Kunal Dubey of Cleartrip on the tourism industry and the route to restoration

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People usually link “Tatkaal” tickets with railway tickets and India’s glitchy IRCTC booking system. Cleartrip is changing that. Cleartrip  Tatkaal attempts to gamify airline and hotel reservations. Using a promo code, people may get 50% off daily midday reservations on Cleartrip Tatkaal.

The corporation devised in-house marketing to promote Tatkaal. Both commercials mention ‘wonderful news’ – pregnancy in one, business investment in the other. Cleartrip’s CMO Kunal Dubey suggests a digital-first campaign over Zoom. Since most platform users are digital-first, it makes sense to target them online. “The campaign is 80-90% digital, and we didn’t promote on IPL this year.” Connected TVs (CTVs) are gaining popularity. Our TV commercials reach more users.

Dubey believes Cleartrip has 25-30 million CTV viewers. Travellers are no longer apprehensive, he says. They’d rather travel. Last year, travellers were hesitant to book because of last-minute alterations. Now, travel planning is more straightforward. I expect more travel. Increased staycations.”

Dubey notes that airlines operate at 90% capacity compared to pre-COVID levels, indicating rising demand for road trips, flights, and air travel. Hotels are also witnessing pre-COVID demand, he says. Tourism and hospitality are encouraged. “People used to plan one big trip or vacation, but that’s changed. Shorter, more frequent journeys are expected. Weekends and extended weekends are more crucial than ever for travellers and the industry. Not just domestic travel is growing. International travel is growing. Domestic travel is 98% of pre-COVID levels. Many countries have lifted travel restrictions to the Maldives, Middle East, etc., and we see demand,” says Dubey.

Travel may be leisurely or business-related. Dubey says B2B and business travel are bouncing back. This category grew faster than leisure travel. Cleartrip competed with MakeMyTrip, GoIbibo, EaseMyTrip, etc. Cleartrip competes with offline travel agencies that book tickets for a charge. Dubey says the environment hasn’t altered despite the outbreak. The firm competes with both booking methods. Users may book tickets via airline websites.

Pre-pandemic, people choose between similar-looking services based on huge discounts, but not anymore. “Brand trust is everything. If they don’t trust a brand, massive reductions won’t work. He notes that the booking, cancellation, and flexibility of tickets are also necessary. Digital marketer Dubey thinks the trust-building method applies to any online service or business. He’s worked with Vedantu, an ed-tech platform, PhonePe, a digital payments service, Flipkart, and eBay India (as head of brand management).

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