Stressing the importance and perks of the online era of travel booking, Abhijit Mishra, Director, India & Middle East of KAYAK talks to Utsavi Jha about the convenience travellers would enjoy because of KAYAK’s many schemes and how technology is shaping the future of the travel industry.
“ From chatbots helping to answer user’s questions to predictive rate caching for hotels and flights, AI allows for more accurate fare modelling and flight price prediction. ”
Exhibit: Can you talk about your role at KAYAK in depth?
Abhijit Mishra: At KAYAK, apart from overseeing and developing the brand’s business for India & Middle East, my responsibilities also include leading growth and driving business development with strategic partners (airlines, hotels and OTAs).
Exhibit: Your portal thrives on internet connectivity and tech. What do you think of the relationship between Travel and Technology?
Technology has transformed the tourism and travel industry, both, for consumers and service providers. Just a few years ago, most Indian travellers were still planning their holidays by visiting a travel agent, and would need to rely on their own memories and notes to manage their travel itineraries. These days, new developments in consumer technology mean everything is easily accessible within just a few clicks. Advancement in technology has also created new business opportunities and changed the way service providers work as everything becomes more connected than ever before. Travellers are not just becoming smarter, but the everexpanding digital population has led to a surge in the number of online travellers who depend highly on technology for memorable travel experiences.
Exhibit: How do you try to place KAYAK apart from competitors?
What’s different about KAYAK is that we do all the hard work for you, by searching and comparing hundreds of travel sites so our users don’t have to. And we do this across flights, hotels, cars and packages in one place. We prioritise in terms of relevance, accuracy and speed. In addition, we have an App which is very helpful. It’s like having your own personal travel assistant to plan and manage your whole trip. With everything in one place, we help you organise it all in one App.
Exhibit: Are there any challenges that KAYAK faces and how do you tackle them?
India is a rapidly growing travel market and has continued to show impressive growth over the past several years. We see an immense potential in the online travel market. With increasing internet penetration and smartphone adoption, India stands at the cusp of an internet revolution. While the online travel space has witnessed a boom over the years, today, there are many players in the same space vying for the consumer’s attention. However, more than being a challenge, we see this as an opportunity for the industry and for consumers. We are here to help and guide travellers through each stage of traveling – from planning, booking, to managing the trip. We hope that with KAYAK, travellers can spend more time looking forward to their travel plans and leaving the stress from travel planning behind. We also believe our excellent products will attract India travelers to shift to KAYAK and to experience the best one-stop seamless travel experience with us.
Exhibit: What do you think of India as a startup hub?
Today, India is booming with startups backed by driven individuals who are filled with creative ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit. What lies at the centre of start-ups is innovation, and the ability to constantly meet the needs and wants of the evolving customer, both of which we at KAYAK also prioritise.
Exhibit: Tell us about your thoughts on social media, travel bloggers and how they’re capitalising on travel.
Will KAYAK be open to an association like that? In the recent times, the influence that travel bloggers have on the general audience has increased significantly. Today, more than looking up to a celebrity, aspirational travellers follow bloggers and influencers to take inspiration for their next travel destination and itinerary. In such a backdrop, of course we would be willing to explore opportunities with them because that is where the impact lies now.
Exhibit: What do you have to keep in mind when operating in India and what alterations does the portal have to make to fit as per the Indian travel scenario?
With increased prevalence of smartphones and consumers’ voracity for e-commerce in India, we see a huge opportunity here to continuously help and guide Indian travellers through each stage of traveling- from planning, booking, to managing their trips. Having pioneered the category globally, the onus of simplifying travel for Indian customers is a priority for us at KAYAK. Our tools and technology will help Indian travellers search, plan and manage their trips more easily.
To better help Indian travellers travel with confidence in the new year and make exploring even easier, we recently launched the first Travel Hacker Guide for India. We analyzed 1.5 billion+ annual travel search queries on KAYAK to create this Guide for travellers looking to start off the new year by planning their next holiday. Our Indian users also love our suite of helpful tools, especially the free travel assistant in our app Trips which manages all your itineraries and provides you real-time alerts on flight schedules, any changes, check-in information, etc.
Exhibit: Tell us about some of your favorite books.
I have always been intrigued by the human history and find “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari as one of the most engaging and informative account in Anthropology. I am also a big fan of mountaineering and find real life accounts such as “Into thin Air” by Jon Krakauer and “Everest 1953” very captivating and enthralling. My favourite fiction read is “The Devotion of Suspect X” by Keigo Higashino
Exhibit: What’s the next big thing in the travel industry?
Globally, Chat-based innovation is an area many travel brands are working on. We at KAYAK are also aggressively exploring. We’ve noticed that our millennials and even generation X are constantly talking on their devices. We are on a mission to bring KAYAK to platforms where people are spending their time, for example Facebook Messenger and Amazon Alexa voice search, etc. That said, we focus on our website and application, we see the diverging communication channels, and as a leader in travel tech, we provide many travel tools to make travel easier.
I would also like to point out that the future of travel is absolutely frictionless. Planning is as simple as taking a trip to the grocery store. Someday you will leave for a trip with just your mobile device because your boarding pass, passport, key to your hotel room and wallet will all be accessible from your smartphone.
“ Someday you will leave for a trip with just your mobile device because your boarding pass, passport, key to your hotel room and wallet will all be accessible from your smartphone. ”
Exhibit: What do you think of the current Tech scene in India? What’s the next big thing in Tech? With increasing internet penetration and smartphone adoption, India is at the cusp of a technological revolution. Developments in technology have led to some huge changes, both in the economy and in human behaviour. In my opinion, the next big thing in technology is Artificial Intelligence, and it will impact sectors across. Even for the travel and tourism sector, the potential for AI to transform the travel experience is massive. From chatbots helping to answer users’ questions to predictive rate caching for hotels and flights, AI allows for more accurate fare modelling and flight price prediction.
Companies need to adapt to this ever-changing world, integrate new technologies, and pass on the benefits to travellers.
Exhibit: Future of KAYAK.
India is a rapidly growing travel market and has continued to show impressive growth over the past several years. We see immense potential in the online travel market. We will continue to educate consumers about our brand and the suite of travel tools that we offer. We hope that with KAYAK travellers can spend more time looking forward to their travel plans and leaving the stress from travel planning behind. We are not focusing only on mobile, but an all-rounded seamless experience across platforms. As we penetrate further into the Indian market, we want our app and website to be a one stop travel solution for all Indian travellers.
- Describe KAYAK in a statement: At, KAYAK we like to say “Search one and done”. It is the perfect one-stop shop for the world’s favorite travel planning, booking and management tools, creating seamless travel experience for travellers across devices and platforms.
- Most unique gadget you’ve come across: My Suunto Core Watch which has a Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, GPS, Temperature, and Vibration alarm for SMS and Calls.
- Gadget on your Tech bucket list: DJI Mavic Pro drone.
- Most used apps: KAYAK, of course, to plan all my vacations and business travels. I can’t live without Trips! I also use Google maps, Gmail and Soundcloud.