Cleartrip’s CMO Kunal Dubey on roping in Kidults to drive impulse travel

Cleartrip’s CMO Kunal Dubey expounds on reintroducing the kidults format for the latest campaign for travel-related impulse planning, the festive travel trends and how the brand aims to build stronger recall.

Shamita Islur
New Update
Kunal Dubey

A decade ago, consumers were hesitant to consider online shopping and the larger challenge faced by e-commerce platforms was to raise awareness about the same. E-commerce platform Flipkart aimed to make online shopping a child’s play by introducing kidults into the mix. The kids-as-adults format created a strong recall as the brand raked in increased revenue growth of 140.6% in FY 2014 and has since been a recurring marketing tactic for the brand. 

While it could be argued that the repetitive format is losing its charm, Flipkart-owned Cleartrip has brought back kidults for its latest campaign for Big Billion Days. The slogan ‘Ab desh sochega nahi, seedha book karega aims to make travel an impulse decision. 



This comes on the heels of the festive season, which has increased consumers’ travel expectations. According to The India Holiday Report by Thomas Cook India and its group Company, SOTC Travel, Indians are becoming increasingly discerning travellers with around 78% of them displaying an increased appetite for premium and experience-led travel and higher spends.  

It has been observed that using kids in advertising or for any other type of communication for brand building is likely to positively affect the consumers’ brand preference and purchase intentions. Cleartrip’s CMO Kunal Dubey expounds on reintroducing the kidults format for the latest campaign for travel-related impulse planning, the festive travel trends and how the brand aims to build stronger recall.

Edited Excerpts:

What was the idea behind the recent 'kidults’ campaign and what are your expectations with reintroducing Flipkart's concept? How was it conceptualized and which mediums will you be using to distribute the campaign?

First of all, the festive period predominantly has been known as the most spike event for E-commerce in general. The recovery we have seen over the past years really helps us move the baseline shift completely.

This (kidults) is another attempt from a travel perspective for Cleartrip to see if the same approach and strategy can be taken on travel as well.

Apart from that, the DNA of Big Billion Days (BBD) for the group has been to see how we can change consumer behaviour from shopping and now from a travel booking perspective. Cleartrip has always believed in making travel simple and easy for consumers. Travel inherently is a tiresome process in terms of planning. The number of days it takes to plan a travel versus actually travel has a difference.

But travel is the most conversed topic in the country. We want to make consumers consider travel as an impulse journey. That is an ambition that we have. To see if this can be a starting point where travel can become an impulse category. 

If you look at the BBD, the value deals that you get aren’t available throughout the year. This time, with the right pricing deals, we are taking away all the uncertainties by providing more flexibility, including flexible cancellation. I think this can lead to a nice impulse driving towards a conversation on that front.

The festive season is an important time for the travel industry. What is Cleartrip's marketing plan for this festive season? How much percentage does festive contribute to your annual sales?

It's in a healthy double-digit trend. But for this festive season, we are actually planning on taking the market share for the actual travel season which starts in December. Normally, booking happens in the month of November.

We want to prepone the planning habit of the users to start their travel booking this festive period in October itself. That's the larger objective of doing this earlier.

What's the marketing budget set aside for the festive season and the recent marketing blitz? What specific media plans are in place to maximize brand visibility during this period?

I have been a big advocate of digital marketing. That’s not to say that traditional marketing doesn't hold any value. It of course does. 

But, for any online travel company, I think everybody who's inspired to travel is online with the planning, discovery and search all happening online. If those users are online, it is best to catch the user at that site.

So 95% of our efforts are online. From the entire funnel perspective, from awareness to actually building saliency and consideration to the bottom funnel from a marketing perspective. We have a digital-first objective and we are seeing decent results with this strategy right now. 


What festive trends do you foresee in the travel industry from a marketing perspective this year?

60% of the leisure international travellers in India are actually first-time travellers, at least the ones that are booking online.

The second important trend we are seeing is the upgrade part. More and more people want an upgrade in travel including better rooms, free seats or an extra meal. 

Also, shorter trips are becoming a phenomenon right now, it is becoming a part of life itself. I think occasional travel is becoming much higher than long holidays. We are also seeing a rapid jump in online booking. 

The number of leisure trips taken by customers in Tier Two and Tier Three is only about 20 to 30% less than the trips taken by Tier One from a location perspective.

Can you give us an overview of Cleartrip's marketing strategy? What key mediums does it use and what is its differentiation strategy?

From a planning perspective, it is very important to land the users on day one and day two of sales where the maximum number of people can come and see what the offerings are, in the festive period. We invest in marketing closer to the deal dates and go up from a regional frequency buildup from that perspective. 

Largely from an offer perspective, we go a little aggressive in terms of offerings in terms of value constructs, or deeds that you have to offer. 

With an increase in travel influencers, how important is influencer marketing for Cleartrip? What's the objective behind taking this route?

The role influencers play is really massive. There are four stages of travel - the dream stage, the planning stage, the booking second, and the actual travel.

Influencers come in handy from the first stage, which is the dream stage. I think igniting the thought process for travel becomes very important. 



But we have been using influencers in our funnel during the planning stage right now, which helps the user plan better on the creative platform, how to get the best deals at the best time and what options to go for. We are seeing decent traction on that front.

Can you tell us about a few underrated uses of social media, and how can these channels contribute to the overall marketing strategy?

On social media, WhatsApp can actually be considered since that's where you connect with people. I think it is a solid medium that's gonna come up right now, apart from Instagram and Twitter or other platforms. It is the one platform which is currently giving actually full-funnel opportunities for all the brands right from the top of the funnel, mid-funnel and bottom-funnel. 

Many brands are still using WhatsApp as information versus the conversation channel. They are not doing that largely. While Instagram and YouTube has been doing well, WhatsApp is new right now and if used well, it can be pretty interesting.

In India, the unorganized market still holds a good portion of the industry. How does Cleartrip compete with these players who have built a loyal customer base?

One of the key charters for us is to help unorganized markets to come online and go entire funnel not just by giving them a platform where they can book but by looking at the entire end-to-end flows, which makes them service the end customer better. So I think they are all part of the ecosystem and we are happy that we're making good inroads on this market. To acquire a customer loyalty base, I think even an online market is part of the ecosystem for us. We don't look at it differently or as a competition. I think there are partners in this whole journey itself.

There are talks about how augmented reality will shape and change how people look at travel and tourism. What are your thoughts on that?

I don't think anybody has used the gen-AI as far as travel is concerned. People have used it a little bit for planning, but I think the real power is yet to be unearthed. 

Most brands are using the gen AI products, which are either Bard or ChatGPT to make planning easier and quicker. But I think that's not the right use case. There's a larger role for AI to play in the travel industry. As of now, we use it for marketing purposes very strongly, be it creative generation or for research purposes, even on the performance marketing front. But I think the end users want a solution backed by Gen AI. Give us a few months and you will see something very interesting on that front.

What are your marketing focus areas for Cleartrip in the near future?

The last two years have been pretty solid for us. I think in the near future, the two categories that we have to go deep inroads in are the air category, both domestically and internationally. In the coming months, you will see some marketing for the hotels and buses category. For us, the strategy is more about going to the depth of the existing category rather than on the weight of the new categories. 


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