Indian travellers could soon be able to walk into a branch of Thomas Cook India and book a flight-plus-Airbnb package after the pair announced that they were looking at ways of working together.
Abraham Alapatt, chief innovation officer for Thomas Cook India, said that the pilot scheme had been launched after internal research found that some 25% of independent Indian travellers wanted a more authentic stay option than hotels.
"While Airbnb is an exclusive online booking platform, the opportunity that we as India’s largest integrated travel and travel related financial services company bring to the table is the inclusion of its offline customers, most of whom have not experienced such stay options."
Thomas Cook India will offer Airbnb to its customers as a standalone purchase but the focus will be on using Airbnb as part of a package. A co-branded marketing campaign will be part of the phased roll-out. It will earn a commission on the Airbnb sale.
Alapatt explained that its focus in the accommodation space was to build partnerships with suppliers in order "to scale up our offerings which is primarily into selling holiday packages" rather than try to compete in the standalone accommodation booking sector.
Its decision late last year to partner with budget accommodation aggregator OYO was also driven by a desire to create budget packages for domestic travellers.
The Airbnb tie-up is international, and essentially opens up Airbnb's entire global inventory to the Indian market. The Airbnb tie-up is quite a coup, giving its offline customers the chance to book the type of vacation which is not available via India's online travel agents.
Related reading from Tnooz:Budget consolidation – Oyo Rooms buys rival ZO Rooms (Feb 2016)
Airbnb travellers shop for accommodation just like other travellers (Jan 2016)