What you will find in this Case Study?
1) About the company
2) Business Model
3) Brand Building & Growth
4) Funding received by cleartrip
5) Cleartrip over social media
Cleartrip is an Indian online travel company headquartered in Mumbai. It provides online booking services for flights and train tickets, hotel reservations, and domestic and international holiday packages.
Cleartrip was founded by Stuart Crighton and Hrush Bhatt and the name was set to Cleartrip with the idea of Hrush Bhatt. Prior to founding Cleartrip, Stuart worked with Abacus Distribution Systems, Asia’s leading GDS as Head, South and West Asia. He was responsible for all operation and strategy across India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.
The right business model
With no banner, pop-up windows and blinking glitz on its portal, Cleartrip is all about making travel simple. Started in 2006, the Mumbai based portal has not only redefined the online travel booking experience but also underlined the importance of non-revenue generating products.
2006 was the year when the Indian travel industry was witnessing a boom in Low Cost Carriers, online railway bookings and increasing penetration of credit cards for online bookings. During the same time, Cleartrip.com was launched with a core idea of – ‘Making travel simple.’ Selecting a right operating model for Cleartrip was a tough task. But the portal took a decision to make maximum use of technology and finalized on a 100 per cent pure online model instead of opting for off-line or hybrid (online and off-line) model.
In 2006, after studying the market conditions, Cleartrip team realized that Indian travellers are willing to book domestic flights online, but not international flights, hotels or other travel services. Thus, it started off by offering domestic flight tickets including major LCC tickets on its portal. After six months of launch, the portal started to offer hotel inventory online.
Despite of the challenges, Cleartrip.com started off with hotel booking options as an experimental model and received outstanding response. Along with offering hotel inventory, the portal put up pictures and few fast facts of every hotel in its inventory listings. While this was a non-revenue generating act, it directly impacted the booking behavior of end consumers. This resulted in the hotel product became a huge success.
In October 2008, the portal added international flight booking option and the portal is receiving good response for US, UK and Middle East routes. Thus, the core business strategy of the portal is to ensure quick online bookings and launching products at the right time and in sequence.
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Brand building and Growth
The biggest challenge for Cleartrip after its launch was to attract traffic and ask the travellers to use their portal. Thus, a concrete marketing and brand awareness strategy was designed to build the product in Indian travel industry. The portal started advertising through television commercials, print media etc.
Today, the key focus of the portal is promoting itself through social networking sites. Social networking sites provide a platform to develop relations with end consumers and ensure that Cleartrip is a ‘top-of the mind’ product for end consumers while booking travel services online. It also helped in providing lots of information about consumer behavior, their requirements; market trends that helped the brand understand the market more effectively.
In August 2014, Cleartrip established booking contracts with over 15,000 hotels across the globe, and reported approximately 15,000 air transactions and 2,000 hotel bookings on its portal.
Till now, Cleartrip has had five rounds of funding. The first was in 2006 from Sherpalo Ventures and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers. Subsequently, it got funds in November of the same year and then in 2008.
Concur invested $52 million in Cleartrip in two tranches in 2011 and 2012 and thus, the actual funds raised by Cleartrip could be higher than $67 million.
Cleartrip on Social Media
Cleartrip uses various social media platforms to gather feedback and improve products, provide troubleshooting, offer customer service.
The brand has been early adopters of social media tools with a Facebook fan page, Twitter account; blog and customer forum.
As soon as you land on their Facebook page, their one line bio – Kuch Hatke Choose Karo – catches our attention. The page boasts of a sizeable 956K strong community.
The page is updated twice to thrice a day and it is only these two updates that go out every day with a sprinkle of self-promotional updates here and there in a week.
Cleartrip has used Facebook for increasing the conversion rate heavily. Cleartrip used Custom Audiences to maximize revenue from its popular flash sales and achieve a 2.5 times higher return on ad spend.
Using Facebook’s 2-part strategy, Cleartrip ran link ads in the mobile and desktop News Feed to drive people directly to its website and attract them to its flash sales.
In the second part, Cleartrip used Custom Audiences to retarget website visitors who didn’t take advantage of the offer. This 2-step strategy helped Cleartrip maximize its conversion rate.
Its strategy of driving people to its website—and then retargeting those who didn’t buy the first time— achieved a 2.5 times higher return on ad spend compared to the previous year.
“Making Travel Simple” greets you to the Twitter page. The content is entirely different from Facebook. While the Facebook Page talks about travel, the Twitter account talks of tech & business! The brand ensures 14K followers over the platform which are taking solutions of their problems and giving valuable suggestions over the same platform.
There are many travel enthusiasts on Twitter but Cleartrip seems to be tweeting to please the tech crowd instead. They are doing a kickass job with their customer service. Prompt response mixed with a warm and friendly attitude has ensured that the queries are resolved asap and the conversation ends on a satisfactory note.
The YouTube channel of the company is filled with TVCs and business reports. Videos can be a great boost for brands in the travel sector. It has around 13K subscribers on the platform.
Cleartrip on LinkedIn has around 25.5K followers. The brand updates its requirement for employees over the platform to interact with the followers. However the posts are not frequent but it is quite very much responsive.