The Rapid Return of the Indian Traveler

Travelers from India are discovering experiences and doing more on their vacations. CEO of India-based OTA Thrillophilia shares insights on this large traveler market.

Reading Time: 4 minutes 14 seconds

While it seems all eyes are on China’s return to international travel, another major market also hit hard by the pandemic is already making a mark: India.

“The Indian traveler is doing a lot more travel than he or she was doing a few years ago pre-Covid,” notes Chitra Gurnari Daga, CEO and co-founder of Thrillophilia, an India-based online travel agency (OTA). And they are not just traveling more: they are doing more in-destination, which is good news for operators of tours, activities and attractions.

Daga – who will be speaking at Arival Activate | Bangkok 2023 in June — offers insights on the emerging Indian traveler market and tips for the tour, activity and experience operators hosting them. 

Indian Travelers Spending More on Experiences

As travel ramps up for the India market, Daga has noticed a significant difference in their booking habits: Indian travelers want to do more things. They have a greater appetite for booking experiences, activities, tours on their holidays — and taking more holidays in general.

While the average pre-Covid Indian traveler might have taken one holiday a year, Daga shares Thrillophilia is seeing people now booking one to two long holidays a year and three to four short weekend breaks to a wide variety of popular and emerging destinations around India and abroad. 

And where previously most of their spend would be on flights and hotels, “now the large part of the spend of the holiday is on activities and experiences.”

“People in India have started understanding experiences, and have started spending on experiences,” says Daga. “This is a major shift. Earlier people used to travel, do a city tour… now people are spending a good amount of money and experiencing the city, the destination.” Daga says she has seen people booking 20 experiences in a trip of seven days, as diverse as skydiving to museums.

Indian travelers are booking multiple experiences per trip ranging widely from skydiving to museums | Image: Otra Ruta / Pexels

Millennial Indian travelers in particular are opting for more group tours, and a lot more traveling abroad, Daga observes. “Five years ago, Millennials were not traveling outside of India.” Now, even Millennials with modest means are finding ways to book with cheap flights and hostels.

Luxury travel is growing as well, both for Millennials in the middle-income bracket, as well as less active older travelers and families traveling with kids and grandparents.

The size of the budget does not necessarily affect the number of experiences Indian travelers are booking, though: “when people have less money they will choose a destination which is cheaper, when they have money they will pick a destination which is a little more heavy on the pocket,” Daga explains, “but both travelers will do enough activities.”

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Understanding the Indian Traveler: Food, Families and Millennials

For suppliers of tours, activities and experiences who may want to attract or are already seeing more Indian travelers, Daga offers some insights to understanding this emerging market.

1.   Food is a High Priority

“I think the Indian traveler has a very important habit and that is food.” Daga advises suppliers hosting Indian travelers to understand their meal preferences, and ensure they are provided options for the right place to eat. “The Indian traveler loves food, and the Indian traveler loves Indian food when he or she goes out also.”

Being able to eat Indian food while traveling is important for many Indian travelers | Photo: Yan Krukau / Pexels

2.   Family, Older Travelers Focus on Luxury

Families as well as older Indian travelers are looking for luxury. “When an Indian family travels with kids (and often grandparents), what they’re looking for is comfort and luxury,” shares Daga. “Indian travelers who are beyond 45 years of age are not very active, they don’t want to hike a lot.”

3.   Millennials: Party All Night, Activities All Day

In contrast to luxury-oriented family travelers, “the Indian Millennial wants to party all night, do activities all day: they want to do everything,” shares Daga. Also, Indian Millennials “are very internet-conscious, they will read a lot on the internet… they would gather their knowledge and only then come and move forward.” Having good reviews and clear tour descriptions are important factors to attracting Indian Millennials who prioritize researching online before booking.

Learn More at Arival Activate | Bangkok 2023

Join us at Arival Activate | Bangkok 2023 where Thrillophilia CEO and Co-founder Chitra Gurnari Daga will be speaking in two sessions: one on The New and Future Indian Traveler and another on Navigating the Storm: How Our Businesses Thrived During Covid

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Header image: Pexels / Bhavitya Indora

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