india online travel agent, inspiration at work, make my trip,, mmt

Put Your Heart Into It…

… is what you would see at the entrance of MakeMyTrip office; a hearty thought. There is something special about my former employer, MakeMyTrip, a start-up and the pioneer of travel distribution in India.

My folks would ask twice (on an average), when I told them where I work and what I do there (Mak-My Trip, Make Me Trip some bizarre versions)…. E-commerce was new (well in 2004, not that new, as people bought books and cds on Indiatimes), and internet was buzzing. The bunch MakeMyTrip reflected this enthusiasm. Here’s my recollection of the spirit, in pictures and worth 1000 words ( roughly 500 words for amateurs photographer such as I)…

1. Productions (Modern Ramayan would certainly feature): A general feature at the makemytrip offsites. We would normally run out of scripts and would finally resort to the good old “Modern Ramayan”. The one in picture was staged in the serene locations of Malaysia, and one of our better productions. (featured in the picture from left to right is Deepender Rawat, Jasmeet Singh, Jitu, Mayur Oberoi, Amit Saberwal, Swapnil Gupta & Sidharth Grover).

2. Offsites: At least twice in a year. The best part of the offsites were the interesting stories after offsites…

3. Visiting Cards: People could find our names (Oh I see your email ID, but where is your name) and didn’t read the personalised interests. This would be one of the best B-Cards that I have seen till date…

4. “Trip with us” Wall Collage: is right at the entrance (I’m placed in Ethiopia)…

5. Meeting Rooms: Nicely adorned with the sign “Trip in Progress”, where we “aimed” and “shot down” our competitors.

6. Festival celebrations: Colorful and full of zest. Not to forget the fountain in front of the office which was used extensively for Holi.

7. Painting and Wall Hangings:
Some of these done by us at MakeMyTrip (the one on the LHS)…

8. “365 Days to Visit when you are alive” Notebook: True to it’s name, took almost 365 days to finally print, but worth the effort. Each page had esoteric destination. Featured in the photograph is the Co-founder and CMO, Sachin Bhatia…

The only thing more important than the bottomline at makemytrip was celebration. It was a good trip!

Dushyant,,, Social media, social media marketing, social media strategy,

I’m Your Friendly Neighborhood- TravelWebsite

The genesis is interesting. During one a gyan loaded knowledge session with an agency, I realised that some of the points are worth considering. And so did I, after 3 days, started thinking on social media, community, travel application et al and collected some of these threads (at the fear of loosing them).
First some usual stuff about the social marketing buzz. It is fashionable to be on Facebook (the no of fans decides the success) and twitter (“how many followers you have dude”). Undoubtably, Social media marketing is the most potent jargon to get attention in seminars these days. Truly, there isn’t a dearth of social media evangelists.
Also some and fact (as a marketer)- there are handful of successful case study on the subject of social marketing. Social Media does gives an opportunity to interact and engage with the consumers (for the first time in history of marketing real time) but will you as a marketer consider as an arsenal to drive your campaign. How much time is required, is the next question and “no” is decisive answer for this question as well. And the performance benchmark? Social Media doesn’t have all the answers as of now.
Evangelist would differ, and are hopeful, they would say (Starbucks has 3.7 mln & Coca Cola has 3.5 mln & Facebook 4.4 mln fans on Facebook as we speak). Is the number of Fan the only performance benchmark?
Well all that is ok, but where does social media feature in online travel, where the bread and butter (for majority of vc funded travel site) is traffic acquisition and its performance. Online traffic needs to have a healthy ROI. Each channel is measured. So, where does the social media fit in with limited credentials as a case study and with no estimate of time and resources.
So coming to core of my thoughts. If I were to have an objective for social media plan around travel what will it be? To be on facebook and get million fans, to be on twitter and get million follower or to start a blog and get zillions of people to recommend…
Nice start, but not enough. The objective should be derieved out of the service offering, business goal and brand gene/goal. It may sound simple, however difficult to execute. Starting conversations is not easy.
At the cost of being repetitive, the idea should be to get the social media flywheel going (Dave Evan’s). This is the magic of social media, where for the first time marketers can actualy work in complete circle. Unlike earlier, as in tradional marketing, the cycle doesn’t stop with campaign and stimulus. The responsiblity of marketing goes overlaps with operations, encourages recommendations by the users and in process creates brand advocates. The vetran social media strategist Chris Bogan, calls them as trust agents. His mantra is to use web to create influence, improve reputation and earn trust.
Travel is no different from this global approach. Ideally, if the brand can convert more and more people into ambassadors, the brand will witness positive effect on conversions. There has been some activity around this…
1. has Offisial (, holiday promotion platform) with a fan page and makemytrip on twitter
( Check out the Anthem on; it’s a complete riot! Some work in the category.
2. Cleatrip: Innovative in social marketing sphere. Quite active on twitter and facebook. The Kiruba incidence has put their recognition right there.
3. Travelocity: is driving the social media through “The Roaming Gnome”. (He was in San Diago yesterday with an interesting video)
4. Expedia: Some presence here and there, but the focus is not as pointed as cleartrip or travelocity.
There is also example of Cleatrip is clearly the thought leader in the travel vertical and is doing a commendable job from marketing perspective. Right from the corporate blog, to twitter presence and the interacting with the fans, Cleatrip has it act in place. The updates are regular, informative and entertaining. Cleartrip is setting a great precidence and creating a web of social interactions through conversations, leading to relationships.
Maybe a lot of thinking and now a time for to act!
PS; Check out Fan page of Lord Ganesha on the Facebook
Here’s a great list of travel twitter apps from PhocusWright blog.
ECOmmerce, ETailing, Global ECommerce Reports, IAMAI,, Nielsen Global Online Survey, Online Classified, Online Industry, Online Subscription, Yatra

The Nielsen Global Online Survey

I was generally surfing for articles on general trends and direction on eCommerce and how is it shaping up in India. The good news is that the picture is rosy, which is no different to what you would have heard elsewhere. Its not a new news. Consider this, Indian internet space is real hot, has 37 Mln users, which is a good number (compare this to China with over 100 Mln and US 150 Mln). A robust Indian financial system makes it lucrative for eCommerce growth.

Our central body for internet and mobile- IAMAI B2C reports that eCommerce is expected to cross Rs.9000 crores (USD 2,250 Mln), a 30% growth over last years figures. Travel is the biggest driver of eCommerce and accounts for Rs.5,500 Crores (USD 1372 Mln). OTAs (like & Yatra), Tour Operators, Hotels and Railways, form this category. It is needless to say that travel as a category renders itself to online medium seemlessly. The next biggest contributor is online eTailing, where the total size is 850 crores (USD 212 Mln). Online classifieds contributes 540 crores (USD 135 Mln) and online subscription making up the rest of 20 crores (USD 5 Mln).

Rosy picture indeed, when you consider that our huge base of middle class spending
population of 300-450 Mln is still untapped.

Neilson Global Online Survey corroborates this fact. According to the report that it
released on 28th Jan, 2008, over 875 Million Consumers Have Shopped Online — The Number of Internet Shoppers Up 40% in Two Years. Clothes/Shoes were the fastest growing Internet buys and “Visa” was the Most Popular Credit Card Payment Method. Read the full report here.

Another extract from the report is the following- among Internet users, the highest
percentage shopping online is found in South Korea, where 99 percent of those with Internet access have used it to shop, followed by the UK (97%), Germany (97%), Japan (97%) with the U.S. eighth, at 94 percent. Additionally, in South Korea, 79 percent of these Internet users have shopped in the past month, followed by the UK (76%) and Switzerland (67%) with the U.S. at 57 percent.

Credit card is the most preferred mode of payment ( more pronounced in Asia and Latin countries). Turkish online shoppers (who represent the economic elite in that country) topped global rankings for credit card usage (91%) for online purchases followed by 86 percent of Irish online shoppers and 84 percent of Indian and UAE online shoppers. The report further says, “Shopping on the Internet with the ease of a credit card is especially appealing to consumers in emerging markets who simply cannot find or buy items they want in their retail trade. The Internet has opened up a whole new world of shopping for these consumers”. There is a list of online shopping sites covered in the study.

How much ever good we might feel reading the numbers, the fact remains that internet penetration has plateaued. The total eCommerce relevant TG will be 5 Mln, which is only 10%. The month on month growth is dismal. Broadband coverage is not increasing as expected. Moreover, the language websites is not taking off in a big way. Till the next wave comes, we will witness only organic growth.

Do let me know your thoughts and comments on this subject.