Mobile may soon outpace desktops in India as the preferred way to book travel and Cleartrip clearly seems to be out front in its smartphone platform.
Author: Dennis Schaal
Cleartrip, the India online travel agency, says its newly tweaked mobile site is the only one in the country to offer a comprehensive array of international flights and hotels.
And, as part of its mobile hotel offering, Cleartrip has introduced Quickeys, which is good for same-day or next-day hotel bookings at negotiated rates said to be 30% off published rates. That service is currently available in about 40 destinations.
In contrast, competitor MakeMyTrip’s mobile site doesn’t do much in the way of international flights, offers holiday packages by email, and provides no standalone hotels.
And, MakeMyTrip’s Blackberry app is for flights-only plus restaurant listings, with no hotel choices.
Hrush Bhatt, Cleartrip co-founder director of product and strategy, says flights are booked on mobile through the platform while hotel inventory, obtained through direct relationships as well as from the Expedia Affiliate Network and GTA, are done mostly through phone calls.
“Our approach is not to get too far out ahead of the curve,” Bhatt says.
He says Cleatrip launched its mobile site two years ago as a “completely bare-minimum product” with domestic flights only, and now is “investing aggressively” in mobile.
Mobile is really taking off in India, where people can purchase unsubsidized smartphones from Chinese and Indian manufacturers for around $90, Bhatt says.
When the mobile site debuted two years ago, it took about 100 days for its flights to become 5% of Cleartrip’s overall traffic, Bhatt says.
But, it took only five days since the launch of global hotels on mobile in late June for it to translate into 5% of Cleartrip’s traffic, he adds.
Many of the mobile bookings come from business travelers, says Bhatt, adding, “a lot of people are making late bookings.”
In the U.S., Expedia and Priceline, for example, tell a similar tale about their booking patterns on mobile, with many hotel bookings taking place when travelers already are nearby.
“Sundays on mobile happen to be the biggest day and most of the people are booking for Monday,” he adds.
For the Quickeys hotel feature, available on desktop and now on Cleartrip’s mobile site, too, the company viewed it as a way to take much of the pain out of the hotel reservations process.
In fact, in India, some 30% to 35% percent of hotel bookings come through walk-ins. “It’s not a pleasant experience,” Bhatt says.
With Quickeys, travelers can make reservations for that evening as late as 11 p.m. and there is no limit to the number of days they can stay.
With mobile in India, it appears as though its potential has few limits, as well.
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