Road travel fairly nascent travel category in India; Car rentals to remain the most
As the second wave of the pandemic begins to ease and people are looking for options to satiate their pent up travel need, what options lie in front of travelers and how best can they travel safely and securely. In a tete-a-tete with The Financial Express Online, Gaurav Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Savaari Car Rentals shares his insights on the trends that are emerging and how the travel industry will shape up. Excerpts:
What makes road trips the preferred mode of travel post-pandemic?
After more than a year spent indoors, people are now inclined towards leisure travel for their pent-up travel desire and long-pending retreats. Whether it is therapeutic travel to cure the pandemic fatigue or the government’s steady attempts to revive the country’s tourism, several factors have resonated to the tune of domestic travel, translating into a road-tripping boom in India.
- With safety taking the front seat, the travel pattern is currently determined by the distance of the destination from home as well as the various safety offerings during commute and stay. Which is why nearby, offbeat destinations that are accessible by short road trips are taking precedence over popular, crowded tourist destinations which are probably located in the other corner of the country.
- Road trips in India are a great way to make travel more experiential. Even travelers who usually fly out, are now preferring to take the road than regular modes of transport – on road trips, people are more in control of their environment and can completely avoid contact with strangers. Whether they self drive or rent a car, people now feel safer on the road.
- International leisure travel remains largely inaccessible even in 2021. Consequently, more and more travellers are turning towards domestic travel to satiate their wanderlust.
In the wake of this, pre-booked car rentals have emerged as the safest option for commuting during vacations. The provision of dedicated spaces for commuters alleviates safety concerns that arise due to the concurrently shared modes of transportation such as trains, buses, and airlines. Moreover, with door-to-door service, car rentals circumvents any need for commuters to be exposed to public spaces which pose the highest risk of infection spread.
How do you see the future of road trips emerging in the post-pandemic phase?
Road travel is a fairly nascent travel category in India, in terms of its mass appeal. Formerly a niche of the ‘serious’ travelers like bikers and backpackers, road travel has now found a wider patronage, especially in the backdrop of Covid.
Confined to the four walls, working from home, month after month, people are more appreciative of little things in life which were previously taken for granted. The thrill of hitting the roads, rolling down the windows, enjoying wind in the hair, breathing in the fresh air – a day out with family on the roads or short road trips are a few things that got people’s attention only during the lockdown months.
Even though the restrictions will reduce over time, but covid has surely changed the way people travel, for good. People are wary of their travel choices now more than ever with safety and sanitization being the key decision makers. With domestic travel being the first preference in the upcoming years, road trips will power through in the post pandemic world. And this trend is here to stay!
With curbs and restrictions easing out, how are the weekend getaways progressing?
– The culmination of the second wave coincided with the onset of monsoon travel in India. After a rather difficult second wave, people stepped out of their homes for a respite by traveling to popular, nearby monsoon destinations.
– Savaari has recorded a surge in demand for car rentals for some of the most interesting monsoon weekend getaway itineraries such as Mumbai-Lonavala, Mumbai-Mahabaleshwar, Pune-Igatpuri, Mumbai-Alibag, Bangalore-Shivanasamudra, Bangalore-Coorg, Bangalore-Chikmagalur, Chennai-Pondicherry, Delhi-Nainital, Delhi-Jim Corbett National Park, Delhi-Mussoorie and more.
– The demand for leisure travel started picking towards June end. As of August, the demand for round trips is already touching January 2021 numbers – the best travel month post the first wave.
Which are the locations that people prefer to go over the weekends? Is it hill stations or a resort or any other place?
The pandemic fatigue is at an all time high. Simultaneously, the impressive rate of vaccine administration in the country has instilled confidence in people to step out during the weekends. However, since safety is still the decision maker, the current travel patterns during weekends are being determined by the distance from the resident cities of people. The itineraries gaining popularity are the weekend getaways close to the metro cities – irrespective of hill stations or beaches.
Another interesting trend which has gained popularity after the pandemic are staycations. We found families with children booking cabs to get to a picturesque staycation resort over the weekend for a quick short break. Staycations allow you to unwind and relax, away from the humdrum of city life – something people could use at the moment. Getting on a short road trip to a nearby staycation for a day or two and coming back in a safe sanitized vehicle is a trend we are observing particularly among families and young couples, who claim they have been stressed out from prolonged confinement to their homes. Savaari received an overwhelming response…
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