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  • Jackson : Online industry in India is growing at an amazing pace, thanks to the market size

    Published on May 9, 2013

    Jackson Fernandez

    Jackson Fernandez

    Jackson Fernandez looks positive, brimming with immense energy, and hardly holds any business tension on his pleasing face. He is an MBA from XLRI and an engineer by training and now Country Manager,  for Wego.com in India.  Before joining Wego, a leading travel metasearch site that gives travellers a complete view of available flights, hotels, travel packages Jackson was a Management Consultant at Accenture working on the online marketplace strategy and its rollout at Verizon, as well as corporate strategy initiatives for some of the Fortune 500 companies. In an interview to APN News Jackson explains the composition and scope of online industry in India.

    Q. You claim to be a success in the online marketing industry.   How do you rate the prospects of online marketing in a country like India where majority of the population is computer illiterate and not even familiar with modern communication methods?

    I think comparing the online industry and the addressable market in contrast with the overall Indian market is rather unfair and incorrect. Factors like growth rate, actual market size and comparison with other international markets would give us a fair view on what the opportunity is. The rapid propagation of web based models over the past few years trying to address key customer pain points coupled with ubiquitous use of hand held devices are catalysing the growth of this market.   We have seen a growing number of users searching Wego for flights and hotels from mobile devices.

    Everyday is a new learning experience in this dynamic space. The pace with which the industry is transforming and innovating is pretty amazing. Any company who operates in this space has to adapt to the changing dynamics of the space and leverage on new models and innovations to reach out to their customers and enhance the customer experience.  Wego’s localisation of its content in India into 11 national languages is in order to reach as many people as possible with technology that makes travel more accessible and affordable for all. Infact we are the first metasearch site in India available in 11 national languages including Bengali, Gujarati and Telugu amongst others which has proved immensely popular with travellers, particularly those seeking affordable domestic holidays.

    Q. Being an engineer what motivated you venture into marketing field?  Was it your choice?

    As I mentioned earlier most of the new age ventures leverage on technology to address key customer pain points. My technology background makes it easier for me to correlate the real world problem with a series of technology solutions that could address the issue at hand.

    Wego as a platform is extremely useful for the new generation traveller who plans and books online. Wego filters through the plethora of options available to suggest the best possible option for the customer. Hence on the B2C side it addresses a key problem that the customer faces while on the B2B side it acts as a marketing channel for travel providers to showcase their inventory in front on customers whom otherwise they would have challenges reaching out to. Our global play across 52 countries is significant value that we bring to our partners.

    Q. How is Wego different from other similar sites? What extra does Wego provide to the clients/users?

    Wego is a travel metasearch site, not an OTA, providing cutting-edge technology to enable easy to use methods for travellers to identify the lowest rates and airfares available online on one simple screen. At any given time, Wego searches over 700 travel sites which include an inventory of 600 full service and low cost airlines, 400,000 hotels and resorts, as well as 400,000 recently integrated vacation rentals. Once a selection is made from Wego’s extensive inventory the user is directed to the OTA, airline or relevant travel partner to complete their booking.

    Q. What could be the size of users of Wego? What is your annual turnover in terms of revenue?

    Since our India launch in mid-2012, we’ve seen an inspiring month on month increase of 15 to 20 per cent in terms of website visits; particularly impressive considering these figures were purely organic and not supported by intensive marketing campaigns.

    We don’t share revenue figures but can tell you we are the leading travel metasearch site in Asia Pacific and the Middle East, with India a core high-growth/high-volume market in which Wego has invested heavily.

     

    Q. How do you compete with the aggressive marketing strategies of other majors in the similar field?

    We don’t compete with the marketing strategies of other major OTAs, infact we complement their efforts on growing the overall addressable market not just in India but other geographies. We compare their inventory and pass along travellers who have chosen their products and are ready to book.

    We find that the Wego brand has also succeeded largely by word-of-mouth recommendation, beyond our marketing efforts in-house. Travellers who have made savings in time and money using the site have shared their positive experience with others.

    Q. What is your current market share?  What is the kind of clients/users making use of your services?

    We are one of the top 3 leading travel metasearch players in all the markets that we operate in. Our users range from independent travellers and business travellers to family and large groups. We are also a favourable option for students and back-packers who are looking for budget and economical travel options.

    Q. Any specific business model you plan coming decade in terms of enhancing your reach?

    A decade is a fairly long horizon to comment on especially because of the rapid innovations coming out not just from our global tech labs but also on the ecosystem is transforming. On the customer side we aspire to drive improvements that enhance customer experience and make travel planning online and easier and more effective process, while on the B2B side grow as a marketing channel that delivers value to our partners and help grow the overall market. Our focus areas have always been developing markets each of which have huge potential for growth and have their own unique characteristics which require tailored solutions.