March 07, 2018

Irene Susan Eapen

Saif Omar, Co-founder, The Musafir Stories, elaborates on the trend of travel podcasts catching up with the discerning Indian traveler.

Destination promotion through podcasts

Our podcast, The Musafir Stories, aims to share travel experiences in the form of audio that is freely available on the internet and downloadable for offline listening on the go. The broad idea is to provide a unique way of sharing information and awareness about the wide range of destinations that our country has to offer through fun conversations with fellow travellers. We are confident that this information will be beneficial to travellers both from India and abroad. Besides, this also offers listeners a fun way to destress/unwind, all while listening to an informative conversation about a destination and experiences it has to offer!

How has the growth been from India in 2016/2017? What is the expected growth for 2018?

The number of podcasts worldwide has tripled over the last decade. It is believed that there are now about 500,000 podcasts overall. The adoption has been quite slow in India, though over the last five years, the number of ingenuously produced podcasts has gone from a handful to over a hundred. It is just the beginning of something big as the industry is slowly warming up to be an alternative to other mainstream media like radio, music, television and print. Podcast consumption has seen healthy increase year over year across the world and in India, the rate has been manifold. Since podcasts in general (and travel podcasts in particular) are still at a nascent stage in India, there are not a lot of definitive studies done on the estimated listener base as such and it is difficult to draw a direct co-relation between listeners and potential travelers at this stage (we currently have over a 100,000 plays/listens since going live about nine months ago). It has been estimated that while the overall podcast industry is growing in healthy double digit figures, outperforming other forms of media, this rate is much higher in India given that we are in an early stage of the adoption. But with some mainstream platforms like Saavn, Gaana, Hungama and Bookmyshow quickly embracing podcasts and original content, the adoption is only expected to rise exponentially in the coming months and years.

Marketing and promotional plans

Given that podcasts are a fairly new medium in India, discoverability still remains a huge challenge. We rely heavily on word of mouth, our guest travelers and existing listeners to get the word out. We have also been experimenting with different forms of social media since our listener base is mostly the urban youth, primarily in the 25-35 years bracket, who mostly consume podcasts on their smart phones. As most podcasts are currently bootstrapped/passion projects, with limited or no marketing budgets, one has to be creative with marketing and promotions in order to reach the intended audience. We try and engage with well established travellers and bloggers so that we can create awareness within the community and plan to introduce contests and prizes to engage listeners. In the future, as we gain more traction, we hope to tie up with other stakeholders in the travel industry in order to reach out to more people.

What are the unique destinations promoted through travel podcasts?

Indian travel destinations and experiences are the broad topic of discussion on our podcast. We have covered a range of destinations from offbeat to popular places, roadtrips, family trips and solo expeditions.We have also discussed niche experiences such as volunteering and yoga to adventure tourism and cultural tourism. In terms of places, we have covered a gamut of places including road trips that stretch from Leh to Kanyakumari, popular festivals like Hornbill in Nagaland to Rannotsav in Kutch, just to name a few. We speak with seasoned travellers on the podcast in order to ensure that the podcast is not just informative but also shares the message of traveling responsibly while enjoying the experience. Podcast trends In the short time after we went live, we have interviewed solo travellers, adventurers, road trippers, couple travellers as well as those who enjoy travelling with family.

There has been a notable contrast with the younger travellers keen on going off the beaten path and trying new things and new places while the more seasoned travellers seek to value the experiences the place has to offer. More and more travellers are willing to move out of their comfort zones and experiment to know more about people, culture and tradition than just the sights a place has to offer. With increasing disposable incomes, better connectivity, affordable means of transportation and improving work-life balance the number of travellers is set to continue growing.

At the same time, there is a need to spread awareness about responsible travel in order to preserve the environment, monuments, places and nature for the future generations - by simple steps like avoiding littering, plastics, noise pollution, vandalism and reducing the carbon footprint. This is a common message that our guest travellers and we strive to spread to the wider audience through the podcast. Influence of podcasts on travellers We hope to inform and inspire the new breed of travellers who are willing to experiment and explore their own backyard as well as foreign travellers who are looking to experience the different sights, colours and culture that India has to offer. Our goal is to share travel experiences with our listeners with the hope of inspiring them to explore our diverse and exotic country. Our motto is travel, share and inspire!

Keeping the pulse on the Indian travel industry for over a decade!

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