Deep dive into the digitisation of SMB travel businesses in India

For small and medium enterprises (SMBs) across the hospitality and travel-tourism value chain, it is more important than ever before to reimagine their business by leveraging the power of technology.
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Despite the vulnerability brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic in the business ecosystem, there is a visible silver lining that has shone through. In the midst of grappling with significantly reduced revenues, stringent lockdowns, and other logistical issues, companies have realised the importance of revamping business models via digitisation. This is especially true for businesses in the travel sector which was one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic.

For small and medium enterprises (SMBs) across the hospitality and travel-tourism value chain, it is more important than ever before to reimagine their business by leveraging the power of technology.

Roadblocks for travel & tourism SMBs  

Even as small business owners realise the value of digitising their businesses, they are often met with a number of challenges that act as deterrents to the full-scale adoption of technology tools and hold back entrepreneurs from expanding their business horizons. 

High investment cost 

If and when SMB entrepreneurs do make the decision to purchase CRM software and other such tools, there arises the issue of additional licence costs. As small business teams expand, they have to continually pay and keep up with the costs of updating software. These constant investments in technology upkeep are a major hindrance for small business owners in the travel and tourism sector who are already struggling to stay afloat due to the pandemic-induced losses. 

Product misfit

More often than not, tech platforms are built in a standardised manner with a host of features and a complex user interface. This leads to small business owners being forced to buy additional features that they don’t require or are put off by tech features that are too complex to use. 

The way ahead for SMBs in the travel and tourism industry

According to a CISCO report, India currently ranks 9th in the SMB digital maturity list in the Asia Pacific region. Hence, there lies a long road ahead for companies to adopt full-fledged digitisation. But the good news is that there are an increasing number of business enablement platforms that small and medium travel and tourism entrepreneurs can partner with. Such platforms enable businesses to complete the basic steps of digitisation without any hassle and offer a slew of benefits. 

Profitability & revenue: Profitability remains a top priority for any business. By taking a business online on their own, entrepreneurs are opening the doors to increased profit margins and more revenue. By going digital independently, small businesses can become more discoverable and also manage to get rid of steep commissions charged by aggregators, resulting in increased revenue and profits.

Saving on time and effort: More often than not, SMB entrepreneurs have more than one business to look after. Digitising their business becomes even more important as it can free up time and energy that can then be diverted to other pursuits.

It can also help small and medium business owners to run their businesses remotely and not be bound to one location all year round. This can act as a major boon considering that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. 

Company reputation: A single Google search has the potential to attract or repel a customer from buying a product/availing of any service. Hence, creating an online presence is a crucial aspect of maintaining a business’ reputation. In today’s highly competitive market, customers cannot be expected to take a business seriously if they have no online presence to showcase its offerings effectively.

For the travel and tourism sector today, there is no real way to circumvent digitisation; it is no longer a choice. Although the road ahead is tricky, there is a real opportunity to stitch together a vibrant and digitally empowered network of travel and tourism SMB businesses across the length and breadth of India. 

Edited by Megha Reddy

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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