On the day Google, Jet Airways and ibiboGroup launched the Flight Search feature in India, that promised to make the experience of travel seamless, faster and easier, Cleartrip looked to add ‘perspective’ to the product keeping the reality in India in mind.
Here are some points highlighted by Subramanya Sharma, Chief Marketing Officer at Cleartrip:
1. We think this will have limited success in the Indian market, as the consumer pricing on the air market is fairly homogenous across airlines & OTAs. Also, most of the trusted OTA service brands are not present in the Google Fight search product and hence the service outcomes for consumers might be different from what they have experienced so far.
2. At a product experience level, there are still some gaps
a. India is mainly low cost carrier model, and many airlines like AirAsia, Air Costa etc.. are missing.
b. India is also a point to point pricing market. E.g “Consumer can pick Indigo on one leg and Spicejet on another”. In this product, the consumer is forced to pick the same airline on both legs for LCC’s. So might have repercussions on pricing.
3. From an advertiser standpoint, there are long term cost implications participating in a platform such as this. The cost of acquisition will be far higher in a meta marketing model as compared to a distribution model.
4. Four years ago, people termed it as OTA killer wherever it launched. But nothing has changed – interface, market share etc has pretty much remained the same.
Sharma also propounded some of Cleartrip’s strengths:
1. We have built our brand based on a strong product & service experience, and we will continue our investments on the same, without worrying much about external environment. Similar projects have been launched earlier (Kayak, Google Hotel finder etc..), but they have been met with limited success as we have kept raising the bar with respect to the consumer experience.
2. We have focussed our energies on mobile (irrespective of whether hotels or flights), and we will continue to do so. 50% of our traffic comes from mobile, and we are focussed to better that experience every day. In a mobile centric world, it will be tough for Google to keep the pace of good mobile experiences across its publishers/advertisers and hence consumers might suffer.