NEW DELHI: Self-driving is India’s new immersive travel experience. Indian travellers now prefer their journeys to be as experiential and adventurous as possible.
Like in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, the trend of self-drive holidaying is gathering pace in India. Even Bollywood actor Kalki Koechlin undertook a 4,000 km trip on a bike to the North-East with her father in 2016.
The rising traveller aspiration is driven by good road connectivity, rising purchasing power of the middle-class families and millennials’ increased popularity of road-tripping, affordable GPS navigation systems and economical ride packages offered by car rental companies.
India’s highway connectivity has gone 25 percent from 76,818 kms in 2012 to 100,087 km in mid-June 2016. India’s emerging self-drive car rental market currently estimated at one percent of the total share, is expected to grow at a CAGR over 72 percent between 2016 and 2020.
Millennials’ travel bug is pushing this trend as they tend to explore the destinations at their own pace and navigate wherever they want to. They tend to look for value for money and driving around in one’s own car proves to be cost effective and hassle-free compared to tour package travels.
Moreover, finding an accommodation that delivers predictable, standardised and affordable services is no longer an issue. This is because of the emergence of new-age hospitality players such as OYO, which was the first to standardise budget hotel experience in tier two and tier three towns across the country.
This is feeding into the Impulse paradox in which travellers know that their expectations of a holiday experience will be met.
Self-drive rental cars are 30 percent-40 percent cheaper than chauffeur-driven cars since the additional cost of maintaining a driver is eliminated, according to a report of Technavio, a leading global technology research and advisory company.
The report also suggests that adventure and wildlife tourism contribute significantly to the demand for self-drive rental cars in India.
Self-driving cars are a plus for many. In the event of a break-down, car rentals organisation offer 24/7 customer support, and dealers ensure there is a car service workshop at a distance of every 30 kms on India’s high-density highways. A few operators are also setting up mobile toilet for the road, which can be set up anywhere within 10 minutes, thereby enriching the customer experience a lot more. Moreover, tier two and three cities will account for 50 to 65 percent of new ATMs ensuring that those taking a road holiday will not run out of money.
For instance, Zoomcar, one of the largest players in the self-driving car rentals market, in 2016 has doubled bookings, with a fleet of over 2,500 cars and two million app downloads. It has also ramped up to over 2, 00,000 destinations in the country.
All this, clubbed with the help of the technology on- the -go that makes hotel bookings easier, enable cashless payments and with the availability of updated tourist guides online, has cemented the expectations of the new-age customers that one can travel safe, hassle-free and on one’s onward journey in better shape.
OYO offers standardised rooms in different locations across the country. It provides key features like AC rooms with TV, spotless linen, complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi and hygienic washrooms. OYO can be booked by various ways including -OYO app, website or customer care.
It is feeding into the impulsive travel paradox and ensuring that travel worries are minimal.