Yatra sees drastic dip in offline bookings after banknote ban

Indian OTA Yatra.com has identified an immediate offline-to-online shift in bookings after the government took some older banknotes out of circulation at short notice.

The so-called “demonitisation” was announced at the start of November, effectively giving notice that older 500 rupees ($7.40) and 1000 rupees ($14.80) notes were no longer legal tender. Holders were given a time limit to exchange old notes for new ones.

The controversial move was seen by some as an attempt to encourage Indian customers to use digital payment options.

Yatra’s winter survey was carried out after the announcement and found that “57.9% travellers [are]  booking through the desktop” and “a drastic dip in booking through offline agents”.

Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer of Yatra’s B2B businesses, notes: With demonetization, the trend of cashless transactions in travel will go up, and this will have significant medium to long term positives for online travel agents like us”.

Earlier this week via.com said that post-demonitization, it saw an increase in the take-up of its mobile and digital payment options.

And the biggest OTA in India, the combined MakeMyTrip and Ibibo Group business, has already said that offline-to-online represents a massive growth opportunity. Co-founder and India CEO Rajesh Magow said in an interview that its future “is not about moving existing online customers around the brands, it’s about moving offline customers to online.”

Mobile gets a lot of attention In India, but, perhaps surprisingly, 58% of the sample said that desktop was their preferred mode of booking.

Other insights of note from Yatra are a big increase in its customers’ interest in domestic travel, confirmation that most people look at finalizing their travel plans 15 days to 1 month in advance and a big business opportunity in that more than half the sample don’t bother with travel insurance.

Elsewhere, Yatra’s plans to list on NASDAQ came one step closer today when the shareholders the acquisition vehicle which took over Yatra earlier this year approved the deal.

Related reading from Tnooz:
MakeMyTrip sees Ibibo as key to capturing offline-to-online shift (Nov16)

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