Albert Dias, Co-Founder, Marketing and Technology Director at Musafir.com chats with Travel Daily India
about the company focus on the Indian market…
Please throw some light on Musafir.com presence in the Indian market?
India was the first country outside the UAE that came to mind, especially since two one of my co-founders and I are Indian. We see strong opportunities for growth with the country’s increasing Internet penetration and rapid adoption of online travel booking. We’re headquartered in Mumbai, but offer our services across India with seamless support through our toll-free contact center. We currently offer flights, hotels and holiday packages online in addition to other travel services that we offer through our Travel Experts.
What kind of investment will the company incur for the growing Indian market?
We have an INR100 crore investment commitment to build our presence in the Indian market. We’re looking to build a strong base of travellers in year one and aim to become a top 5 OTA by 2018. We’ve begun promoting flights to build initial scale, and we plan to tap into mobile travel bookings followed by tailored holiday planning in the year ahead.
What is the strategy you are looking at adopting in the market?
We’re looking to encourage travellers to try Musafir at this stage with our pan-India marketing campaign. Our key focus areas in 2014 will be retention, hotels and tailored holiday planning, for which we have two product innovations lined up in the year ahead. We’ve gained several insights into the behavior of Indian travelers over the last few months and aim to use them to continually sharpen our strategy as we progress.
Which two new product line-up are you looking at introducing this year?
We’re looking to roll out a tailored holiday planning tool to help people plan every element of a holiday on their own terms while still taking advantage of the best deals. Plans are also afoot to roll out a new user experience on the website to drive our focus on hotels and retention.
Other plans for this year include launching our mobile app in early 2014. We are also studying the retail market and looking at options of opening retail outlets across India, however we have not made any commitments at this time.
How do you plan to promote ancillary products to the online consumers?
We intend to run two promotional campaigns to coincide with the launch of two new ancillary products we’ll be offering along with flight bookings on Musafir in the year ahead. These promotional campaigns will be launched in mid-to-late 2014.
With a strong fan following of Sachin Tendulkar, how has the brand ambassador benefited Musafir.com?
Sachin embodies the trust and inspirational performance that every new player aspires to achieve. The initial results from our launch campaign have been very promising, especially in how Sachin’s character has helped break through clutter and how his values have helped shape the perception of Musafir. We intend to establish our brand with a through-the-line media campaign built around the trust and longevity that Sachin Tendulkar stands for. We’ve seen a 13x increase in visitors to Musafir since the launch campaign. Sachin is an active part of our brand value and we will continue to engage audiences through his superior customer connect.
What other marketing strategy do you plan to implement for the market?
We’re using a mix of tactical and strategic promotions such as seasonal discounts and partnerships alongside our brand campaign to build a strong base of travelers in our first year. As a latest entrant in the market, our initial focus will remain customer acquisition and exploring various channels for the same. We will also deeply focus on consumer analytics and segmentation to come up the learning curve quickly given the speed of our industry and the constantly changing media dynamics. Mobile is another area which we will be focusing on in 2014.