Krishna Rathi shares Agoda’s roadmap for Indian market

With its data-driven approach, Agoda has created a customer framework that is directional, actionable, and speaks fondly to its travelling consumers.

Finding success starts with finding your purpose. For Singapore-based Agoda, the purpose is clear: To create innovative travel products that will encourage people to explore the world on their own terms.

At a time when most travel brands are reeling from the pandemic and trying to stay afloat, Agoda is not just surviving, but also thriving. Although a fairly new entrant to the Indian market—through its data-driven approach—Agoda has created a customer framework that is directional, actionable, and speaks fondly to its travelling consumers.

Agoda has understood that it is crucial to have a signature brand aesthetic. The more defined the aesthetic, the more curatorial rigor it offers to its range of hotels, destinations, and experiences.

Krishna Rathi, Country Director, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka, Agoda

“We want to make travel easier for everyone, wherever they are and wherever they want to go. That means using our tech expertise to simplify everything— from search to payments, to property inventory management and marketing, to how we help partners reach guests,” says Krishna Rathi, Country Director, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka, Agoda.

India is a crucial market for Agoda. Although Agoda is widely known among the Indian travellers for great international deals to places like Bangkok, Singapore, New York, Dubai, and London, during the pandemic as borders closed, Agoda was also able to pivot and deliver those same great prices and an array of properties for domestic travel needs throughout India. 

“We knew we needed to help our 97,000 partners in India during the pandemic. We refocused our efforts on helping them to capture any latent demand by quickly developing products that would help them utilise their inventory. These included the likes of GoLocal, which promotes local travel as people weren’t only booking with much shorter lead times. They were also travelling less distance. Staycations became popular. To help differentiate and enhance the stay value, we created Agoda Special Offers, which allowed partners to value-add F&B or spa or other upgrades,” says Rathi. 

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Rathi added that the brand will continue to innovate and support its partners in India as travel bounces back.

“We are seeing bookings in general exceed 2019 levels, and a sizeable growth on inbound guests. We are refining the rate channel products and Welcome Back services to help our partners in India reach those travellers looking to explore India,” he says.

Highlighting the recent trends in travel, Rathi says, “Inbound bookings are growing across the board but what’s interesting to see is that markets in Asia Pacific are choosing to head to India as borders have reopened, with Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan — all jumping up the top-10 origin market ranking,” he says.

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People also desire to travel more sustainably as they have become more conscious of their choices while making travel decisions. Agoda’s Sustainable Travel Trends Survey from 2021 revealed that Indians were among the top three countries whose respondents most prevalently expressed their desire to travel more sustainably.

“We see various state governments in India taking steps to do their part in promoting ecotourism and sustainable travel.  It’s a trend I think we will continue to see, and one which is reflected in last year’s initiatives such as Vaxxed to Go and the newly launched Eco Deals program,” says Rathi.

Agoda’s global database currently features 30 lakh properties, of which 97,000 are in India.

“We have grown around 15-20% in India since 2019 and strive to develop products that will resonate with hotel partners so we can continue to increase our properties to give consumers the widest choice available,” says Rathi.

The brand is constantly working towards making the booking experience better, fast, and seamless.

“We use advanced technologies such as AI to achieve that.  We are passionate about getting the best prices for Agoda users, giving them the widest choice to suit whatever travel needs they have, while having responsive customer service for post-booking support, both self-service and agent-led,” he says.

Innovative and partner-friendly

Despite several online travel players in the market, Agoda stands out because it is a brand that invests in innovation.

“Our technology and how we develop products ensure that our partners can do business effectively. People in India are often surprised at how global Agoda is, with30 lakh properties, and while we are considered Asia-centric, we have a loyal worldwide customer base who return to us for the great prices and value we offer,” he says.

Agoda offers partners three important features: Reach, innovation, and support.

“We have over 30 lakh properties in more than 200 countries or territories, so we are truly global. We leverage our tech and marketing optimisation to help connect travellers in London, Bangkok or Tokyo who are searching for places to stay in Goa or Delhi. With the volume of searches on our website every day, we are able to use the data to refine results that users see so they see relevant properties, and our partners achieve higher conversion. We invest in innovation. We have more than 1,000 engineers creating products like EasyCancel or GoLocal which provided real business solutions at a time when travel had all but stopped. We support our partners with dedicated managers, the and continuous innovation to help them increase utility,” says Rathi.

With its new branding campaigns, Agoda is looking to win more market share in India. “This we will achieve not just by actively delivering on our promise of bringing the best value deals to our customers, but also by appealing to more partners who want the independence to take control of their marketing with support of big data insights and tech innovation to help achieve their business goals. In India and globally, we will look for ways to help ensure our partners enjoy the benefits of the big bounce as travel returns and have the products and marketing support they need to reach the public as they return to travel,” he says.

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