Online bookings hit the roof! Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar among top tourist destinations: Devendra Parulekar, SaffronStays

An emerging pattern indicates a robust uptick in bookings for week days. (Photo source: SaffronStays)

Planning your summer vacation this year? Plenty of travel options and leisure destinations are available as Indian travellers are now set to travel even during week days to popular domestic destinations, rather than wait for long weekends. Since the unlock began, a whopping 115 per cent jump in new users at SaffronStays pinpoints how India’s travel and hospitality segment is recovering this year.

An emerging pattern indicates a robust uptick in bookings for week days.

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“Online bookings hit the roof,” its founder told Financial Express Online.

According to Devendra Parulekar, Founder, SaffronStays, “Our website traffic shot up by 98.47% last year, mainly due to digital transformation in our personal and professional lives. Online bookings hit the roof. Most of our queries were from Mumbai and Pune since that is where our major market is by people between 25 years to 55 years of age.”

India’s top leisure destinations this summer
“For summers, Alibaug will continue to be a popular choice due to the ease in travelling, thanks to RoRO and the pool villas. Mahabaleshwar, Matheran and Panchagni will be preferred by groups that want to escape Mumbai’s humidity. Lonavala will continue to reign as the tourist favourite destination for summer vacations,” Parulekar says.

He further adds, “People want to host their celebrations with picturesque backdrops. We provide end-to-end services for that. We have already hosted weddings, milestone birthdays and so on. When it comes to corporates, our homes are perfect for day events and overnight stays for small to medium size teams.”

In this conversation with Financial Express Online, SaffronStays founder shares valuable insights that show how the unlock phase has provided Indian travellers a much needed relief in terms of being able to step out of the comfort of their homes for short getaways and family vacations. Technology too has played a pivotal role in enabling hotels to gear up to this demand with contactless offerings.

On travel bookings shooting up online, what factors do you attribute this to?

Many brands, including us, have been quick to make this work for us and also change the way we function. The reason behind this was because we were short-staffed due to lack of public transport and attending to each and every query was turning out to be difficult.

People find comfort in booking through our contact center due to the assurance the person on the other end offers and they are hoping for a better deal on call. However, we rewarded them by offering the best rate online and turned the tide. On the service front, we ensured that it is a hassle-free experience, and people get what they see. Post-booking queries were of course answered by our contact center representatives. However, the online bookings hit the roof.

Week day bookings and average length of stay: Tell us more details on this. Which cities are witnessing most demand? Are hilly stations or beach destinations turning more popular for weekday booking and how do you expect this to play out over the next few months?

To be honest, our homes in Mahabaleshwar are doing as well as our homes in Alibaug, Lonavala or Kamshet. There’s a home for all reasons/seasons and group sizes. In fact, for the Republic Day long weekend all our homes in Maharashtra were completely sold.

People are still working from home. Given that it is not peak season time, we have noticed that there is demand for weekday stays that go up till the weekend. Add to this, we now have bigger groups opting to celebrate at our homes and corporates opting for weekday stays. Many of us missed our summer vacations last year. This year, it will be time to make up for it.

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