What are the odds of watching television and never having come across an ad by Trivago with its distinct, prim hair and moustache-donning spokesperson Abhinav Kumar asking questions of the \u2018Kya aapne kabhi hotel online search kiya hai?\u2019 variety? Both Kumar, country head \u2014 India, Trivago and the brand\u2019s advertising have achieved virality with high decibel campaigns. Its advertising strategy, irrespective of the target market, is to remain largely educational and leverage the value proposition that most customers look for. A majority of consumers on Trivago\u2019s India platform are between 28-35 years, commonly from cities like New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. As per a Google-BCG report, the Indian travel market is expected to grow at 11-11.5% to reach $48 billion by 2020. The report notes that pricing (including deals\/offers) continues to be a key driver to encourage bookings at 33% followed by good reviews at 17%. Brand specific searches stand at 10% with cancellation policy at 8%. Location, staff quality and facilities each see 6% consumer preference. Kumar believes that despite the presence of others players in the market, the larger problem of finding an \u2018ideal hotel\u2019 remains unsolved and will continue to remain a core focus area for Trivago. India, for Trivago, falls in the Rest of World (RoW) segment, within which, Kumar informs, the most significant of revenues comes from Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand and Hong Kong. The global story It isn\u2019t all fun and adventure for the Germany headquartered Trivago. Globally, 2017 saw the brand publicly acknowledge that its high voltage advertising was not in line with Return on Advertising Spend (RoAS). Recent quarter results (April-June) have seen the revenue taking a hit as it went down to 235 million euros \u2014 a decline of 21% y-o-y compared to the same period in 2017. As remedial measures, Q2 of CY 2018 saw Trivago make \u2018significant\u2019 reductions in its ad spends. Ad spends during this period were brought down by 25% in the US, by 25% in developed Europe and by 2% in RoW. In the same period, Trivago\u2019s selling and marketing expenses were brought down by 17% on a y-o-y basis to reach 209.8 million euros of which 92% accounted for advertising spends. Conversely, qualified referrals (QR), which is a unique visitor per day that generates at least one referral, saw a jump in the RoW segment as these markets saw increased advertising spends in the first quarter of the year. The brand\u2019s advertising strategy is data driven and dynamic in nature. It has chosen to create ads in-house. \u201cWe are continuously testing the educational template for our advertising, as well as a few emotional templates,\u201d says Kumar. \u201cWe see what the audience likes and follow their lead.\u201d For India, Trivago will continue focussing on personalising the search experience for consumers. This, Kumar says, need not be limited to finding the best deal but should accommodate various facilities and services as a part of the travelling experience. The company does this by matching individual traveller preferences with unique hotel characteristics such as price, location, availability, amenities and rankings, etc. Seeking experiences Trivago has little to no control over the actual experience a consumer will have at a property. Ujjwal Chaudhry, engagement manager, RedSeer, notes that going beyond converting the captive audience, the larger challenge for Trivago will be to create and sustain consumer loyalty. This is in addition to not being able to curate an experience. \u201cIf you book a room from say, a MakeMyTrip (MMT) and your experience is not positive at the property when you arrive, to some extent you will blame MMT as well,\u201d he says. \u201cMMT has, in the past, taken steps to address some of those issues. Their hotline and Assured Hotels Service is an example of that. Trivago does not have any control on the experience part.\u201d Filters are hygiene to online travel booking or even hotel booking in particular. To further personalise the hotel experience, Trivago aims to provide lesser common filters such as airport shuttle, gym, hairdresser, etc. AI-assisted search will play a major role in this. The company is currently testing results of this exercise across markets and may launch it in India as well. While the macro picture for the travel and tourism industry looks promising, for online travel aggregators (OTA), direct bookings with hotels may be something they may want to lure consumers away from. KPMG-FICCI\u2019s Expedition 3.0: Travel and Hospitality Gone Digital finds that for the large hotel chains in India, the share of direct bookings has increased from 50% to 60-65% over the last few years.