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Monday, 10 May, 2010, 15 : 00 PM [IST]

‘Ezeego’ing the marketing puzzle

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In 2006, Cox & Kings Limited launched what it coined as a neutral online market place called Ezeego1.co.in, with a mix of online and offline business model. After this Ezeego1.co.in soon moved to pure online play as per the market conditions and requirements in India, and is now one of India’s leading and innovative travel Meta search engine. The portal always considered new and sweeping trend as an opportunity instead of a threat. Having achieved vital differentiation, the Meta search engine is now looking beyond the traditional marketing tactics to augment its scope of relevance by engaging the traditional world at large (sub-agent network). Ezeego1.co.in is taking the initiative to create an accessible marketplace rather than acquire inventory by itself. Presently, the portal lists every possible travel product required by an Indian traveller for domestic and international travel, thus offering all travel services onto a single platform.

Leading-edge approach
Setting the wheels of growth in motion, Ezeego1.co.in focused on introducing innovative and contemporary business and marketing strategies. In 2007, the portal launched ‘Ticket pe Ticket’ (Buy one get one free ticket) concept which was untouched by the Indian travel industry. The portal tied up with GoAir to launch ‘Ticket Pe Ticket’ offer which was funded from a special promotional budget created by Ezeego1.co.in. Neelu Singh, COO, Ezeego1.co.in said, “We observed that retail sector in India was offering ‘one + one’ schemes and earning good profits through high volume sales. Thus, we thought of testing the model in travel industry. We introduced our ‘Ticket Pe Ticket’ offer with an aim to build new market for aviation sector along with encouraging Indian travellers to book online. However, we also got a negative wave of thoughts from offline travel industry as they thought we were threatening their business. However, we believed in innovation and growth of the industry and carried out such offers and schemes from time to time.”

To further enhance and attract travellers to book online, the portal clubbed air and hotel products. Thus, on booking, a minimum two nights’ hotel stay worth Rs 2999 per person on twin sharing basis, as well as one was entitled to receive a one way GoAir ticket free per person. Later, the company tied up with various Indian carriers to launch joint promotions for similar offers. Slowly, it started offering ‘Cash backs’ on air, rail, bus and hotel bookings to attract and encourage travellers to the online space.

Marketing the right way!
According to Singh, particularly in the tight economy, making a commitment to effective marketing that produces sales is far better than pulling in marketing budget and riding out the storm. Ezeego1.co.in believes that tough times are historically excellent opportunity for expanding long term market share and revenues precisely when other players in the market are cutting on their marketing budgets. “During tough times, travel is one of the first thing people cut on. Travel companies need to come up with innovative and attractive products which seems ‘value for money’ to the end consumers. During the recent recessionary times, Ezeego1.co.in constantly offered discounts, cash backs and free offers which aimed at increasing sales online,” added Singh. The company also introduced ‘Home based Agent’ concept to increase offline presence and sub-agent network in India (after pulling back its offline shops). It started offering ‘Value adds’ to its network of sub-agents to provide cross-selling opportunities, henceforth increasing sub-agent network along with home-based agents.

Now, with Indian travellers getting active on social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), most of the sectors are trying to build their brand through these sites. Singh said, “Since the last couple of months, we have become active on Mouthshut.com (a social networking site) and have received good response and feedback about our services from its members. Now we are slowly getting active on Twitter.com and Facebook.com to enhance our brand identity and increase our brand awareness. We aim to use UG (User-Generated) and social marketing which in turn will influence our sales.” The portal is also getting active on the online marketing front.

Way ahead!
The portal has created an open market place, allowing flexible pricing by principals and travel agents alike and opening new vistas of revenue for the traditional travel agent – all of this echo the imperatives that an OTA in general needs to incorporate to cinch sustainability. It is now moving ahead with new aspirations and motives. The portal recently introduced women-only tours called ‘Planet Diva’. It has also launched a ‘My Gang’ platform where women can advise the company about their travel preferences and the company will team them up with like-minded women. Singh said, “There is a demand for women-only tours and due to the new lifestyle choices that women have, they prefer to either travel alone or with like-minded women only. These are not group tours but FIT packages specially designed for them.” The portal also entered into a joint alliance with Reliance Big TV to offer discounts to their customers on holiday packages, international air tickets and DTH connections.

With a focus on pure online play, Ezeego1.co.in is moving ahead with huge potential and concrete plans. It intends to further redefine the matrix of marketing travel products by introducing and experimenting with innovative ideas of selling ‘travel’ to the potential travellers.
 
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