Q] Cleartrip has recently launched an advertising
campaign, ‘Book Abhi, Travel Kabhi Bhi’. What was the idea behind it?
From the period of August-September, the world started to emerge from phased lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, opening up a bit. Travel enthusiasts began planning small trips to break the monotony. But planning a trip, on several instances, becomes tiring because of the hassles it involves, thus curbing the enthusiasm altogether. This is where our flagship products EZCancel and Flexifly can pitch in. Our aim is to weed out all uncertainties and travel-related glitches while a trip is being planned. We bring in simplicity and clarity in the chaos. Our latest campaign has been designed to convey this idea.
Q] On one hand you are seeing revenge travel and on the other restrictions seem to be coming back because of the new strain of the virus, Omicron. How do you finalise your marketing strategy at such uncertain times?
In a way we are trying to make travel easy. There is an urge among people to go on trips. While some are planning trips, others are a bit skeptical nowadays. There are several places to visit but everyone has to decide for themselves when is the right time to travel. It is not something that we can decide for them. Our message to our customers is that we, as a travel partner, will help you in the planning process even at the last moment. We offer flexible and affordable options and follow all the government protocols while planning trips.
Q] Since the acquisition by Flipkart, Cleartrip has seen 10 times growth in flight bookings, what exactly changed?
I have been with Cleartrip for Four months now and, as a CMO, I can tell what the future holds for us in terms of strategy. One rule we follow is to keep things simple for users and ourselves, and this won’t change. For example, if the current situation needs us to make our customers aware of the uncertainties and the flexibility option we provide, we will circulate the same narrative in multiple ways, while keeping it simple. Our aim is to be smart about decision-making, frugal about our ad spends, and make intelligent choices on the platforms. Our philosophy is to be in places where our users are.
Q] With India’s largest airport operator Adani acquiring a stake in Cleartrip, how much business growth is expected?
Any partnership is sealed with the aim of bringing growth, keeping the possibilities of the same in mind. It is a very strategic partnership with Adani.
Q] Will the partnership with Adani increase the advertising or marketing spends of Cleartrip?
Not really. The amount you spend on marketing or advertising is not determined by the partnership factor. It depends on our market audience, the share of voice we hold and the platforms we want to go to. Cost per reach varies from the print to TV to digital. So the philosophy followed for spends is irrespective of the partnerships. Being a marketer, I focus solely on the job of reaching out to the right audience in the right size and at the right time. We will continue to do that, irrespective of what happens around us.
Q] In these challenging times, how do you allocate your spends and what mediums do you target?
I have been a big proponent of digital marketing. Digital marketing will be at the forefront of everything we do. We are an internet-based company; our users are on the internet, they make plans and consume a lot of travel content on the internet. In general, there are approximately 600 billion views on travel queries. As a marketer, our job is to be a part of the consumers’ narrative rather than trying to make them a part of our narrative and that forms the base of our strategy. Our budget is allotted more on digital — 60-65%. The remaining 40-45% is for flexible strategies — it can be TV or outdoor depending on the point in time. But, largely we are focusing on programmatic personalization spaces.
Q] Several travel segments took a hit during COVID-19 due to restrictions. How much has COVID affected the business and how do you intend to make up for it in the upcoming year?
I think everybody wants to go out and experience life once again. Travel will be on the top of everyone’s wish list. We have several data points that indicate massive travel engagements when the world opens up fully. It is an exciting and challenging time for us. So we’re looking forward to be in this growth journey along with users, and working to be their best travel partner.