Yatra adopts mobile-first approachNews / TechnologyBy Martin Cowen | May 3, 2015Share This article was originally published on Indian OTA yatra.com is now a mobile-first business, with its focus firmly on bringing a wide range of product and functionality to its apps.Its president Sharat Dhall was talking to Tnooz about some of the points raised in Yatra.com's Summer Survey 2015, which polled 15,000 of its users.The headline finding was that mobile bookings have grown at the expense of call centres and high street travel agents. The 2015 survey found 22% of people preferred to book using their mobile compared with 11% in 2013. A preference for travel agents was expressed by 11%, this time down from 30% last time.This also means that desktop bookings are growing - 67% this time compared with 59%. With e-commerce maturing and m-commerce growing, things look bleak for Indian travel agents and call centres.At Yatra.com Dhall said that desktop bookings were still important. "Mobile is growing but it is still only around 30% of bookings and 40% of the traffic. On hotels, we get less than 10% through the call centre so desktop is around 60%. "But for all future developments we are mobile-first and the focus will be our apps and we will be heavily promoting app usage. The user experience is better, the conversions are better."Share this quote Like the globally dominant OTAs, hotels are a massive part of Yatra.com's present and future thinking. Dhall claimed that Yatra's 32,000 bookable properties in India was the largest in the market and this it was increasing supply every year. "We have to offer everything so we are scaling up to be able to offer every type of accommodation. But as well as adding supply we must keep an eye on how we convert. We need to have quality content with strong availability at a good price. "We can chase the long-tail of hotel types but we must remain competitive while doing so."Share this quote Elsewhere, the survey looked at type of holiday Indian travellers are interested in. Good news for the online travel agents, with nearly half (46%) looking at booking transport and accommodation separately.This is also a positive trend for accommodation specialist startups such as Roomstonite or Stayzilla, and also bodes well for the Indian rail network's move towards mobile booking and payment, as well as brand dotcom-focused low-cost carriers.There is also good news for innovators, with 40% of people looking for a "personalized package itinerary". The idea of creating a tool which is able to create an individualized trip suggestion was one of the recurring themes at last December's THack Bangalore.The traditional tour operator package finds favour with 14% of respondents.Inspiration is another area where start-ups and innovators are looking for a route to market. Yatra.com's survey found that "references and experiences" and "family" as the main source for ideas about where to travel. "Blogs" are used by 20% of people with only 13% referencing social media.The survey also found out that sightseeing is the most popular activity for Indian travellers, followed by relaxation and therapies, implying quite a big market for tours and activity operators or spa centres which can offer online booking.Another niche which Yatra is involved in but which didn't get flagged up in the survey is adventure travel. Dhall explained that Yatra formed a joint venture in 2014 with Snow Leopard and launched Adventurenation.com specifically for this sector, selling adventure breaks in India but also offering a community platform for enthusiasts."There are lots of new segments like this which are emerging and we are always on the lookout for areas with strong potential," he said.In terms of the overall Indian market, Dhall suggested "the market for online travel is huge and there is a shift from offline to online across most lines of business. There will be room for big OTAs, but there will always be new businesses which come up with something interesting."