Cleartrip has launched an imaginative campaign that steers away from typical discounts and pricing conversations. Named ‘Invest in Travel’, this message focuses on the importance of investing money into experiences with friends, family, and significant others to create unforgettable memories. Through Cleartrip’s online platform, you can make these investments without breaking your budget!
In the Indian travel industry, there’s an abundance of competition that promotes their brand messaging through cheap prices and package deals. This is almost a given in terms of marketing strategies for online travel agencies (OTAs). However, Cleartrip has gone against this approach with its latest campaign – straying away from the mundane narrative heard so often in this sector!
Our campaign paints ‘travel’ in a brand new light – one that positions it as an investment, instead of the usual perception of it being an expense. We used three advertisements to illustrate this concept; each features a male protagonist who encourages his mother, wife, and son to invest their extra funds. Eventually, he is astonished to find out that they have all put their money into travel through Cleartrip!
Through its comic set design and sharp dialogues, this film conveys a powerful statement – that investing in friendships, pleasure or love is not an unnecessary expense. It’s an investment that will ultimately pay off!
These ads deliver a whimsical, parodic twist to the ubiquitous fintech commercials that encourage investments by proclaiming ‘it is not subject to market risks’.
During the pandemic, no other sector suffered more than OTAs. With people stuck at home due to government restrictions and health protocols in place, traveling felt like a distant dream for many. This extinguishment of the travel industry caused an insurmountable plunge for all related businesses.
With it only being a year since the pandemic wreaked destruction, Cleartrip’s latest campaign suggests they may have adopted a new approach to their philosophy. Could this be their response to how the events of 2020 affected them?
Shubham Khurana, Cleartrip’s brand head, discussed the struggles experienced by OTAs during the coronavirus lockdown-
“It’s fair to say that the first COVID wave in March 2020 took the entire travel industry by surprise. As an industry, we were not prepared for what turned out to be a once-in-a-century disruption. Overnight, the entire industry went to zero revenue, when the country went into a complete lockdown, and it was a double whammy because costs spiked massively, as customers started reaching out to us in massive numbers to handle queries, cancellations and refunds.”
During that period, Cleartrip encountered its own troubles. Khurana has stated-
“As a brand, Cleartrip wasn’t doing enough at the time. We were not talking enough to the consumer. Somewhere in that journey, the out of sight became out of mind, and that did hurt the brand.”
To mitigate the effects of the pandemic, Cleartrip was forced to lay off 500 employees. Subsequently, in FY20, its revenue remained stagnant at Rs 318 crore while incurring a loss of Rs 14 crore. Thankfully things took a turn for the better when Flipkart acquired it in 2021 with their purchase valued at $40 million. Since then they have been working diligently towards restoring and strengthening their identity as an agency.
“We re-focused on what we stand for. We knew we wanted to build the brand around the four key pillars – trust, transparency, simplicity, and affordability. We spoke to our consumers, our employees, and the industry to understand what are the gaps in the market to assess the customer pain points and accordingly arrive at the parameters we should focus on”.
Khurana explains the driving force behind the campaign, noting that it originated from an important insight: “Investments can be a major deterrent to travel in much the same way sleep is for binge-watching Netflix.” He further adds-
“Travel is often considered an ‘expense’. It’s ironic, as when you travel, you invest time with your loved ones in experiencing something new. You invest in memories, friendships, desires, bonds, thrills, and more which, one may argue, gives you better returns than any investment possible. Hence, it’s the ‘only’ investment that isn’t subject to market risks.”
With their unique and unconventional messages, the ads draw attention to discounts and different cost-effective choices. Khurana also stated-
“We aim to disrupt the OTA space by ‘differentiating on value and experience while maintaining parity on price’. Great offers on flights and hotels are one way to give consumers value. We’re reaching out to three key target groups – people with an intent to travel, students, and senior citizens.”
Cleartrip is certainly aiming to differentiate itself from the competition. Only time will tell if their efforts are successful in enticing people to travel and invest once again.
Shivendra Tiwari is an Engineer and an MBA in Marketing. He is the Content head at Marketing91 and a thorough Online Marketing enthusiast. Shivendra loves to follow different brands and study their Business and Marketing tactics.