations, including Doha in Qatar and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. It is also slated to commence operations to the United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia this month. 

Dube also said that the market in India is big enough for the low-cost airline to succeed, “if we focus on ourselves. We don’t spend so much time focused on what competition is doing unless we have things we can learn from.”

Cygnett Hotels Launches Leadership Program

Cygnett Hotels and Resorts has launched its Cygnett Leadership Development Program to train current and prospective hospitality industry leaders. The training includes modules on people skills, leadership skills, digitalization, HR management, accounting, finance, marketing, auditing, and cultural transformation, the hotel chain said in a statement. 

A recent report by the Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council said that young workers are leaving the industry due to low wages and extended hours. Hotel Association of India president KB Kachru said that there was a need for better collaboration between educational institutions and industry players to fill the gap between hospitality education and the real requirements of the industry. 

SalamAir Commences Flights From Muscat to Delhi

Omani low-cost airline SalamAir commenced flights from Muscat to Delhi on Tuesday. The carrier is set to operate on the route twice a week. The announcement comes two weeks after it announced that it will be operating direct flights between Muscat and Chennai starting July 11. 

India is emerging as an important source market for tourism for Middle Eastern nations. In response to this, Indian and Middle Eastern carriers have significantly boosted connectivity to cater to the rising demand from Indian tourists. Airlines have launched new routes and increased the frequency of existing flights.

Airlines in the Middle East, including Emirates and Qatar Airways, have also been seeking grants for more seats under the bilateral agreements so that they can operate an increased number of flights to and from India. 

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