We are pleased to introduce a new section – “CXO Speak”, where we plan to bring forward to you insightful interviews from CXOs across corporate institutions and startups. We debut this with ‘Mr Rikant Pitti – COO & Co-founder, EaseMyTrip.com’, where he talks about branding, marketing and communications initiatives he drives to distinguish their venture amongst hoards of new startup featuring almost every day.
1) What makes easemytrip.com unique from other players offering similar solutions?
EaseMyTrip doesn’t believe in selling travel products/solutions but tries to create incredible memories. As a reliable travel player, we salute the spirit of travel and make every journey interesting and rich in experience. We are a travel agent but we call our office a travel lab where constant research and innovation persist to deliver better services every time. Being a responsible travel agency, we encourage our customers to interact with our highly efficient travel executives and give them adequate time to think best about their vacations. EaseMyTrip.com gives them chance to invent unique vacation and indulge into complete satisfaction. We also provide our customers full support, if they want to edit, reorganize or recreate their travel plan. All travel players offer similar products but we stand apart by generating a lot of information for the travelers and offering them special holidays.
2) What are the branding and marketing initiatives you have taken in the past to promote the portal and which were the ones that worked and why?
EaseMyTrip.com is using different kinds of platforms for its branding and marketing. We are using several social media platforms like Facebook, Linked-in, Google+, Twitter and more for creating our brand awareness. We are also using Google Adwords to make our presence on different web pages of World Wide Web. These ads on Google have helped us in reaching to 80% of the individuals using internet for booking travel products & services. Along with that, we are also advertising through newspapers and TV channels. Our regular advertisements can be seen in top newspapers of national level and well-known travel magazines. We have also sponsored several Bollywood events and become travel & promotion partners in various movies. Our communications team is widely spending on television commercials. Nishant Pitti, CEO & Co-founder of the company has also co-produced a Bollywood film – Mumbai 125 KM in 3D. Other initiatives that we are taking are mailers, flyers, hoardings and more.
3) What is the outlook for the next 3 years for your business and what change in customer behaviour you see coming in near future?
One word that defines the whole travel industry in general is ‘convenience’ and modern traveler is becoming more convenience freak by the time. Therefore, we are focusing on providing more convenience to our customers in coming years. We have targets to expand our business in Tier – 2 and Tier – 3 cities of India by opening our franchises. There are also plans of establishing EMT Holiday Hubs in metro cities that can help in increasing revenues from Non-Air Products. This way, we can serve the customers with efficient & cost-effective services. A great change that I am currently witnessing in customer behavior is that they are very much aware and not ready to compromise on their comfort. Traveling has become a passion for them and this passion is growing with the time.
4) What role public relations have to play in promoting a portal such as yours?
Public relations play an important role in stimulating the public’s desire to travel by attracting them to buy/book different travel products. Beautifully written travel articles in magazines or newspapers by PR practitioners indirectly affect the behavior of customers. Talking about a well-arranged trip or informing about any offer or discount on certain services appeals them and works for the publicity of travel portals like mine. More often than not, if travelers ask travel agents for guidance, PR professionals may advice. Public relations have helped us in planning new marketing strategies or notifying our new initiatives to our customers.
5) Has PR been any beneficial to you? Do you ROI from your investments you have made in PR?
Definitely, PR has been beneficial for us, as it has increased our chances for growing as a more potential travel company of India. No matter, how good you or your products are, but recognition is only gained if they are properly advertised. PR works silently and you may think that return on investments is not coming from it but it helps you in getting identification. Our PR professionals have helped us through various activities and made us participated in many important media events. Therefore, we have become much popular by the time. However, giving exact figures of ROI in PR will be a difficult task.
6) In burgeoning online world and with an online offering, what the different means of communications that works best in reaching out to your customers?
We are using almost every possible means of communications but television and printed publications work the best to reach out a huge number of customers. Sending mailers on their email-ids also work efficiently, we get mounting traffic on our website, and huge number of queries generate in our mailboxes. However, print media is still ruling and working as the best means of communication to reach out our target audience.
7) As an entrepreneur what are your key expectations from your in-house communications professionals or consultancy you have partnered with?
Our in-house communication professionals are experts of their field and they take every step that can help in our brand building. I want them all to focus on modern methods of communication and they can approach more clients through different PR and brand awareness activities. They should attend every event or gather information about all happenings that can affect our business.