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Ease in visa regulation has made travelling easier: Arun Rawat

28-September-2017
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Ease in visa regulation has made travelling easier: Arun Rawat

Skyscanner is a global travel search engine which provides deals to users through their website and mobile app. It entered the Indian market in 2011. Arun Rawat, India Marketing Lead, also known as the Senior Growth Leader of Skyscanner, spoke to Exchange4media where he said, “A brainstorm session between friends and founders, over drinks in a pub, led to the creation of Skyscanner.” He also shared his views about its acquisition by Ctrip, challenges and the diversity Indian tourism offers.

Excerpts:

Tell us more about Skyscanner and how did it all begin.

Interestingly, it was our co-founder Gareth William’s frustration in finding economic flight tickets that led to the inception of Skyscanner back in 2001. What started out as a simple Excel file has become the go to tool for travelers over the last decade. Skyscanner compares flight, hotel and car rental prices for over 60 million travellers each month.

Last year, Skyscanner merged with Ctrip, the largest travel company in China. How is the company doing after the acquisition?

With the acquisition by Ctrip, we’ve reached the market leader status. It helped us grow and take the business to the next level with greater product innovation and development. Skyscanner will remain operationally independent and continue to deliver the Skyscanner products which travellers love.

What percentage of revenue comes from the Mobile App as compared to web?

With over 60 million app downloads, our users on mobile accounted for 61 per cent of traffic in 2016.

What makes Skyscanner different and unique?

The Skyscanner app searches 1000s of travel agents and airlines to find travel options allowing instant comparisons of flight, hotel and car hire prices. As a tech company, we invested heavily in the latest technologies and pioneer innovations in the travel search space. Last year, we were the first meta-search to release a Bot for Facebook Messenger followed closely by another one for Skype. We work closely in the field of Voice Search, AI and NLP
(Natural Language Processing,) releasing skills for Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana.

Our proprietary technology powers travel search for over 1200 partners and connects them on a single platform. While creating the interface, we kept in mind consumers’ real-time issues to provide end-to-end travel solutions. This resulted in some of our unique features such as the ‘Search Everywhere’ option that acts as a guide for users who are budget intensive or the ‘Cheapest month’ option that maps out flight fares throughout the year helping users to the best deals available.

How does the Indian tourism industry differ from rest of the world?

India has secured its position as the seventh largest travel and tourism economy as reported by World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) this year. Indian tourism has stood out for its diversity in landscape, culture and economic options.

Travellers are never lost for options here whether it’s a luxury holiday, budget backpacking, scenic beaches or majestic mountains. This definitely sets India apart from the rest of the world. Additionally, with the ease in visa regulations and growing e-visa partners, travel to and from the country has become easier and approachable.

What are the major challenges you have faced?

While I would consider strong market dynamics and constantly providing incremental value to the users on advanced and personalized platforms as some of the challenges for us, I would also like to point out that we take these as opportunities to localize our product even more and to provide higher value add to the users. We strongly put the user first in everything and work towards achieving a single goal.

Being a travel search engine, what are the key areas you focus on to develop or promote a new campaign?

All our campaigns are designed to find solutions to traveller problems. This year, we launched a holiday planning tool to help travellers plan their trips around public holidays and minimize the number of annual leave days taken.
Another would be the monsoon travel-planning tool, a visual asset we created to tell users of the ideal monsoon destinations and provided information on the best time to book and visit, along with precipitation information. Our campaigns content is always based on data and provides inspirational travel goals with actionable outcomes for travellers.

What are the changes you have noticed in marketing in the last few years?

Marketing has undergone a major transformation over the last few years especially with the Internet economy taking center stage in multiple industries. It’s no wonder that digital channels are growing at a tremendous rate providing a plethora of data. We use the term ‘Growth’ instead of ‘Marketing’ to symbolize the single focus of individuals and teams associated with the function. We believe in data driven experiments to validate learning and scale successes for sustainable growth.

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