Going after India's multi-billion dollar online travel market
06/21/2007|5:27:00 PM|Travelmole
Jun. 19, The US, a pioneer of travel search engines, has positioned itself to be a major player in India´s rapid growing multi-billion dollar online travel market, say industry officials.

Supported by an India and US-based team, SweetFare.com is recognized as the industry´s most powerful flight search engine, offering shopping over 130 airlines, including more major and low cost airlines around-the-world than any other site.

"The Emerging Travel Marketplace in India, crystallizes the online travel opportunity for us", said Martin Gray, travel industry consultant and SweetFare.com co-founder. He added:

The online travel market in India will be the most dynamic in Asia Pacific, and will experience strong growth over the next five years. Unlike in China, where only 3% of Web-initiated travel transactions were fulfilled online, 95% of such transactions will be fulfilled online as the Indian market develops.

Nowhere has the growth of air travel been more spectacular than in India, where Air Deccan, SpiceJet, GoAir, and IndiGo have grown rapidly, taking a 29% share of the local market since deregulation began three years ago.

SweetFare.com U.S. founder Charles Kao, who first developed meta-search engines and acquired the patent in 1998, has been licensing their technology to other companies, but decided that the India and Asia market was too ripe and large not to launch their own consumer travel search engine site.

SweetFare.com´s flight search, available on the new India site, provides real-time prices and itineraries from more than 130 travel Web sites including leading India and Asian low cost carriers, SpiceJet, King Fisher, Jet Airways; major mainstream carriers Air India, Thai Airways, Virgin Atlantic; and online travel agencies such as Expedia, Travelocity.

"Their entry into the Asia market, via India, is very strategic considering that Southeast Asia markets starting in January, 2008, all restrictions on the region´s carriers flying into neighboring countries will be lifted under the new free skies policy first negotiated by ASEAN a decade ago," said Joe Buhler, a PhoCusWright associate. "India´s rapid economic growth and rising prosperity, which are fueling travel growth, makes it a good place to start."

Les Ottolenghi, CEO of Intent Media and an expert in meta-search industry, said: "TheSweetFare.com management and technology team are savvy veterans who know the travel meta-search business. They know how to balance their superior technology and content to meet the needs of the air travelers´ and airline vendors."