When the CEO of a travel site decides to co-produce a Kangana Ranaut starrer...
An interview with Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-founder of Easemytrip, where he tells us about how he came to co-produce a Kangana Ranaut film
In an interview with exchange4media, Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-founder of Easemytrip, speaks on entering Bollywood, India going cashless, the future of digital travel and his upcoming film, Manikarnika starring Kangana Ranaut. Edited excerpts:
Does franchising help you to expand business?
Yes, definitely. When we started our business in 2008, we focused on a franchise model. At that time we adopted a different strategy where we contacted cyber shops, local vendors, and coffee shops for increasing footfalls. We have seen good results and we found working with channel partners is always profitable. It not only helps you to expand business but also reach out and connect, which is the main reason to partner and channelise growth.
How is Easemytrip different from its competitors?
Well our travel offerings make us unique, another one is transparent and dedicated services. One such example is a convenience fee, which is charged by most of the companies present in the market, but we don’t believe in that. We don’t wish to burden our customers for the same thus we do not charge any convenience fees which straightaway gives the benefit of Rs 200-300 to the customer.
Another example is that of our call centre. We have an in-house call centre so when a customer is calling, he is not talking to a call agent, he is talking to an EaseMyTrip direct employee. Most importantly, the transparency in transactions, interactions and maintaining a relationship is what has helped us reach where we are today.
Why did Easemytip foray into the film business?
We wanted to explore other markets beyond travel and realised that there is a lot of potential in the Indian film industry, which has not yet been explored completely. Tourism and films are connected to each other. They both have an impact on the audience and both create memories to cherish lifelong. So it was easy to make a choice. In fact tourism through films have a bigger impact if done wisely like the Switzerland in Yash Raj films, Spain through Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and recently Khatron Ke Khiladi on TV and more. So thinking on those lines we first took the production rights of Madaari, a subject based film where we were travel partners. The response was encouraging and we had a great experience. From there, we went on to the distribution of films, production and now we are co-producing Manikarnika, which is a big budget film. We really think that our expertise from travel background and our capabilities to turn any business into a profitable one, give us an edge.
Makemytrip and Yatra have a strong presence on television, how do you plan to counter this?
We have been doing promotions on TV, but we used a bigger medium for promotions as we wanted to carve a niche for ourselves. We used Indian films as a platform for promoting the brand, we are producing big budget films like Manikarnika, where we are putting in so much effort to be visible in a prominent manner. We have done a TV campaign on NDTV 24x7 recently, we did banner ads on DTH platforms like DishTV and Airtel. We were partners in IIFA as well, where Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif and other celebrities talked about EaseMyTrip.com. Also, we are coming up with more B2C campaigns that will have the right mix of all mediums, not just TV.
Any plan to launch a TVC?
Yes, it is there in the pipeline and we will surely come up with an interesting TVC soon.
In 2016, tourism contributed around 9% to India’s GDP, do you see any improvement in this figure post demonetisation and GST?
According to data, Travel & Tourism generated INR 14.1 trillion in 2016, which is the world’s seventh largest in terms of absolute size, the sum is equivalent to 9.6% of India’s GDP. Additionally, the sector supported 40.3 million jobs in 2016, which ranks India second in the world in terms of total employment supported by Travel & Tourism. The sector accounts for 9.3% of the country’s total jobs. After the government implication of GST, the Tourism sector is most likely to pick up. The benefit is that multiple taxes will be replaced by one single tax. The sector may benefit in the form of lower tax rates, which should help in attracting more tourists to India.
Do you have a loyal customer base? Can you share some details of how much of the footfalls on your site actually turn into transactions?
Yes, we have a loyal customer base which is definitely our plus point. Out of website traffic we have a conversion rate of 12-15% and those who have done booking from our site have booked more than twice from our website, which is a great achievement for us. We can proudly say that once a person has visited our site, he will definitely visit again because of the unparalleled services that we offer.
Do you see online travel agencies as a growing market in India?
Online and digital platform is the future of India. With the emergence of plastic money, digital transactions and use of digital platforms for business is going to help the OTAs expand their reach to tier2, tier 3 cities in India. Now there will be volumes in business and there will be transparency in business, which will further boost sales. We really appreciate the Government’s efforts to make India a cash-free nation by introducing so many policies for digitisation of businesses, which is definitely going to benefit our industry in the long run.
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