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Portals shower discounts on foreign travel

New Delhi, Sept. 20: Leading travel portals are selling attractive packages at an affordable price for trips abroad.

Along with weekend packages, there are special fares for students.

Most operators, in association with select airlines, are offering great deals on airfare and extra incentives till September for destinations such as the UK, Europe, the US and Canada.

A student can fly to London, Rome or Milan for just Rs 9,450 and to Dallas via New York and Helsinki for as little as Rs 19,000.

In a tie-up with international airlines, Yatra.com, is giving extra baggage allowances from 23kg to 40kg for students, depending on the flight and destination.

Jet Airways’ “eduJetter benefits” is offering excess baggage between 40kg and 69kg for students travelling to the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, the UK and Singapore.

Jet has tied up with Matrix Cellular, a Delhi-based telecom solution provider, to offer free talk-time of up to Rs 3,500 and a rental waiver for the first month with a connection. It is also offering many other incentives such as shopping vouchers.

“While some airlines are offering custom-made packages, others operating on a system fare are offering extra baggage allowance, considering the first-timers who carry extra baggage,” Bhawna Agarwal, head of air business, Yatra.com, said.

According to a study conducted by research agency AC Nielson, travel portals such as Yatra, MakeMyTrip and Travelguru are the biggest players in the business with others such as cleartrip.com and travelocity.com following in their trail.

Nearly 80 per cent of Indians in metros prefer the online portals to plan their holidays, the study said.

It also revealed that a majority who hadn’t yet made any online booking checked the sites for information and were positively inclined to use them in the future.

The volume of business handled by the portals helps them to remain price competitive.

According to Keyur Joshi, co-founder and chief operating officer of MakeMyTrip.com, “Cost per transaction is substantially low because of the higher volumes handled online. It is, therefore, possible for online travel agencies like us to pass on the price competitive benefits to the consumers. We book around 10,000 tickets per day. Compare this with 400-500 ticket bookings per day handled by offline, brick-and-mortar agencies.”

The company has seen a year-on-year growth of 60 per cent to 70 per cent in revenues. Online visitors have grown 25-30 per cent.

Elaborating on offers made by his portal, Himanshu Singh, managing director of Travelocity.com, said the company had started giving users a 50 per cent discount on the basic airfare of any airline.

It has also launched a Rs 1,000 cash-back offer on booking at any of its 60,000 listed hotels in the world, a thousand of which are in India.

“We are planning to improve the search engines on our website and add new features to offer multi-stop functionalities. For instance, a user flying to New York would have the option to stop in London for two days. The same multi-stop functionalities will be available for domestic destinations also,” said Singh.

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