MakeMyTrip unveiled its new brand-advertising campaign on Monday. Through this brand repositioning exercise and the new tag-line ‘Dil Toh Roaming Hai’, MakeMyTrip intends to be travel partner that fuels the growing travel ambition of customers at large. Saujanya Shrivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, MakeMyTrip spoke to exchange4media about the new businesses in the travel domain and continued endeavor of the company to oversee recent diversification into offering travel solutions. Excerpts:
What triggered the repositioning?
We have transformed our positioning in response to changing consumer culture so that we are able to walk shoulder-to-shoulder &fulfill the growing travel desires of our consumers. Qualitative research sessions in the last few years highlighted that “Travel is no longer an annual event”. We want to take category-ownership by growing the category and encouraging people to travel more. For this, we needed to intervene much earlier in the travel-planning cycle. While “Memories Unlimited” helped us own the ‘Travel & On-Trip memories’ aspects of the travel value chain, we saw an opportunity in taking a pole position in being an inspirer of travel. Thanks to our rigorous focus on periodic insight mining studies, we unearthed some key insights which were the starting point of our brand campaign journey. It led us to reflect upon the changing nature of travel category and the role should we play as a market leader.
The insights were that in an increasingly consumerist Indian society indulgence is not seen as a bad thing. “Experience” is the new currency of indulgence, and the new success indicator. Experiences make people interesting – you are remembered more for the stories that you tell rather than the badges you wear. Specific to our category, consumers are looking for a trusted travel partner who can fulfill their travel ambitions, while remaining value conscious. They are seeking inspiration, choice, convenience and control – something than an Online Travel Operator is best-equipped to provide.
What are this year's growth targets?
Powered by the smartphone and mobile internet revolution, India's online travel market is poised for the next phase of hyper-growth. As category leaders with unwavering focus on Technology and Innovation, we are best equipped to capitalize on this opportunity. We are focused on delivering best-in-class solutions for creating customer delight and thereby catalysing the offline to online shift. Our offerings intend to make the travel-research and purchase experience more convenient for customers.
We have been tracking well on our goals for FY 2014-15. In our last Quarter Earnings, we improved our annual revenue less service cost guidance to a constant currency growth of 30%-31%, which is in the range of $137 million to $138 million.
What are the new businesses in the travel domain that you would enter?
This year we will dedicatedly focus on new user acquisition, regional expansion and enabling discovery –all of this on the back of strong tech intervention, mobile innovation & superior & differentiated product road map.
Our new TVC, ‘Dil Toh Roaming hai’, showcases how each one of us has a wandering heart with many latent travel desires. MakeMyTrip as the co – conspirator seeks to inspire consumers to give wings to their growing travel ambition. This will not only expand the travel category, but also catalyze the offline-to-online shift. As a result of this philosophy, MakeMyTrip intends to be travel partner that fuels the growing travel ambition of customers at large.
In 2015, we want to strengthen our dominance in business. Hotels & Packages (H&P) is a strategic focus area for us and the H&P business displayed over 70% growth in transactions in the past Quarter. This has been a result of our all-around efforts in making improvements in every lever of the business. From a Hotel customer’s online experience standpoint, we have improved the speed of the shopping experience by reducing data entry where ever possible. The H&P business displayed over 70% growth in transactions in the past Quarter.
Vernacularization will take centre-stage in 2015, in line with the philosophy of offering customized service and experiences. There is tremendous potential in vernacular content and MakeMyTrip is also investing in creating vernacular travel-booking services. For instance, In October last year, we introduced India’s first flight-booking service in Hindi on our mobile site and we will extend these vernacular services to other languages such as Gujarati, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam in 2015.
Technology is at the heart of what we do. We are focused on using our Technology edge to build innovative offerings and create customer delight. We are catering to customer needs across screens – mobile and web. In fact, we build products with a mobile-first approach to ensure a flawless and delightful user-experience. Therefore, over the last couple of years, we strengthened focus on the mobile channel as a growth driver. As a result of our early focus and investments, we became the first Indian OTA to launch an iPhone app, and showcase a comprehensive set of mobile solutions – ranging from a WAP and touch mobile site as well as mobile apps for Android, iPhone, Windows and Blackberry. To date MakeMyTrip has close to 7 million app downloads. Over 40% of total online monthly unique visitors come to MakeMyTrip via mobile & Mobile represents 20% of all online transactions. Mobile contribution to traffic (visitors) grew from 20% in 2013 to 33% in 2014.
Please share the specifics of the new marketing campaign?
MakeMyTrip has been instrumental in changing the way India travels. With the widespread adoption of Online Travel, it was imperative for us as the category leader to unearth a deep-rooted customer motivation and strengthen our association with customers.
The campaign has been conceptualized with the objective to strengthen the brand’s connect amongst existing travellers and drive its adoption among new consumers. Through this brand repositioning exercise and the new tag-line ‘Dil Toh Roaming Hai’, MakeMyTrip intends to be travel partner that fuels the growing travel ambition of customers at large. In other words, our new campaign is aimed at encouraging people to give in to their latent travel desires while MakeMyTrip makes the entire researching, planning and buying experience convenient and personalized through its suite of solutions (such as Route planner, Do It Yourself Holidays and mobile app), content (blogs, reviews and testimonials) and offerings (hotels, direct charters, holidays).
The new-age traveler is seeking choice through multiplicity of options. We are cognizant of the importance of range and choice for today’s travelers and our new brand positioning is a clear acknowledgment of this reality. Our new TVC, ‘Dil Toh Roaming hai’, showcases how each one of us has a wandering heart with many latent travel desires. MakeMyTrip as the co – conspirator seeks to inspire consumers to give wings to their growing travel ambition. This will not only expand the travel category, but also catalyze the offline-to-online shift.
The campaign will establish MMT from being a provider to a knowledgeable and inspiring partner. MMT believes that consumers harbor many holiday ambitions in their hearts. The brand wants to expand the concept of travel beyond a once-a-year family activity by nudging less-frequent travelers to give into their hearts’ wanderlust.
Please share your recent diversification into offering travel solutions.
MakeMyTrip has been instrumental in changing the way India travels. MakeMyTrip as the co – conspirator seeks to inspire consumers to give wings to their growing travel ambition. In line with our new positioning, Make My Trip is focusing at encouraging people to give in to their latent travel desires while making the entire researching, planning and buying experience convenient and personalized through its suite of solutions (such as Route planner, Do It Yourself Holidays and mobile app), content (blogs, reviews and testimonials) and offerings (hotels, direct charters, holidays).
Over the years, the company has attained its leadership by achieving strong growth in all core business segments. We have witnessed healthy growth for our Holiday business for travel within India and internationally. From a Hotel customer’s online experience standpoint, we have improved the speed of the shopping experience by reducing data entry where ever possible. We have also invested in enriching the customer’s online hotel & holiday research and purchase experience and we are witnessing results in terms of increased engagement and transactions. On the mobile front, we have enhanced the hotel booking experience by adding ‘Instabook’, a fast and painless payments feature initially launched for our flights business. Additionally, we are also utilizing the GPS coordinates from mobile devices to provide smarter and more targeted hotel deals notifications.
When we did our IPO (initial public offering) five years ago, about 85 per cent of our revenue came from air ticketing. In FY 2014, Hotels & Packages (H&P) represented 38% of our overall net revenue (while air-ticketing share was 58%). In first half 2015, this share stood at 45% while share of air-ticketing revenues was 51%. So, we are progressing well on our stated objective of optimizing our revenue-mix.
We continue to invest in Hotels & Packages business. At 200,000+ listings, we have the largest inventory of global hotels among OTAs in India. We strengthened our portfolio of Hotel offerings in the South-East Asia region through two key acquisitions in 2013 - Hotel Travel Group and the ITC Group in Thailand. With the acquisition of Easytobook.com in 2014, we expanded our presence beyond South-East Asia. More recently, we acquired certain assets of Mygola.com to focus on cutting-edge innovation in online travel. This acquisition has been done through the company’s earlier announced Innovation Fund which has been formed to invest in start-up or early-stage companies in the travel technology space. Through this innovation fund, last year as well we bought a 25% stake in Bangalore based digital hotel marketing solutions firm Simplotel.
Mobile will continue to drive the growth of the OTA industry. Mobile bookings will soon overtake bookings through other devices. SMS/messaging-platform based booking services are taking off in China, and perhaps a developer or entrepreneur will find a way to create a market for this in India. Wearable Technology will enhance the traveller experience, enabling them to find “just-in-time” deals and handy information when they land in a city.
At MakeMyTrip, one of our key priorities is to build products that simplify travel for our customers. Constant innovation in terms of technology and products is a big focus area. As the coming years shape up, we will continue to innovate with our packages basis customer feedback and market research.
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