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ibibo crafts new biz streams riding on mobile

While the Narendra Modi-led government is riding high on the achievement on the Digital India Week and large-scale investments from technology driven companies, the Indian marketing industry, especially in the services domain is still skeptic on its impact on the business.

In a conversation with Digital Market Asia, Ashish Kashyap, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ibibo Group, online travel services aggregator shared what is lacking in the India industry and, how the evolution of mobile has helped businesses grow.

“The government hasn’t done much yet except seeding the idea of digitisation in India. However, the impetus was provided by the increase in shipment of number of smartphones to India in the last one year. Beyond current manufactures there are many new players who have joined the smartphone market in India,” observed Mr Kashyap.

Enhancing the mobile experience
ibibo Group attributes a large part of its success to the mobile wave as close to 60 per cent of its transactions for hotels are conducted through mobile. “Further, 94 per cent of our total mobile transactions are through our native app platform and the remaining 6 per cent through the mobile browsing platform,” added Mr Kashyap.

Mr Kashyap acknowledges that the hotel audience is arguably more digitally evolved than its counterparts in other categories and the sector hence witnesses increased mobile adoption.

Following its hotel bookings, mobile is witnessing maximum traction from bus booking followed by air ticket booking. In April 2013, the mobile traffic was just over 5 per cent but it increased by December 2014, recording over 2 million downloads for its app and 35 to 40 per cent mobile traffic.

In the mobile space, its 10-month old mobile-only product, goCash, has also seen traction on back of smartphone adoption growth in India. The application allows loyalty based referrals to customers or refunds in case of cancellations. “We have seen 70 per cent of our daily customers accessing the wallet everyday in some form or other. Also, the stickiness to our platform on personalisation has increased two folds on back of the wallet, “according to Mr Kashyap.

The service portal is not just porting its desktop experience to mobile but creating a complete personalised experience for the user. “We are treating mobile as a unique ecosystem where we want to leverage the attributes of mobile such as camera, location feature, storage, etc and give the user a personalised experience,” Mr Kashyap said outlining the mobile strategy of Ibibo group.

Employing marketing muscle
In sync with the market practice employed by ecommerce players such as Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon, even ibibo has launched campaigns which prompt customer to download its mobile application. “When it comes to downloading an app from Playstore there is always a barrier which we have to cross. So, we realised that we have to add a significant value to the app to incentivise the consumer to download the app and access the services via the app platform on mobile,” explained Mr Kashyap.

Stating its latest initiatives, Ibibo has launched its ride sharing application. “ibibo ride is a mobile-only application. It allows you to share a ride with different passengers from one place to another and it also allows you to view the social profile to your fellow passengers. Going forward, we are planning to scale this application further,” said Mr Kashyap.

Commenting on the relationship between OTAs (online travel agencies) and hoteliers, Mr Kashyap summed, “There are large hoteliers that invest in technology on their own and are able to get bookings on their platform directly but there is a mid-tail of hotels which is very large in number. These players have not invested in technology and travel aggregators like ours help them with technology assistance and other cloud services, which eventually help them in driving consumer to their hotels.”