Cleartrip is one of the forerunners of the online travel and hospitality industry in India. Aditya Agarwal, Head, Corporate Strategy, Cleartrip, spoke to BE’s Ankit Singh.
Q. Tell us about the business model of Cleartrip?
A. We are a technology company. We have been around for 14 years and are a relatively evolved company compared to early phase start-ups in the hospitality sector. We are presently market leaders in many countries including India, West Asia, and Africa. We started when the aviation market was opening up in India and a massive offline to online shift was happening due to increase in internet and smartphone penetration. These two factors have contributed significantly in the last one and a half decade. The principle of the company and the tagline have been to make travel simple. Our business model is essentially driven on providing the best user experience, making things seamless for our customers, and facilitating transaction on our platform. That is how the revenue is generated and our business model is linked to bookings and transactions happening on our platform. Our objective and vision is to be the platform of choice for all travel related needs of our customers across the world.
Q. What is the USP of the company?
A. Our USP is that we have been at the forefront of technology and innovation from the get-go. We have never done any advertisement because we feel that comes in the way of the customer experience. Cleartrip has been the first company to introduce features like one-touch payment, online cancellations, and amendments, and booking of activities and experiences in the wider consumer driven internet ecosystem in India. Also, companies like Apple and Google have partnered with us in the past.
Q. How do you ensure customer satisfaction?
A. Customer experience is the main pillar of our existence. When we design the product we put ourselves in the customer’s position and try to build our features as simple and intuitive as possible. We have access to 300,000 hotels globally and customise and personalise the search result for every customer and for every transaction in order for the users to see 5-10 of the most relevant results based on what they are looking for. Once the booking is done, we are still there to handhold our customers if there are any problems. As this is a complicated industry and sometimes things can go wrong from the airline end or the hotel end, we are always there to stand behind our customers to solve their problems. We make sure that the customer has the best experience. Our differentiation is how we approach our business when we build our product by keeping the customer at the centre of everything which leads to features like personalisation.
Q. What are the areas covered by Cleartrip in the online travel business?
A. There are two main dimensions on which the company has been built. One is geographic expansion and the second is the product. We are the only travel based company which has been successful not only in India but also outside India. We have achieved the status of being market leaders in four of the eight countries that we are currently operating in. Travel is a global sector as people travel globally. Being present in multiple markets globally gives us a big edge over other companies by enabling us to provide better content, better pricing, better service and better options to our customers. On the product side, we have a whole range of products starting from the flight which happens to be the biggest product of the travel industry and for us. We have also pioneered online booking of trains and buses. We have moved into hotels and packages and have started weekend getaways. Our recent launches have been covering travel activities and experiences. We have also gotten into ancillary services like travel insurance and visa processing especially for West Asia.