A study from Google India shows that branded budget accommodation will have a bumper summer season, if search volumes are reflected in actual bookings.
Google's trends report found that branded budget hotel queries in India are growing at 179% year-on-year, compared with a 36% hike in overall budget hotel searches. Budget hotels, in general, are outperforming the overall accommodation sector, which itself is seeing strong growth of 39%.
Google India's sales director Vikas Agnihotri noted that online budget hotel players "have been quick to capitalise on the online demand with aggressive advertising spends in building their brands," which is good news for Google.
One of the tenets of the sector is that bringing independent budget hotels under a brand umbrella will help hotel owners reach a wider audience. The 179% increase in searches would appear to bear that out.
During the past year, the online budget accommodation sector has seen a lot of new entrants. The latest high-profile new entrant is Comfy Stays, launched by former Cleartrip vice president Rakesh Rama.
At the same time, some established online travel agencies have launched their own brands: Yatra.com has launched TG Stays and TG Rooms, while Ibibo Group launched Go Stays.
And there was the big consolidation play with Oyo Rooms taking over Zo Rooms.
So Google's findings confirm what most market-watchers knew. Online budget accommodation aggregation in India is one of the growth success stories of the past few years.
There are a few other interesting stats in the report to suggest there is more growth to come. Google says that only 20% of India's hotel inventory is available online, meaning that, in terms of supply, there are lots more properties in the frame for an offline to online shift.
It also said that most of the searches for budget accommodation seem to be coming from business travellers, meaning that the sector still has to penetrate leisure.
Related reading from Tnooz:Former Cleartrip exec sees entry-level opening, launches Comfy Stays (Feb 2016)
India’s hotel receptionists take more bookings than the OTAs (Jan 2016)
Yatra uses Travelguru presence to launch budget hotels and homestays brand (Oct 2015)
Ibibo sees B2B as a vehicle for better B2C (Sept 2015)