Make Your Travel Booking Marketplace the Favorite OTA for Activity Hosts & Tour Guides

Make Your Travel Booking Marketplace the Favorite OTA for Activity Hosts & Tour Guides

As a travel activity booking marketplace, you ought to target tour & activity vendors, i.e. tour operators, activity hosts, & guides before travelers. In fact, to increase their reach, these hosts & operators continuously look for different distribution channels. And mostly, they rely on OTAs (online travel agencies) or online travel booking marketplaces.

According to a Trekksoft study, on an average, activity hosts receive 20% more bookings after partnering with OTAs. Also, about 22% of them say that OTAs or travel booking marketplaces bring them more than half of their bookings. In urban areas, these numbers are even bigger.

It is clear that there are loads of opportunities for OTAs in the market. But there’s intense competition that must be dealt with. To help you on the matter, here are some data-backed insights & executable tips that will help you become the favorite of activity hosts & tour guides.

Provide What Activity Hosts Want

The chart above pretty much solves the riddle as to what activity hosts & tour guides expect from a travel booking marketplace. While all the above-listed factors are important, it is clear that first two are simply the must-haves for your OTA.

It makes perfect sense that the volume of bookings is the top most factor. To achieve that you need to ensure certain features & capabilities on your travel booking website. These are:

  • SEO-friendly website for higher ranking – since most travelers start planning their travel via Google search
  • Social media integration for easy distribution – so that vendors and visitors can easily share listed activities/tours etc.
  • Good user experience – because how easily getaways can be found & bookings can be made makes a lot of difference
  • Easy mobile bookings – since 1 in 2 travel booking journeys begin on mobile

And as for the credibility, you need to ensure that you have transparent pricing & partnership policies. Besides that, over time, the above-listed features to boost the volume of bookings will also help build credibility for your website.

Related read: Launching a Travel Booking Website? What Features You Must Consider

Plan Commission Rates Thoughtfully

A recent Trekksoft survey found that about 80% activity hosts/guides/tour operators say that they are willing to partner with OTAs only if they charge commission rates less than 15%. Usually, a 15% to 20% commission charges are considered fair in the ecommerce sector; so it’s not much that activity hosts are asking.

That said, it may not be feasible for a growing business to manage with only that much commission. In that case, varying commission rates can provide a viable solution.  Here are some ideas in that regard:

  • Charge new activity hosts with less than standard commission rate for a limited period of time
  • Plan different commission rates on different activity categories and for different types of hosts/operators (such as rural/urban)
  • Offer reduction in commission rate after certain sales/booking milestones

It is also worth noting that, if your booking marketplace is able to deliver enough volume of bookings to the hosts, they will stick with you, since about 71% hosts believe that commission rates are fair based on the delivered results; in urban market, 89% vendors think so.

Proactively Solve Challenges Faced by Vendors

The above pie-chart gives us a clear picture on the common challenges faced by travel activity vendors when partnering with booking marketplaces. Let’s address them all, one by one.

Loss of traffic

The first (and apparently the biggest) concern that activity hosts have is that partnering with OTAs results in loss in traffic on their own sites. A quick fix to this is to add a fallback link for the vendor website on the pages where their activities are listed on your marketplace.

Also, if we look closely, it shouldn’t be that big of an issue for two reasons:

1) Only a small segment of activity hosts have their own website

2) Hosts/guides get much better market exposure through marketplace listing.

More work; fewer bookings & High commission charges

We have already addressed these challenges in the first two section of the post.

Maintaining Live Inventory & Lack of Appropriate Categories

Solution to such operational issues is to simply build your travel activity booking marketplace on a state-of-art platform (such as FunAway, offered by FATbit), which offers features & functionalities to proactively address these challenges.

Learn from the Market Leaders

‘Follow in the footsteps of the successful ones’ – a rule of thumb applicable across all walks of life, and extensively used in the business world. Therefore, it is always a good idea to look up to the market leaders (even competitors) for some ideas & inspirations.

Learn from the Market Leaders

Viator, GetYourGuide, & Expedia are clearly the worldwide leaders. Other than these, some other emerging OTAs that operate in specific markets like Peek & Vayable are also worth considering.

Check out the features they offer to the hosts. From sign up to listing tours/activities and payment processing, analyze everything to see what makes them popular among hosts & guides. Stay updated on the upgrades they make in their system, find out how they devise their promotional offers, study their software suite for vendors, follow them on blog & social networks, and so on.

All this is not about copying what they are doing, but to get inspired, brainstorm & implement similar cutting-edge ideas that can help you get ahead in the race.

Conclusion

Besides the mass of activity hosts & tour guides looking for more distribution channels to grow their business, there’s also a huge untapped inventory for OTAs to thrive upon, as only 40% of travel activity hosts & tour guides worldwide are listed online.

To capitalize on these opportunities, you need to provide an online platform that not only offers services better than others but also motivates activity hosts to take all the advantages they can get by partnering with an online booking marketplace.

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How Should Ecommerce Businesses Approach Different Customer Types

How Should Ecommerce Businesses Approach Different Customer Types

Every second customer is not the same, with each having their own individuality. In the current market dynamics, ecommerce marketplaces should also have a marketing strategy keeping in mind the diversity among their prospective customers. Generally, we can classify customers into two categories based on their shopping behavior and customers’ relationship status with the ecommerce website.

Shopping Behavior

Shopping behavior refers to the way a person likes to shop from an ecommerce store. When we analyse the shopping behaviour of the customers we can easily categorize them. Let us take a closer look:

1. Product Focused: The ones who know what they want. They don’t like to search for other options until or unless, the item they want is not available, then they will go for the item that is closest to their first choice. For them, all that matters is how quickly and easily they can buy it.

How to Approach Them: Speed is the key here. You want pages that load fast, images that are clear and of high quality, descriptions that are detailed and accurate, and a streamlined checkout.

2. Browsers/Butterflies: This particular consumer group is probably the trickiest one to get hold of, but not the hardest by any chance. The primary reason for us saying so is that just like butterflies, people belonging to this customer group like to surf on various ecommerce websites and see who’s offering what. May be they are looking for a travel booking site with amazing packages, may be they want to see what all activities they can indulge in after reaching their tourist destination. They are more or less like window shoppers. You never know, they might be on your website only to kill time, and this is where the trick comes into play.

How to Approach Them: Make an offer they can’t refuse. Leverage their interest to know what’s new, and show them exactly what they want: latest items and offers. Give them a good browsing experience.

3. The Choosy Ones: Choosy buyers are very particular about what they want to buy and from where they want to buy. They also pay special attention to what other customers have to say about something of their interest. Their planning to buy something begins with researching for days, weeks, and sometimes, even months. They want details, and they want facts. Nothing short of it will suffice for them.

How to Approach Them: Their buying behavior revolves around descriptions; use it for your benefit. Be descriptive about your products, be eloquent. Mention all the details of the items, add product images and videos, add user reviews and ratings. Make sure your details are not biased, because the choosy customer group can find out all the pros and cons of a product.

4. Bargain Driven: This is another interesting consumer group because for them, bargain doesn’t always mean discount. Yes, these people are attracted to discounts, deals, offers and vouchers, but that’s not all they want. If they see they are entitled for free shipping after making a purchase of a certain amount, they’ll be happy to pay. When they know a combo pack offers a better deal, they’ll buy it even if they don’t need the other items.

How to Approach Them: The first and foremost thing to do is to tell them how much discount you have offered. Display the original price, the current price and the discount a customer gets (in percent); highlight discounted items in the catalog. As we mentioned earlier, entitling them to free shipping will also motivate them to buy more.

5. One Time Visitors: One time visitors may be visiting your website for numerous reasons, and they can belong to any of the other consumer groups too! May be they came to your website because you have exclusive rights of selling something that they want to buy, may be they received a discount coupon for your website, or may be stumbled upon your website while searching for a particular item. Thing is, the reasons can be many, but most of one time buyers face a common problem: the compulsion of registration.

How to Approach Them: First of all, let them checkout as a guest, don’t force them to register at your website. True, it will only make them enter all their details again, if they revisit your website to buy something, but give them the freedom to choose. It’s about giving them a user experience that will make them want to come again, to become a registered user.

6. Impulsive: This is one of the most interesting consumer groups you can ever come across. You never know what makes them an impulsive shopper, but one thing is for sure, once they know they want something, they’ll find it any which way possible. This particular consumer group belongs to various other groups; researchers, butterflies, bargain buddies, you name it, and you’ll have them anywhere, and everywhere. They may just want to have that white shirt, or maybe the shoes they were looking for are now available for a discount. May be they came to your store because the phone they wanted to buy is available at your store only. So, you know, impulse knows no bounds, and neither do the impulsive buyers.

How to Approach Them: The first thing you need to focus on is a clear design with easy navigation and quick checkout. The quicker you can move them through the checkout funnel, the better.

7. Cautious CODs: This is one consumer group that we like to call “once bitten, twice shy”. Otherwise a bunch of amazing people, customers belonging to this group have a hard time making online payments, no because they don’t know how, but because they don’t want to. They don’t mind paying a few extra bucks for cash on delivery, but they don’t feel like giving their personal and financial details.

How to Approach Them: We are sure you’d have a secure and sturdy ecommerce website. Even then, to establish more trust and sense of security among this consumer group, it would be a good idea if you flaunt your security seals, keep you webpages simple and easy to the eyes, and refrain from using too many marketing messages.

Now that we have understood how people of different shopping behaviors like to carry out their shopping and how to approach them, it’s time to see how a customer’s relationship with an ecommerce business affects the methodology to approach them.

Also Read: 101 Actionable Tips From Experts On Running An Ecommerce Marketplace

Customer Relationship Status

As the name of the category suggests, we will proceed with the details right away:

1. Potential Customers: Also known as the lead, the potential customer is one who has a high probability of bringing revenue and adding value to your business. The cutthroat competition going on in the ecommerce industry doesn’t allow any room for losing on a potential customer. They are here, at your website, because they feel you can give them the user experience they’ve been looking for.

How to Approach Them: The best way to convert them is to give them the value you promised. Be it your services, your website’s ease of use or anything, they are here because of a link that intrigued them.

2. New Customers: New customers are mostly the ones who you were able to convert from potential ones. In other instances, these are the people who just happened to use your website for shopping once and happened to like it. You get a new customer when the potential customer bought something from your website and generated revenue for you.

How to Approach Them: The first thing to do is to thank them for choosing you. Give them a token of gratitude, a coupon, discount of some sort that they can avail on their next purchase. It’s also a good idea to give free shipping for the first time. Giving them an amazing experience will keep them coming for more, which brings us to our next kind of customer,

3. Loyal Customers: This is one consumer group that we all absolutely love, and yet most of us make a mistake of taking them for granted, don’t we? These are the amazing people who keep coming back to the same website to buy anything and everything they want. We also call them repeat customers, and yet, many of ecommerce website owners forget to appreciate them.

How to Approach Them: Give special rewards to these consumers. Give them a bigger window for festive discounts. A good idea would be to let them avail the offers before you launch them for everybody else. Giving them special treatment will make them feel appreciated and they’d like to stay with you.

4. Lost Customers: The user group that ecommerce businesses lost because, well, either they couldn’t convert, couldn’t offer a good user experience consistently, or because some other e-business gave them better deals and offers. For any reason, one company’s gain can mean some other company’s loss.

How to Approach Them: It all begins with analyzing where things went wrong. Check your sales funnel to see how many points of failures it has and see how to overcome these issues. Retargeting comes later, as there would be no benefit of approaching a lost customer if you don’t know why they left in the first place. Observe, analyze and plan accordingly. Try offering dedicated promotions to bring them onboard again, and just like in the case of browser butterflies, make an offer they can’t refuse.

Conclusion

Running a successful ecommerce business means you got to keep all the types of customers in mind. An amazing website will be the one that is built around all of these consumer groups. If you analyze carefully, you’ll see that despite the 11 types of customers we discussed, the methods to approach them don’t vary by a great deal. Chances are when you are optimizing your efforts for one consumer group; you’ll be taking care of the other group simultaneously. Device your methodologies, offers and your website strategically, and you can bring them all in to do business with you. Have fun!

What Does The Future Hold for Q&A Websites?

What Does The Future Hold for Q&A Websites?

So what is the most popular website on the internet? Any guesses? If you thought Google, then you are correct. It is basically a search engine which offers answers to people’s queries. Internet, nowadays is used for bulk of things. But the thing that it is used for the most, is finding information.

This brings a business model to the table which revolves around solving queries of the consumers. Many websites have been following the much popular Q&A format for a good number of years now. The most common Q&A websites we know are Quora, Yahoo Answers, Stack Exchange, Stack Overflow, WebMD, and a lot more. While some of them cater to the generic questions like Quora, there are some that belong to a specific niche, like WebMD (medicine).

But the question is, how did all these websites came into existence? What was the need?

It all comes down to what we call “The Issue with Broadcasting for Help.” What happens is when a person seeks help from a lot of people, the concept of responsibility diffusion kicks in. This is a situation when everybody assumes that somebody would have helped, and in the end, nobody comes for help.

Why Are Q&A Websites Popular

The Q&A websites rely on our instinct of proactively answering a query. This may sound quite trivial, but this is the primary instinct of humans that these websites leverage upon. Our primal instincts to communicate and to learn, drives us to these websites. And given the fact that most of these websites have good quality content, our urge to add more valuable information allow us to search for better answers and ways to convey them in comprehensible manner.

Take Quora for example. This website has surpassed all Q&A websites and has become a benchmark for all Q&A websites, but also how they are maintaining high quality content. Their basic parameter for content is BNBR (Be Nice, Be Respectful) and every Quora user has to abide by this rule.

How Do Q&A Websites Work

Whether you talk about a wide spectrum Q&A website like Quora, or market specific Q&A websites such as WebMD (medical queries), Stack Overflow (Technical queries) or LawPivot (Legal query assistance for businesses and startups), the basic model is that the top section is reserved for questions, with subsequent sections for answers. Each answer can either be added as a comment or as a direct answer to the original poster.

Revenue Model

There are primarily four ways in which Q&A websites generate revenue:

  • Advertisement: A time tested method of making money, It requires the ad publisher to strategically place an ad on the web page based on the content on that page. Each click will generate a preset amount of money.
  • Outbound Links: While advertisements are widely used revenue channels, we can’t ignore the fact that many website visitors turn a blind eye to these ads. In-text advertising links, trigger the curiosity of the readers, and many of them will eventually click these links. Including 2 text based links per answer is a good practice.
  • Paid answers: There are some websites that charge a certain amount of money from the users who ask a question. And answer providers are either hired writers, or paid writer who are expert in their respective fields. This revenue model is not used abundantly yet, but things are expected to change with time.

Also Read: Quora Ads- One More Way to Promote Your Business Through Paid Advertising

Future of Q&A Websites

Take a good look around, and you’ll see a good number of people asking a question. Many e-businesses have started tweaking their FAQ pages around Q&A format, while Quora already started testing video answers so that same quality of information can be provided with better understandability and in less time. Most of these video answers are expected to be instruction manuals, user guides, tutorials and things like that. While Quora has witnessed slower revenue generation in comparison to other Q&A websites, what sets it apart is it sponsored questions ad format. This unobtrusive method of advertising doesn’t hinder the viewers’ learning experience. Video answers, on the other hand, are going to improve this experience manifold.

Conclusion

While “a picture is worth a thousand words” holds true on various instances, people have started relying on videos because, well, a video is more interactive and aids in better comprehension. All e-business enthusiasts who love to share knowledge and help people get their questions answered have finally realized how Q&A websites can help them expand their reach. It’s time we start putting our thoughts into actions, for knowledge is something that grows when shared.

Disclaimer: The Blog has been created with consideration and care. We strive to ensure that all information is as complete, correct, comprehensible, accurate and up-to-date as possible. Despite our continuing efforts, we cannot guarantee that the information made available is complete, correct, accurate or up-to-date. We advise – the readers should not take decisions completely based on the information and views shared by FATbit on its blog, readers should do their own research to further assure themselves before taking any commercial decision. The 3rd party trademarks, logos and screenshots of the websites and mobile applications are property of their respective owners, we are not directly associated with most of them.

Content Marketing Strategies For B2B Businesses To Generate Leads

Content Marketing Strategies For B2B Businesses To Generate Leads

B2B businesses wonder if content actually holds the power to generate leads and improve their ROI- well that’s a thing of past. As per CMI only 11% of the B2B businesses are not making use of content marketing as of now. Most businesses have recognized the importance of content and begun experimenting with it to build more connections and generate effective leads.

For those who are still doubtful about the right techniques or fear of spending an absurd amount of time and resources in creating content and planning campaign for different channels, we have put together this list of lead generation strategies.

Email marketing

One of the few online marketing channels that have sustained any type of competition is email marketing. Email has turned 25 years this year, and it still holds the first spot on many of marketers’ lists and lead generation strategies.

The trend most marketers are adopting (due to great results) is marketing automation. Marketing automation tools are hybrid email marketing tools that connect with your CRM to send out effective / highly targeted emails to prospects.

The era of traditional newsletters and email marketing is still here, the race of capturing more data on users and checking user-behavior has made marketers smarter and more capable of capturing a user through their inbox.

B2B Lead Generation Methods

Also Read: How to Use Big Data in Content Marketing for Improved Results

Content marketing: Blogging & microsites

Recent statistics by WebDAM’s revealed B2B marketers who blog consistently generate 67% more leads than those who do not.

Take a hint by this stat that no matter what your business model is, content will always RULE, so plan your marketing strategy keeping content as the primary goal.

To reach the customers directly and to leave an impact on them, these steps can help –

  • Identify the content user wants
  • Create successful content headline
  • Gather data and statistics
  • Write your content and make it in-depth

Next step is- concentrate your energy on promoting your content on the right platforms.

In 2012, Xerox created a campaign, which offered relevant tips for businesses owners.

The results showed that 70% more businesses interacted with the microsite, which led to 300-400% increase in readership. This campaign also added 20,000 new contacts out of which there were 1000+ scheduled appointment. In all, this campaign yielded $1.3 billion in the pipeline.

Given the broad areas of content marketing, a good question is what type of content should B2B marketers concentrate on to generate maximum leads. Look below to know the answer.

Content Marketing Tactic Usage

Also Read: Various Metrics to Measure Content Marketing Success

That said, let me tell you that a good marketing strategy requires a high level of diversity and experimentation to figure out the best opportunity for your business.

Search marketing

According to a survey in 2016, 93% of consumers begin their shopping journey on a search engine, out of which 73% purchase the product/service. Organic search marketing is undoubtedly the best long-term strategy for generating B2B leads.

Here is one case of Hauser-Ross eye institute, Illinois, that invested in local SEO strategy and observed humongous results. Illinois-based keywords were researched to appeal patients, and were strategically embedded in various parts of the site. The overall results were –

  • Revenue boost of over 333%
  • Improvement in ranking for more than 400 keywords
  • More than 50% organic traffic and boost in revenue

Reaching the #1 on Google has become challenging due to the huge amount of competition and content on the internet so search marketing is one feasible way to get there.

Social media marketing

In the 21st century, 40% people spend more time interacting on social media rather than face to face conversation. Exactly why marketing through social media channels is the perfect place to gather your target audience and turn them into leads.

Lead generation through social media is a piece of cake as people readily share their information on social media and these platforms have armed marketer with various promotion strategies. Promoted posts, ads in videos, live videos and a robust analytics system to gauge the difference between paid and free content promotion is there. Just choose a platform and see how quickly your brand image improves.

About choosing a social media channel- one of the biggest mistakes most marketers make while marketing on social media is they try to get leads from the wrong channel. For instance, it is assumed by most marketers that due to the number of users on Facebook, it is the best option, but that is not always the case. The investment must be made only after confirming presence of your potential customers on a platform. To know how brands can make their Facebook marketing campaigns more fruitful, click here.

Lastly, integrate your lead generation strategy

At the onset of a business, experimenting with strategies can help you decide what works and what does not work for your business.

Later, you can use the time and revenue of your business on specifics, to yield high returns and more leads.

The key to generating high quality and quantity leads depends upon the marketer’s inclination towards experimenting with different tactics.

Beginners Guide on Branding That Even Experts Will Find Useful

Beginners Guide on Branding That Even Experts Will Find Useful

If you are not one of those vagabonds with a resolve to completely live off the land, then it is probable that the first thing you use in morning is some sort of a branded product; throughout the day, you continuously use products from different brands; and finally go to sleep in branded linens that are a symbol for comfort and luxury.

We live in a world packed with brands. And the brands we use on daily basis define our lifestyle.

But the overwhelming numbers of brands around us have made them so commonplace that we as consumers hardly ever think about all the maths & science involved behind the making of these brands that impact our purchase decisions and even become our lifestyle statements.

For marketers, trying hands on brand building for the first time, it is important to be aware of these effects of branding on consumers in order to come up with better & more impactful ideas.

Without further ado, let’s move ahead to understand what branding is, why it is important for businesses & how it should be carried out.

What is branding?

The textbook definition says – “Branding is a marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies a product or business and differentiates it from others.”Pretty concise & accurate! But to truly comprehend the concept of branding, we would need more than just that.

A brand is the reflection of the ideology behind a business – what it is, and how it wants to be perceived among its target audience. It is a business’s promise to its customers. And the messages you put across while carrying out that promise – through logo, website, content, ads, promotions,etc. – is branding.

Why is branding important?

From above discussion, it is quite clear that branding creates a unique identity for your business, as well as helps improve recognition in the market. Apart from that, branding brings following long term benefits for your business:

It generates referrals

As mentioned earlier, a brand can become people’s lifestyle statement. And once a business is at that stage of branding, referrals comes as easy as it gets – because people love to tell & show others about the brands they use. And in effect, other people simply begin to desire to have that brand’s product.

People love telling

Image: People love telling about/showing the brands they use

It dictates trends

Branding helps you in turning customers loyal towards your business. When a huge mass of populace is religiously following your brand, it automatically earns you the power to set product consumption trends. For instance, Apple’s minimalism (and its popularity among consumers) has made other smartphone makers to make (and consumers to use and desire) simple & sleek smartphones.

It brings clarity (in workforce’s line of action)

Suppose there are 2 brands – A & B. A is known for high-quality, expensive products & B for low quality, but affordable products. With a clear brand image in mind, it is likely that all of workforce’s efforts will stay aligned in one direction. So, if an employee in B is putting too much time in improving the quality of the product, everyone will know that his efforts are misaligned, since no customer would buy a high-quality expensive product from brand B.

It earns loyalty

Products come & go; CEOs come & go, but brand stays and the customers loyal to it. Over the years, Apple Inc. has created such loyalty among customers by always being clear about its brand value and then constantly delivering it. And as a result, people aren’t just loyal for Apple brand, but are also obsessed with it.

How to do branding?

So far we have only covered the theory concerning branding, which is essential to get your fundamentals clear. But this knowledge will be helpful, only when you can interpret them into their practical implications. In this section, we will cover some branding hacks* (unique branding tactics) that will help you leverage your knowhow of branding in the best possible manner.

* Note that here we will cover only what to do, not how to do; therefore, will not cover basic tips like defining/understanding your brand, creating design/logo, choosing right colors, or the importance of being consistent with your branding.

Celebrity Endorsement

Historically, celebrity endorsement has been one of the most used & more effective methods of branding. However, with constantly growing awareness among customers about the marketing world, it is essential for brands today to be mindful when using this branding tactic.

The trick is simple – partner with a celebrity whose personality goes along perfectly with what your brand offers. For instance, for a sportswear brand it is better to get endorsement from a sports person, rather than an actress or famous business person.

Brand Ambassador

Image: Personality of your brand ambassador should go along with your brand’s values

Event Sponsorship

Sponsoring events is a great branding tactic. Besides spreading awareness & increasing product sales, this branding technique also works effectively in giving your business an edge over competitors, and even to change perception about your brand.

That said, events that you consider worth sponsoring in your industry will not be easy to come by. You will have to compete for them and might even have to spend a good amount. However, whatever the price you pay, be mindful of the ROI on your sponsorship deal.

Co-branding

The whole is the greater than the sum of its parts. – Aristotle

Co-branding (aka brand partnership)– marrying two brands to deliver an enhanced product & experience has traditionally been an effective mean of branding. Sony Ericsson, Mercedes Benz, Hero Honda – are all the products of this branding tactic.

Co-branding is best when you are planning to enter a new vertical or geographic market. The benefits include leveraging partner’s credibility, extended reach, marketing cost split between partners & so on. However, it is also necessary to ensure that your co-branding partnership is win-win for both parties.

Ingredient Branding

How can you make something look bigger?
By putting a smaller thing beside it.

Ingredient branding somewhat works on the above concept. Basically, it involves showcasing a component of your company or a product as a separate brand (eg. Android by Google).This way, having sub-brands, the parent brand looks even bigger on the outside. Besides, ingredient branding also works greatly for the success of the product.

Here at FATbit, we too benefit from ingredient branding for our leading products, such as Yo!Kart – a multivendor ecommerce platform.  In our experience, ever since we have started regarding Yo!Kart as a separate brand, we have been able to garner much better leads for it.

Also read: FATbit Products That Set High Standards for Entrepreneurs, Education, & Future Businesses

Conclusion

A brand is a force that continues to push forth your business even when the people behind creating it are long gone. It is the bond that connects your business & its target audience at a personal level. It can be a lifestyle statement; it can be a trend by itself.

And it is only by apprehending brand in this manner can a business be capable of capitalizing on its power.

How to do A/B Testing like an Expert – A Beginner’s Guide to Improve Website Conversion

How to do A/B Testing like an Expert – A Beginner’s Guide to Improve Website Conversion

A/B testing is one of those conversion optimization techniques – which on one side, has become a favorite tool for marketers with the growth-hacking mindset; but on the other hand, is still being overlooked by a good number of startups.

In its very definition, A/B testing requires testing of two or more versions of a web element/entity against each other to find out the better one. Most SMBs, with their limited resources, find creating & testing these multiple versions of their website, or webpage, or even image – an extra expenditure. They eventually feel content with going ahead without testing variations of the element/entity.

If done right, A/B testing can bring substantial ROI, enough to compensate that extra expenditure of resources. To make sure that your startup does A/B Testing right, here in this post, we will discuss how to reap the maximum benefits from this conversion optimization tactic.

But first, let us quickly go through some basics:

A Few Basics…

AB-Testing-Illustration new

Image: A simple illustration explaining the purpose of A/B Testing

Today, A/B testing is extensively used for analyzing the conversion potential of different versions of landing pages & CTAs (call to action). Besides these, it is also widely used for web copies, emails, and ads (even popular ad networks, such as Google AdWords, provide the option for A/B testing ads by default).

For any startup or marketer, practicing A/B testing for the first time, the key to run more effective & efficient tests is to know which elements to include. Some of the most common A/B testing elements you should focus on are:

  • Headlines
  • Page layout
  • Lead capture form
  • Trust indicators
  • Call to action
  • Content copy
  • Images, videos, and other media content

Pretty much all of these elements will be tested for factors like position, color, font, visibility, & length across different versions.

Now, let’s move ahead & see how experts approach A/B Testing to improve their website’s conversion rate marginally.

Run Tests during Sale Seasons

Sale/holiday seasons are a good time to run your A/B testing campaign as a huge number of customers would be visiting your website to check offers, products, deals, and make purchases. With more customers testing your web-copy’s (or offer, or CTAs, etc.) versions, you are likely to get better results.

To get a clearer picture, consider this – if I were to ask 10 Americans at random, whether they support Trump, it is quite possible that all 10 (or 8 or 9) might say yes. But as I increase the size from 10 to 100 to 10,000 to 1,000,000, I will certainly get a much better picture on people’s opinion.

Test Only Repeat Visitors

This is one way to get more relevant results out of your A/B testing endeavors. But not all might agree with this tactic, since it implicitly means leaving out the one/first-time visitors altogether.

The reason behind implementing this tactic is obvious – you would be enhancing the experience for the customer segment that brings your repeat business and has the highest customer lifetime value (which is apparently the right customer segment to focus on).

AB Test on Repeat Customers

Image: Importance of focusing on regular customers during A/B Testing

Besides, you can run test for both segments separately & lead each segment to their preferred experience. This certainly would require a little bit of extra effort, but will also bring optimum results.

Run Tests for Mobile Separately

When scroll is replaced by swipe, click by tap, & navigation by hamburger menu – customer behavior is bound to vary greatly across devices. In fact, it is quite possible that a CTA button that converts a lot on desktop might also be the reason behind decline of mobile sales. Therefore, it is imperative for businesses to run test separately for the mobile platform.

Another thing web owners need to keep in mind is that conversion rate on mobile is far less than desktop. Reason being, mobile is mostly used for exploring not buying. So, the test cases for mobile should be designed focusing on engagement. Ultimately, it will help improve your overall conversion rate across devices.

Coversion Rate per Devices

Image: Conversion rates across different devices & platform (source: Monetate)

Use A/B Testing Tools

From creating test cases to analyzing their results, today, there are several tools to streamline your A/B testing endeavors & make the whole process quite efficient.

Some of the prominent names in the A/B Testing tools sector are:

For simplicity’s sake, we have listed only a handful of tools with their prime use. To explain which tool is best in which case is beyond the scope of this post. So, we suggest readers to a little research on the matter.

Do Bandit Testing

A quick definition first – bandit testing is a more flexible variant of A/B testing in which instead of evenly splitting the exposure across all versions, the best version continuously gets more exposure than others. Here the image below will clarify it further:

AB Testing vs Bandit Selection

Image: Illustration to show difference between A/B & Bandit Testing (Source: Conductrics)

Doing bandit testing is ideal in situation where you already have an inclination (logical) towards a particular version and it performs well in the initial stage. Referring to the image above, obviously, there is no point in continuing to provide equal exposure to all three options when A is continuously converting better than others.

Also read: 5 conversion rate optimization hacks that you probably didn’t know about

Conclusion

The concept of A/B testing goes much deeper than what we have covered here; plus, in practice, it will bring along much more complex scenarios that what we have illustrated in the images above. The important thing is to move in the right direction and follow smart practices (such as mentioned in the post above) that ensure improvement in conversion rate in the most efficient manner. And that’s what would make your investment on A/B testing worthwhile.

How Digital Marketing Landscape Transformed in 2017 & What to Expect in 2018

How Digital Marketing Landscape Transformed in 2017 & What to Expect in 2018

According to Charles Darwin’s famous theory of evolution, only those survive who adapt to their changing surroundings. In the current digital sphere, most businesses, as well as consumers, have evolved and taken up online channels to interact, which did not exist a few years ago. Those who have not adapted to these online channels have either faded away in history or are on the way to become redundant.

The fact of the matter is that digital marketing has become a necessity for all online businesses today. And with every passing year, it is bringing new paradigms of marketing. Like any past year, 2017 has brought with it a range of digital marketing trends that have changed how businesses reach out to customers in the virtual world.

Let’s dig deeper into the matter & see how the digital marketing landscape has changed in last one year and what to expect in near future.

The fall of Organic Search

Organic search is still the single biggest source of traffic for many big brands as well as an array of online businesses. However, it is facing a stiff competition from paid searches and social media.

Organic search visits has fallen by almost 3% in last one year and the total share of organic search visits slipped to 26% in Q3 of 2017. Although, there is a 9% rise in mobile search visits, but desktop searches fell 10%. This implies that mobile search is on the rise and people are using search more over smartphones. Out of the total organic search visits during Q3 2017, mobile devices produced 54% visits.

Organic search stats

As shown in the graph above, the organic search produced 26% of all site visits in Q3 2017. Interestingly direct site visit traffic share graph was very similar to that of organic search visit share. While many will be concerned that organic search is on a decline, one big reason behind it is that more and more people are searching on smartphones. The overall mobile share of organic search results saw an increase with smartphones producing 43% of the organic search visits in Q3 2017.

Mobile Share

Suggested Read: Mobile SEO in 2017 – A Concise Guide to Rank Higher in Mobile Search Results

CTR of Top Search Engine Ads

Text ads appearing in position one has constantly generated 30%+ non-brand keyword clicks since May 2017 when Google made a change to its Ad Rank calculation. While there has been a lot of fluctuation in the position one, it seems position two and three have seen steady traction overall.

Top of Page Position

The Rise of Social Media

In recent years, there is lot that has been said about the impact of social media in brining traffic to websites. With social media’s constantly swelling role in digital marketing ecosystem, it has been seen that ad spending on social media platforms like Facebook are increasing 40% YOY. The newsfeed of Facebook has one of the highest click-through-rates with brands running direct response focused campaigns.

Social media platforms produced 4% of all website visits in Q3 2017, while mobile devices accounted for three-fourths of these visits.

Social media share

The graph above clearly highlights the rising importance of social media for marketers and how it is crucial for online businesses to have a social media presence. The rules of digital engagement are changing requiring online business to change their strategies.

Mobile share of site

Social media audience size (sector-wise)

Each and every sector has a defined audience and on social media, and it is essential for businesses to take this aspect into account. For example, if your audience is primarily located on Facebook and Instagram, there is no point in spending resources on Twitter marketing.

Average social media audience

When it comes to social media, sports and entertainment sector has the biggest online audience. The audience for this sector is almost equally divided across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The second position is held by media and publishing sector with Twitter being its most popular platform for the audience. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest come at a distant second, third and fourth position, respectively.

Interestingly, consumer goods sector has also seen formidable online presence when it comes to audience, with the bulk of the users on Instagram. This sector has very little traction on Twitter while the rest of the audience is visible on Facebook. The same scenario is visible is retail sector as well, although the audience size is relatively smaller.

Social media engagement ratio (sector-wise)

Although social media audience is a vital aspect to be kept in mind, it is the social media engagement ratio that highlights how well you connect with your audience. For example – you might have 1000 followers on a social media platform, but if you are not engaging with them then the whole purpose of having social media presence defeats itself.

Social media engagement

If we look at average interactions per post per 1000 followers, then consumer goods have one of the highest cross-channel engagement ratios. Instagram tops the chart with the most engagement with LinkedIn and Facebook coming in close second.

Interestingly, finance and insurance have the second highest cross-channel engagement ratio, despite the fact that it has a very less online audience as compared to other sectors. This clearly shows that it is not important to have a large audience but to have an engaging audience.

Out of the top 13 sectors, 12 sectors are those which have Instagram as the top engagement channel. This makes Instagram as one of the top channels for digital marketers when it comes to social media. While Facebook also offers quiet decent engagement, Twitter falls flat as it offers very less online engagement for businesses.

Related read: 6 Creative Ways to Promote Your Product on Social Media

Blogging is becoming one of the essential aspects of digital marketing

The importance of blogging has been documented for quite some time. In the current digital sphere, online businesses can leverage upon blogs to engage with consumers on a deeper level and also increase awareness about their brand. Blogging these days revolves making the content go viral. This can be in the form of traditional content blogs or video blogs better known as Vlogs. In fact visual content has far greater impact in digital marketing than traditional content.

Blogging Frequency

If we look at blogging frequency individually, then obviously media and publishing sector publishes more content than any other sector. In fact, it publishes 10 times more content than Sports and entertainment sector, which comes as a distant second. However, if we look at the engagement of blog being published than sports and entertainment sector has more engagement than media and publishing sector. Every other sector than media and publishing has more social shared per blog posts as compared blogs published than media and publishing.

How AI is Changing the Way SEO is Done

How AI is Changing the Way SEO is Done

Artificial intelligence has always instigated curious minds to dig deeper and see how it works and how to use it to assist humans in the most suitable ways. Come 2017 and Google RankBrain has started making rounds in the web world faster than when it came into the picture in 2015.For now, RankBrain is the closest synonym to AI for search engines. AI has already marked its territory in numerous fields like robotics, customer services, medicine, etc., and now, it is high time SEO also benefits from this marvel. Here’s how AI will change the world of SEO for better.

More importance to visual content for SEO optimization

Sam Mallikarjunan of HubSpot Labs (Head of Growth) said that SEO will be tremendously influenced by visual content in coming years. AI has made search engines intelligent enough to know how to analyze visual content, especially in case of videos. Google SERPs give precedence to YouTube videos, and the introduction of AI has made it possible for Google to display the most relevant videos.

Video SEO will now require a video publisher to optimize target keywords, Meta tags, descriptions, video length, a keyword focused & comprehensible caption around the video because RankBrain can “watch” a video and tell what it’s about.

Content quality, relevance and focus is going to take center stage

A search result is said to be successful when the search intent of the user and the results provided for the search are matched. RankBrain, the artificial intelligence system developed by Google has remarkable content analysis capabilities. It is able to understand the context of content and judges it on the basis of relevance with the search query entered by the end user.

Content has always been the king, but now, the king has to work harder than ever before. Keyword density has been a thing of the past, and has made way for things that are more important for users,things such as keyword relevance, contextual coherence and value. Every SEO project is different, and there is a different strategy to execute each of them effectively and efficiently. Take reference from different case studies pertaining to different projects.

More weightage to real time data

Whether we talk about news updates, weather news or live soccer score, results for these kinds of searches have to be real time, unless asked otherwise. Real time data is a major point to focus on for content publishers. Staying updated with news and curating fresh content on the go is important, reorganizing & revising a pre-existing content is also equally vital.

Now the question comes, “How is AI going to help reorganized and revised content?” the answer lies in the limitations of search algorithms. Algorithms run the same query in the same manner every time. But AI, on the other hand, learns and grows with time and does a better, deeper search and thus is capable of driving better results over time on its own.

Related Read: 5 Technologies that will drive entrepreneurship for next few years

More emphasis on niche specific keywords to avoid misclassification

Certain keywords are broad spectrum, which means that they can be easily used for more than one niche. Regular algorithms have a limited capability of classifying the content as per the niche and sometimes, the user also gets results that are nowhere close to the query.

This is where AI will come to save the day. With deep learning and dynamic content, search engine crawlers are not only going to look for the keywords in the content, but also analyze the whole content for ensuring whether the niche of the content matches with that of the user’s query. This is going to be a major game changer.

Voice search will get smarter

Voice search has always been different from standard web search. Instead of typing “pizza in San Jose”, an iPhone user simply tells Siri to “Call the <xyz> pizza for me” and voila, the call gets placed. Studies say that voice search uses more words in comparison to conventional search methods and has a more conversational approach.

AI based search understands that a user is asking for something specific and thus waits for the user to complete his query. It’s time to amp-up your SEO game around voice searches too, because that’s how things are going to happen. See what keywords people use in their voice search, what words are common in voice as well as traditional searches, and build your strategy accordingly.

No more black-hat strategies

Shortcuts and black hat tricks that were once used by SEO “Experts” are already marginalized by the intelligent algorithms used by Google. However, these algorithms are not fail safe and thus, some black hat maestros are able to leverage these loopholes and trick the search engine.

AI will filter out any scope for outsmarting the system. As a result, long-term SEO efforts that bring out organic results with due course of time are going to stay, and tricksters will be left with only two options: either go white label, or go home.

Conclusion

With the points we discussed above, it is evident that AI is going to transform the way businesses used to carry out their SEO practices. Algorithms only search for the content; AI takes context and relevance into account. Content publishers will now need to build their content keeping RankBrain in mind.The times are calling for a new dawn; make sure you are ready to embark on this journey.

30 Psychological Triggers To Keep In Mind While Pricing Your Product

30 Psychological Triggers To Keep In Mind While Pricing Your Product

The Standard course of action for all consumers when they enter their favorite clothing shop is- they select the best one according to their taste, check the size by placing it on their frame and then turn to check the price of the product.

Not just offline, this consumer behavior applies to online shopping too. When shopping from online store, the price of the product is right next to the product image and name. After checking the general look of a product, price is the next thing that qualifies a product for final purchase. The decision to buy or not to buy a product is taken only after this.

So, before you price a product, it is important to understand some psychological triggers that improve profits as well as customer satisfaction. Following is a list of various kinds of pricing and major triggers (associated with them) that businesses can use to their discretion, as per suitability.

1. Charm pricing

All of us have seen the charm of number 9. Every supermarket store is packed with products whose price ends with number 9. In an experiment conducted by MIT and the University of Chicago, a standard women’s clothing item was tested at the prices of $34, $39, and $42. The item that was sold the most was priced $39, even more than the cheaper $34 price.

2. Round Number pricing

According to strategy business, 57% customers prefer whole dollar amounts (e.g. $10) and 4% are okay with half dollar pricing (E.g. $10.50) Some people prefer simple pricing rather than messy pricing as the latter just distracts and seems unnecessary. The image below depicts why different type of people get attracted to different pricing. If you own a business or are about to launch, you need to understand this about your target audience before pricing your product.

Round No Pricing

3. Syllable

The number of syllables or how we read/pronounce a price affects the decision-making process of online buyer. The one which is easier to pronounce converts better than longer syllable pricing. For instance, among twenty-seven eighty five and twenty-seven sixteen, the latter will convert better as it is easier to pronounce.

4. Anchor effect

Placing premium product (or service) along with standard ones increases sales of the standard option. Customers view the less expensive option as a good bargain (compared to the higher cost product). Selling a $2000 watch is easier when you put it next to a $10,000 watch.

Also Read: 6 Creative Ways to Promote Your Product on Social Media

5. Omit the currency sign or use small fonts

According to Cornell researchers, customers see a currency sign as a metaphor for the pain of spending. Currency sign like $ creates an unconscious cognitive barrier to spending. When the currency sign is present, customer concentrates on the price rather than the product. To increase the chances of conversion, businesses should omit the currency sign completely or keep the font of the sign smaller than usual.

Use Small Currency Sign

6. Think of 3c’s

When you are about to decide the price of your product, put it through the lens of Cost, Customer, and Competitors. Do not let just one factor dictate your pricing strategy. The amount of money you spend to create the product/service, the categories of customer you are trying to sell your product and the price range of your competitors, all must be taken into account. Considering these things, you will be able to come up with the perfect pricing.

7. Odd Numbers

According to a study by Marketing Bulletin in 1997, a consumer prefers to buy products whose price end with odd number especially 5, 7 and 9. If a product is priced $47, customers would readily buy it instead of buying a $46 product.

8. Useless price points

Dan Ariely explains in his theory that a business should try and add a useless option along with their products. While no one will choose the useless option, it may make the other product with similar pricing more attractive, thus increase sales. Understand more about such useless options below.

The Economist reportedly offered three different subscription offers
• A one-year online subscription – $59
• A one-year print subscription- $125 (Useless option)
• One year online and print subscription – $125

Dan Ariely conducted this experiment and found that among all pricing options, 84% of people chose the third option. In the second experiment, he removed the useless option and checked the results. Surprisingly, 68% people chose the first option and 32% chose the third.

Useless Price Option

9. Buy one get one free

This pricing strategy makes the customer pay the full price of one product/service to get another free. The psychology that is working is greed. When customers come across an offer, they forget their logics and buy the product just to get the free item. Besides giving a free item, you can tweak the offer in different ways, like-

-Buy one and get 30% discount on second product
-Buy 3 get one free.

All these options will have the same effect as BOGOF (buy one get one free).

10. Scarcity

This psychological trigger if used wisely works wonders with people. The less the quantity of product/service, the more is the perceivable value. Expedia uses this technique on their pricing page.

Product Scarcity

This way they entice the customers, that the hotel is in high demand and the customers should book before losing their chance.

11. Customer-segment pricing

In some cases, different customers can be charged differently for the same product/service. For example – The entry charges for a theatre for a student or senior citizen is much less than normal entry charges.

12. Product-form pricing

Different version of the same product is priced differently but it is not always proportionate to their cost. The difference of price between iPhone 7 – 32 GB and iPhone 7 – 256 GB is an apt example of this sort of pricing.

Product Form Pricing

13. Prestige pricing

Also known as image pricing, this is one of the most widely used practices. Some companies price their products artificially high, just for the sake of image that it brings along. Products are priced high only for the exclusivity or luxury that they bring to a customer. Luxury goods are specially priced this way.

Also Read: Buyer Behavior Insights and Data Sources to Increase Ecommerce Sales

14. Channel pricing

The place from where a product/service is bought is a big factor considered while pricing a product. The price of a product/service is different when bought from different channel in the same city. For example:- When a bottle of water is bought from a five star restaurant from ABC city it is priced differently as compared to water from a local vendor.

15. Location pricing

The same product is priced differently in different locations, even though the cost of the product is similar but the retail price differs at different places. Government policies, transportation cost and other such factors play vital role in determining such prices. For example: – the price of Lays chips when bought normally and when bought from a tourist destination differ considerably.

16. Time pricing

Prices of a product vary according to time/day/season, etc. The best example to explain this is restaurants change their prices of weekdays and weekends on a regular basis. You must have seen that early bird dinner prices are different from normal dinner prices; that’s also a form of time pricing.

Time Pricing

Also Read: How to Ensure That Your Product or Service Will Be Adopted by Masses

17. Psychological discounting

Psychological discounting is when a product/service is priced higher and then a discount is offered on it. This strategy is usually adopted by e-commerce platforms during sales as it is a zero-loss game.

18. 10 for $10

We have all seen this offer in supermarkets. Consumers think that they have to buy 10 products to avail the deal, so they will load their shopping cart. This offer plays with the psychology of the consumer and leads to increasing the sales of the product.

19. Time over money

Researchers suggest that entrepreneurs should quit selling the product for money and start selling it for time. If the brand wants to offer personal experience to their customers, they must focus on making their time memorable.
For instance, the two distinct signboards at a lemonade stall read,

1) Spend a little time and enjoy ABC Lemonade
2) Spend a little money and enjoy ABC Lemonade

The sign stressing time attracted twice as many people to buy lemonade who were willing to pay twice the amount.

20. Longer payments terms

Now that everything is available on easy EMI option, companies have stretched the payment over a longer period. Longer payment terms allow sellers to lower the monthly payment amount. Consumers often worry less about the interest rate rather they check whether they can afford the monthly payment or not.

21. Power of context

Economist Richard Thaler researched regarding the power of context. Consumers are ready to pay higher prices of a particular product if they are given subtle cues that justify the premium prices. Perception plays crucial role in influencing their evaluation of prices.
For example – People prefer “multimedia course” over an eBook, even if the information offered is exactly the same.

22. Some people believe more the price, better the quality

For few products, consumer believes that higher the price means higher the quality. This is especially valid for beauty products. So while pricing a product keep in mind the quality/category of the product.

Also Read: Product Selling & Customer Experience Rules are Similar Online and Offline

23. Discount pricing

It is no secret that consumers love sales and discounts. From increasing traffic to offloading unsold inventory, there are several reasons why sellers offer discounts. Adding discounts to your pricing will help in attracting price-sensitive customers to your website.

24. Free shipping/ warranty

When the word free is allied with the price of the product, the consumer is attracted towards it inevitably. Marketers often combine free shipping/warranty with an expensive product to persuade consumers to buy it.

Free Shipping

How should websites place the pricing on product page for maximum conversions?

25. Keep the font smaller

Researchers at Clark University and the University of Connecticut found that consumers perceive the price to be lower if the font of the price is reduced. The theory is that the human mind connects physical magnitude to numerical magnitude.

26. Comparing price (not always best)

Most entrepreneurs use this strategy to compare prices of product/services. It is a very good practice to show customers the different price range of the same product. However in some cases, it may hamper your sales strategy.

For example – A price comparison between the different seller of an e-commerce website is good while if there is price comparison of a specific medicine, customers would want to buy the expensive option rather than the cheaper as they are looking for quality over pricing.

27. Highlight discounts

When you offer sale prices along with previous price side by side- you make more sale as customers see the difference in the amount and calculate the money they are saving. To make this price strategy work, many sellers use the trick of changing the font, size, and color of the discount price.

Highlight Discounts

Also Read: Colors & Conversions of a Website have a Deep Connection

28. Define what are you appealing- utility or pleasure

It is very important that the entrepreneur knows the target audience. Check whether the audience of the website is conservative or liberal spenders. An effective way to target the conservative is by focusing on utility and an effective way to pitch it to the liberals is by focusing on pleasure.

29. Reframe product value

When a product is available with EMI option, the seller needs to be very careful how they write the price of the product. Consumers like to evaluate the monthly cost to them rather than yearly. It is better to write $84/month rather than $1,000/year even though the average is same.

30. Make the context smaller

In a study by CMU, it was found that when the context of the price is small, it extremely affects the consumer psychology. You must have seen (or experienced) yourself that “$5 only” seems more tempting than $5 when you are going through a store. Here, the word “only” brings out the context of “smallness” and makes up buyer’s decision to spend those “$5”.

Final thoughts

Pricing a product is the trickiest part when you are ready to start your ecommerce business. While pricing a product, you require experimental attitude coupled with the intuitive feel for how you want your brand/product to be perceived in the market.

If you price the product too low, you will be able to get a lot of sales but your revenue might take a dip at the end of the month.

If you price the product on the higher side, you will give out a sense of luxury thereby attracting better-off clients. However, if the consumer finds a competitor with the same quality of product at lower price, they would surely shift.

That said there is never a wrong or right approach of pricing a product; it is all about understanding the value of a product and target audience. Experiment with the pricing and check which of the above-mentioned psychological trigger works for your business.

Planning to launch a travel booking startup in India? Here is what you need to know

Planning to launch a travel booking startup in India? Here is what you need to know

Travel sector has been one of the most growth-oriented sectors globally with total sales crossing $629.8 billion in 2017, growing at a rate of 11.5%. This number is expected to cross $800 billion by 2020. In the digital arena, online travel marketplaces are becoming one of the most lucrative business models for aspiring entrepreneurs. There are several strategies to increase revenues being used by online travel startups. Although there has been a certain decline in digital travel sales across the globe over the past couple of years, Asia Pacific is the only region that is showing a promising increase with online sales going from 34% in 2017 to 40% by 2020. India in that aspect is turning out to be one of the best places to start an online travel booking startup.

A recent study done by Google India-BCG has projected that the overall Indian travel market will reach $48 billion by 2020, growing in sync with the global growth rate of 11%-11.5%. Another report by IBEF states that by 2020, almost half of the travel bookings in the country would be done online.

Additionally, Air travel in India will reach $30 billion by 2020 growing at 15%, while hotels bookings will rise to $13 billion and railways to $5 billion. By 2020, one in three hotel rooms will be booked online – which clearly shows that how online travel startups will become prominent in the coming years.

Suggested Read – 5 Statistical Graphs Every Online Travel Booking Business Must Be Aware of

Key reasons behind such a growth in travel sector

There are many reasons behind such a growth in the Indian online travel sector, including faster internet connections, rise in ecommerce and smartphone penetration, increase in household incomes, better travel options available etc.

Although there are several players in the market, the whole startup arena in India is open to new entrants. Given the growth projections in the market and its openness to new startups, there has never been a better time to launch an online startup.

indian travel sector

Suggested Read – Market Analysis & Travelers’ Booking Behavior

The online journey of traveler while making a booking

The bottom line is that a typical journey of online travelers encompasses a combination of several sectors including ticket reservation, booking hotels, hiring tour guides and transportation services.

However online travel startup offers one thing to the travelers – i.e. convenience by offering all the services under a single room. The best part is that these services can be accessed and booked from anywhere and time.

For the majority of consumers, a vacation involves weeks if not months of planning. On average travel consumers spend 49 minutes spread over 46 days, visiting as many as 17 different online touch points to plan, research, and make a booking.

These touch points include online travel aggregators, search engines for reviews, testimonials, and maps. More than two-thirds of the travelers take inspiration from friends and family, while reviews/ratings come as the single most important criteria for making the final decision.

Key areas to keep in mind for online travel startups In India

Types of travelers to target

There are in fact three generations of travelers that an online travel startup must target. This includes Millennials born between the 1980s and early 2000 (17-35 yrs), generation X born between the mid-1960s and early 1980s (35-52 yrs) and baby boomers born between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s (52-72 yrs). Millennials are the ones that are one of the biggest contributors to this growth followed by Baby boomers and Generation X respectively.

A number of travelers

Often overlooked, it is one of the key points to keep in mind for online travel startups. It revolves around how many people they are planning to travel with. This includes:

type of travelers
  • Single travelers – Ones who travel alone
  • Couples – Ones who plan on traveling along with another person usually (honeymoon or married couples.)
  • Family – Ones who plan on traveling with a larger group of more than 2 travelers.

Exposure to Technology

This is another aspect that online travel marketplaces must keep in mind. Exposure to technologyhas played a critical part in the growth of online travel startups in India. Targeting the group of consumers that has the least exposure to technology is basically wastage of resources and online travel startups in India must keep this mind while designing their marketing strategy.

Social Media

In the current market dynamics, social media plays a key part in connecting businesses with consumers. Online travel startups must keep this aspect in mind. With over two billion Facebook users, 700 million Instagram users and 300 million Twitter users, social media becomes one of the major channels for online businesses to target consumers. As targeted ads become a norm on social media, travel startups are using social media to their benefit to capture prospective clients.

Payment Options

Although ecommerce has taken the Indian consumers by storm, still there is huge ambiguity when it comes to payment options. The fact remains that credit/debits card are still not prominent in the country and most of the people still rely on other options for making payment. An online travel startup must ensure that they offer as many options to the travelers making it easy to make the payment.

Seasons

Consumers in India do not travel around the year. The influx of tourists is scattered across seasons, and the bulk of the booking is done over a short period of time. Online travel startups in India must time their marketing strategy around the seasons, and push offers accordingly for maximum results. This usually ranges from October to March when the weather is on the cooler side compared to rest of the year.

Destinations

Although India is a big and diverse country, the bulk of the travel is limited to a handful of destinations. There are two factors behind this. One being lack of awareness among consumers and other being facilities being offered. There are some new travel startups in the country that have created a niche for themselves for offering travel solutions to offbeat places.

Conclusion

The next few years are highly crucial for online travel sector in India. The fact of the matter is that aspiring entrepreneurs just need to keep certain things in mind pertaining to the local customers as mentioned in this post. With more and more people going online for planning and booking their vacation, it has never been a better time for anyone to launch their online business.