60% consumers say online travel sites do not disclose convenience fee upfront
- • 78% say these sites have made bookings easier for them
- • Only 33% say reviews on online travel sites reflect reality
- • Only 25% feel comfortable saving their banking or card information on these sites/apps
5th November, 2019, New Delhi: The Indian travel market is growing at a rapid pace and is projected to grow to around $55 billion by 2020, as per reports. The Indian aviation sector is also one of the fastest growing in the world. With greater awareness and more disposable income, Indians have been traveling like never before and online travel sites and apps act as their best buddies. Through these, booking flights, hotels etc. have become very easy. But there are many loopholes in using these sites and apps, as reported by various consumers.
With the improvement in technology, many consumers prefer to use online booking sites and apps instead of the traditional travel agents. LocalCircles conducted a survey to check the consumer pulse on online travel apps and websites which received more than 27,000 votes from 12,000+ unique consumers spread across 200 districts of India. The results of the survey are given below. 85% consumers in the first poll said they use online travel sites to book their travel while only 11% said they do not use it.
85% consumers say they use online travel sites/apps to book travel
Earlier, when making a travel booking, one needed to go through a travel agent who would take days to respond to your request and also charge you a hefty-fees for making the booking. And in case of a situation where the ticket needed cancellation, your money would be stuck for days. Online travel and accommodation marketplaces like MakeMyTrip, OYO, GoIbibo, Yatra, Hotels.com etc. have made the lives of the Indian traveller a little less stressful when it comes to making those bookings.
78% consumers in the second poll said that online travel sites/apps have made travel booking easier for them while 11% said that was not the case. Another 11% said that they do not use these sites/apps at all.
78% consumers say online travel sites have made travel booking easier for them
60% consumers in the next poll said that travel sites they use don’t disclose convenience fees upfront and add it to the total. Only 30% said that the travel sites disclose the convenience fee upfront and add to final amount at payment. 3% said there is no disclosure and it is charged separately to the card later while 7% said their sites do not charge a convenience fee at all.
60% consumers say travel sites don’t disclose convenience fees upfront and add it to the total
This issue in particular, has been reported by a number of consumers who say that the convenience fee is suddenly added at the very last step where the payment is being made. Some consumers don’t even realize that they are being charged a convenience fee and that the amount mentioned on the final page is different than what was on the previous page.
Only 33% consumers say hotel reviews on online travel sites/apps reflect reality, 47% find them biased towards the hotel
Reviews have become an integral part of the consumer online buying process, be it any product or service. Consumers look at the reviews of any product/service given by other users, and these reviews many times lead to the consumer deciding if they want to buy the product/service or not.
In the following poll, only 33% consumers said that hotel reviews on travel booking sites/apps reflect the reality, while 47% find them to be biased. 3% found them to be biased against the hotel while 17% said they did not check the reviews at all.
Only 25% consumers save their banking or card information with online travel sites/apps
When asked if they save their banking or card information on the travel sites/apps, only 25% said they do it while 68% said they don’t save the information. This indicates that a large number of consumers in India still don’t trust travel sites with their credit or debit card information. Consumers have also reported that some sites forcefully save their card information on their sites even if they specifically say no to it.
Processing of booking cancellations, timely refunds and pricing trust worthiness top consumer challenges with online travel sites/apps
The final question asked consumers as to what is their top most challenge with online travel sites/app. 35% said trust in pricing and 28% said cancellation of bookings was a concern. 21% said getting timely refunds was a problem while 16% said they did not have any challenge.
Many travel agents complain that their business has suffered due to the launch of many online travel booking sites like MakeMyTrip, Yatra etc. as people feel more comfortable in using them. These apps may be popular, but given the issues raised here by the consumers, it is important that the Government makes rules to appropriately protect consumer interest. LocalCircles has written to the respective Government authorities to include travel, hotel and other accommodation services in the ecommerce rules under Consumer Protection Act as well as under the ecommerce policy. It is also working with various arms of the Government on how convenience fees should be best rationalised keeping both consumer interest and cost incurred by businesses in mind.