For business or pleasure, airfares rein in travellers

08 December,2010 07:18 AM IST |   |  Urvashi Seth

Hoteliers and tour operators grapple with last-minute cancellations, thanks to the hike in flight tickets

Hoteliers and tour operators grapple with last-minute cancellations, thanks to the hike in flight tickets

The surge in airfares over the last month and a half is, needless to say, dissuading travellers to take trips, whether for business or leisure, and in the process, plunging business for the hotel industry. The hike in airfares has brought down hotel bookings by almost 10 per cent, say hoteliers.

As leisure travellers curb their wanderlust and business travellers resort to technology to pare down travel costs after the inflated airfares, hoteliers say they have been receiving regular last-minute cancellations for reservations since the prices started shooting up.

Hoteliers say the last-minute cancellations have an indirect impact on the food and beverage sectors

Sudhanshu Kumar Singh, director, Ramee Group of Hotels, said, "We get more business during weekends but since mid-October there have been six or seven cancellations every weekend by individual travellers at the last moment. The cancellations also have an indirect impact on the food and beverage sectors."

Singh himself has cut down on travelling to his other properties in the country since the fare hike. "I am avoiding trips which are not so important as domestic flights are more expensive than the international ones," he said.

With corporate travellers exploring cheaper options like video conferencing to reach to their clients in other cities to rationalise costs, hoteliers say business will further sink for them.u00a0

"Corporate guests will look at other options like tele-video conferencing to trim their travelling expenses. The current situation may lead to a point where only high-income groups will be able to afford travelling by air," said Tapas De, general manager of Fariyas Hotel in Colaba, recollecting a similar situation guests faced during the economic downturn in during 2008-09.

Some hoteliers believe that individual and leisure travellers are more likely to forswear air travelling in the face of the steep fares. "The impact will be felt more by hotels that have individual or leisure travellers as guests.
Our hotels mostly aim for corporate clients and business events, so the impact has been marginal, hardly 5 per cent of the total bookings till date," said Dilwar Nensey, joint managing director, Imperial Palace Hotel (IPH), Goregaon. Average occupancy at the hotels is 60 per cent.

Tour agents cry foul

Iqbal Mulla, treasurer of Travel Agents Association Of India (TAAI) and owner of Treasure Tours and Travels, grumbled that the tour operators will lose the most.

Giving an instance of mass cancellation, Mulla said that a group of 40 travellers from France scrapped their bookings for January.
"Since only 18 agreed to travel to India, the group decided to postpone the visit to March. We are losing out on a lot of business. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has to act tough before the situation goes out of hand," he said.u00a0

Route-wise ticket prices on the net

From today, travellers can check route-wise air ticket prices fro spot bookings on the internet for various airline networks.

Following a directive by Aviation Ministry and DGCA, each airline*s website will have to provide airfares for every route across various categories, with details of how much the airfare will be in case the tickets are booked in advance.

Rs 40,000
The cost of a one-way flight between Delhi and Bangalore or Kolkata booked on the spot

Rs 15,000
The current fare for a one-way flight between Chennai and Coimbatore booked on the spot

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