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Dec, 16 2013

Around the world from your living room

Here’s an opportunity of earning some quick bucks and virtually travel around the world from the comfort of your home! With travel agencies offering franchise that can be operated from home and the travel industry growing at a rate of 8.1 percent per annu

According to a recent report, the Indian travel and tour industry is likely to grow to US $128 billion by 2016. With the growth rate pegged at more than 8 per cent per annum, the future of the travel industry looks bright in the time to come. If you want to enter this space, the best way to start out would be to sign up a franchise with any of the travel agencies. And the latest trend of work-from-home makes the opportunity all the more appealing.

Operate from home-    franchise opportunities

'Running a travel agency from home' is quite an unheard of phenomenon. But lately, many agencies are opting for this route in order to incorporate as many people from varied geographies as possible in their network.

“It is an incredible opportunity and gives immense flexibility to become working professionals, sitting right in the comfort of home.  With such a flexible working environment, one can easily spend time with their family and kids, manage the household and fulfill professional ambitions at the same time,” opines Mohit Gupta, Chief Business Officer- Holidays, MakeMyTrip.com.

MakeMyTrip has a unique program by the name of 'Holiday Experts' wherein the brand encourages women to associate with them as travel experts and undertake travel bookings from home. Another module from the company, 'Travel Franchisee from Home' is in the pipeline and will be launched soon.

Founded in the year 2000 by Deep Kalra, MakeMyTrip.com is one of India's leading online travel companies. The brand began its journey in the US-India travel market, offering a range of best-value products and services. After consolidating its position there, MakeMyTrip launched its India operations in 2005. The brand is also present offline through 62 stores across India.

Realizing the need for brick and mortar set up in tier II towns and cities, the brand established its first retail store in 2007 and started franchising in 2011. Franchisees now contribute nearly 5 per cent of the total company revenue and MakeMyTrip.com aims to take this figure to 15 per cent. With over 35 franchisees at the moment, the brand aims to reach a three-digit number in the coming year. MakeMyTrip offers complete training, marketing and centralised operations support to its franchisees. Regular incentives, rewards and recognition programs are also in place to acknowledge franchisees for their superlative work.

It conducts training programs from time to time, especially before the peak season to help franchisees and takes pride in being reckoned as a one-stop-travel-shop that offers a wide gamut of travel products and services in India.

Another franchise opportunity in the travel sector comes from Modiglobe, the brand which endorses work-from-home, as it is easy to operate and gives good opportunity to women, especially house-makers, to earn for themselves.

“Across the world, work-from-home opportunities are successful and prosperous. Why not in India then? On top of this, many industries are moving into the online arena. The same applies for the travel industry as well”, says Seana Wade, CEO, Modiglobe.

Modiglobe, a part of the Modi Group of Industries, offers home-based business model which lets one leverage his or her network of people while removing the unnecessary cost of an office space.Franchisees can book an array of travel services using the company's intelligent booking portal and avail its support services.The brand which started franchising in 2013 itself is quite buoyant as it could garner 81 franchisees in a matter of just 6 months.

With Modi Group's significant knowledge capital in the travel domain and more than two decades of experience in franchising in India, Modiglobe wants to expand further and is seeking suitable franchisees for doing business.

The brand has extensive training programmes for beginners in the industry. It educates its franchisees on sales planning, business operations, destination planning and online media. In addition, the company also supports franchisees in advertising, promotions and gives them an opportunity to leverage their personal website to run their business successfully.

The USP of Modiglobe lies in not competing with its franchisees. “We don't have retail stores where we also sell travel. We just point all our customers to our franchisees,” says Wade.

Believing in providing its customers 'cheaper than cheapest' travel products and services, EaseMyTrip.com is also offering franchise opportunity.EaseMyTrip.com is the travel portal of Easy Trip Planners Pvt. Ltd, which started out in the year 2008. Presently, the company has its branches in all major cities of India and in Bangkok along with 42,000 travel agents and 800 franchisees. EaseMyTrip.com endorses work-from-home culture as it helps maximise efforts and earn extra income.

“Running a travel agency from home is a good idea if you want to earn extra income while doing something else as well. It doesn't need a great infrastructure or much investment and you get empowered with a real time search engine. The only requirement is to promote your business through different mediums,” says Rikant Pitti, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, EaseMyTrip.com.

The brand gives complete training and support to its franchisees so they can enhance their skills to grow and develop the business. It also offers them various travel products ranging from domestic and international flight tickets to hotel reservations, holiday packages etc.According to the brand, its USP lies in providing 'cheapest rates', as it doesn't charge any convenience/ processing fee.

Growth drivers

The growing middle class base and the rise in the disposable incomes are factors that have made many Indians take to travel with ease. Also, travel in most cases is a favourite with 'DINK (Dual Income No Kids)' families. The ease of booking through online portals helps masses explore the ecological diversity of the country and low-cost travel and accommodation facilities pushes the envelope further.With loans available even for travel plans, more and more Indians are getting ready to pack bags and travel!

Trends in trade

Rise in experiential travel

Be it family vacation or solo tour, Indian travellers are now looking out for activities that enrich their lives, and experiences that can connect them with the people and culture of the destination.

“There is a shift in demand from relaxed vacation to activity oriented trips and experiential travel. Activities such as white water rafting, short hikes and treks, skiing, ballooning, scuba diving, wildlife safaris are gaining popularity. There has been a robust growth of over 30 per cent in experiential travel this year,” observes Mohit Gupta of MakeMyTrip.com.

Wade of Modiglobe agrees, “Increasingly, vacations are becoming more about the experience and less about the destination as the general consumer profile is gradually evolving.”

Growing influence of technology

Technology has deeply affected the way travellers experience it. Indians are getting more comfortable with accessing services and conveniences online. Today, customers are fairly confident of purchasing travel-products online from their preferred portals, or through mobiles.

“With smartphone adoption growing at a phenomenal rate, the number of travel-related searches and bookings via mobiles has sky-rocketed in the past year. We feel mobile apps will become an important point of sale for us in the near future'” says Mohit Gupta of MakeMyTrip.com.

Customised packages

Personalised packages, tailor-made according to the needs and requirements of the customers are slowly becoming the norm in the travel industry.

The next level of search

MakeMyTrip.com opines that Location-based or geospatial search capabilities and natural language processing will be next step in helping travellers plan their trip.

Challenges

With the Indian traveller evolving continuously, the industry needs to keep up with the pace. It is important to address the key concern areas of the new age jetsetters.

Many customers, especially in tier II towns and cities are still apprehensive about online payments. For this reason, cash-on-delivery payment option is offered by most service-providers. MakeMyTrip.com's recent survey reveals that payment/ data security continues to be the number one area of concern for a majority of Indian travellers when booking a hotel online.  Thus there is a need to educate customers further.

Travel companies also need to think of ways to add to post-sales experience while booking online.With mobile internet slated to grow by leaps and bounds and eclipse broadband reach; it will become important for travel agencies to provide secure and convenient booking options on the mobile platform as well.

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