Online Travel Agencies Selling Dreams and Aspirations on Social Media

CHENNAI, February 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

- New Report Analyses the Social Media Habits of India's Top Online Travel Agencies to Understand how These Brands are Using Social Media to Engage Fans and Drive Business

- MakeMyTrip Soars Ahead and Goibibo Comes a Close Second in the Race For Customers

Click, click, go. That's all tourists have to do nowadays to book their holiday. India is fast embracing online booking, with multiple Online Travel Agents (OTAs) competing for the eyes, ears, clicks and ultimately, wallets of the aspirational middle class. In an industry where consumers chase the lowest price, social media has become an instrumental tool in the arsenal of OTAs as they look to entice customers with exotic locations, unbeatable deals and time limited offers. Indeed, Facebook has turned into a tidal wave of paradise beaches and awe-inspiring locations.

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In a new report, Unmetric, the social media benchmarking company from New York, dives deep into the social media habits of 11 of India's top Online Travel Agents to discover who is doing the best job of wooing customers to their services.

Underlying the entire report is the Unmetric Score. The Unmetric Score takes into account various quantitative and qualitative metrics to produce a single benchmarkable number, with a brand earning a unique score for each social network. By combining the Unmetric Scores for Facebook and Twitter, it was found that MakeMyTrip led the field with a total Unmetric Score of 79 out of a possible 200. A close second was Goibibo, which scored 76 and Yatra completed the top three with a combined score of 68.

The overall winners are also the same as the top three on Facebook. MakeMyTrip leads with an Unmetric Score of 56 out of 100, Goibibo scored 48 and Yatra scored 43. Cox & Kings, one of the more exclusive travel brands in the industry, finished at the bottom of the Facebook table with an Unmetric Score of 22.

Twitter has been a difficult social network for many brands to exploit its full potential, with many brands in India still focusing their social media efforts on Facebook. The top three OTA brands on Twitter were found to be Goibibo, which scored 28 out of 100, Yatra scored 25 and iXiGo scored 25. Thomas Cook had the lowest Unmetric Score on Twitter with a score of 18.

Diving deeper into the Facebook analysis, Unmetric found that Goibibo is the most popular OTA on Facebook, with 690,000 fans, although MakeMyTrip is a close second with 675,000 fans. In third place is Yatra, which has just crossed 600,000 fans. The average OTA was found to have 415,000 fans, which left Cox & Kings far behind with just 88,000 fans, which also goes some way to explaining their lower Unmetric Score.

In terms of which brand is growing the fastest on Facebook, Unmetric found that EaseMyTrip, a new comer to the OTA sector, has been growing its fan base at 55% in the last 30 days, more than three times faster than second placed Goibibo, which recorded 14% fan growth. Third was Thomas Cook, which grew its fan base by 13%. The average growth rate was found to be 8%. Interestingly, international heavyweight OTA, Expedia, had a negative growth rate for the period analysed.

Fans' numbers alone are not the best metric on which to base success, it's how the brand engages them that counts. To that end, it was found that MakeMyTrip was the most highly engaging brand with fans loving their content. To calculate fan engagement, Unmetric uses the Engagement Score which is a combination of Likes, Comments, Shares and Estimated Impressions to produce a single score. MakeMyTrip scored 124, EaseMyTrip scored 88 and iXiGo scored 67.

Unmetric delves deeper than just simple Likes and Shares. The content strategy of each brand is analysed by a combination of machine learning and human computing to uncover insights into what's working for top brands and even what's working across sectors. For the OTA sector, Unmetric analysed over 400 posts and found that information about travel destinations was by far the most popular category as brands looked to whet appetites and inspire dreams. By examining content categories against their Engagement Scores, it turns out that talking about travel destinations is a very effective strategy as it was the highest engaging category with a score of 67. The second most popular category was deals. In fact it is quite common for brands to talk about a particular travel destination and then follow up with a deal for that part of the world. Fans love deals as it was also the second most engaging category with a score of 56. Asking fans questions is another sure fire way to get fans Liking and Sharing, as is posting something such as "Like this post if you have ever been on a surprise holiday." Brands didn't make much of corporate social responsibility on their Facebook page, nor did they encourage User Generated Content; both categories had very few posts.

Unmetric also helps brands understand ways in which they can use social media for customer support. Seven out of ten brands analysed replied to fan comments, with Yatra being the most likely to reply, responding to 75% of fan posts. MakeMyTrip only replied to 25% of fan posts, but replied to the most by volume.

Twitter has seen mixed fortunes for the OTA brands with some holding it at arm's length while others have taken to it like a fish to water. EaseMyTrip, the brand with the highest fan growth on Facebook, has also spent a lot of effort building its Twitter presence, being the only brand with more than 10,000 followers. ClearTrip is in second place with 7,100 followers and Yatra comes third with 6,800 followers. Despite the huge marketing and advertising campaign, Expedia hasn't focused on Twitter yet, acquiring just 700 followers.

It appears that Thomas Cook spent January focusing on building their Twitter followers as they increased their following by 44%, more than five times what second place Via.com could manage. Yatra came third with an 8% follower growth. Goibibo saw the lowest growth out of all the fans, with just a 1.5% growth rate.

One of the best uses of Twitter is to build a community and support channel. Brands can't be social in a vacuum and Twitter is about interacting and consuming rather than just publishing. In this respect, both iXiGo and ClearTrip have made a point to engage their audience, posting 224 and 214 replies respectively, more than three times the amount third placed MakeMyTrip managed. Including proactive tweets and retweets, brands sent an average of 280 tweets each in the period analysed.

Interestingly, OTAs were more likely to apologise to a person than ask them to contact them. If the brand wanted to get the person to contact them, the most common contact method provided was to view a link. However, out of the 684 replies analysed, 515 were simply plain text, suggesting the vast majority of enquiries replied to could be solved in 140 characters or less.

One area brands need to be mindful of when using Twitter as a customer support channel is the average time it takes to reply to tweets. Twitter is an instant update social network and people expect replies within minutes. MakeMyTrip is leading the field, sending out 68 reply tweets in an average of 50 minutes per tweet. Goibibo had an average reply time of 170 minutes and Yatra came third with an average reply time of 12 hours. Even though iXiGo replied to the most tweets, it took an average of over 18 hours to reply to a tweet, suggesting a customer support team that's struggling to keep up or not being given enough resources to respond promptly.

Facebook

Unmetric Score

1. MakeMyTrip - 56
2. Goibibo  - 48
3. Cleartrip - 43
4. Yatra.com - 43
5. Via.com - 40

Fans

1. Goibibo - 688,821
2. MakeMyTrip - 674,504
3. Yatra.com - 599,201
4. Cleartrip - 576,013
5. Via.com - 567,849

Growth

1. EaseMyTrip.com - 54.90%
2. Goibibo - 14.20%
3. Thomas Cook India - 12.90%
4. MakeMyTrip - 12.80%
5. ClearTrip - 9.70%

Engagement Score

1. MakeMyTrip - 124
2. EaseMyTrip.com - 88
3. iXiGo - 67
4. Thomas Cook India - 56
5. Goibibo - 48

Response Rate

1. Yatra.com - 74.60%
2. Expedia.co.in - 66.70%
3. Cox & Kings India - 50%
4. Thomas Cook India - 34.60%
5. iXiGo - 33.30%

Twitter

Unmetric Score

1. Goibibo  - 28
2. Yatra.com - 25
3. iXiGo - 25
4. ClearTrip - 24
5. Via.com - 24

Followers

1. EaseMyTrip.com - 10,040
2. ClearTrip - 7,148
3. Yatra.com - 6,781
4. MakeMyTrip - 4,438
5. Goibibo  - 2,742

Follower Growth

1. Thomas Cook India  - 43.80%
2. Via.com - 7.90%
3. Yatra.com - 7.80%
4. MakeMyTrip  - 7.10%
5. iXiGo - 4%

Number of Tweets

1. iXiGo - 665
2. Goibibo - 550
3. ClearTrip - 456
4. Via.com - 316
5. Yatra.com - 221

Number of Replies

1. iXiGo - 224
2. ClearTrip - 214
3. MakeMyTrip - 68
4. Goibibo - 62
5. Thomas Cook India - 48

Average Reply Time (hh:mm)

1. MakeMyTrip - 00:50
2. Goibibo - 02:50
3. Yatra.com - 11:53
4. ClearTrip - 16:05
5. Expedia.co.in - 16:39

Speaking about the analysis, Unmetric CEO, Lakshmanan Narayan said, "In a hypercompetitive and rapidly commodifying industry, the consumer is more price conscious than brand loyal. Hence, businesses need to use other techniques to differentiate themselves and ensure customers come back. While deals and offers are one approach, customer service can be a huge differentiator. When we analyze other service industries like Aviation or Telecom, we see that these sectors have made huge efforts to support social media customer service. In these sectors, brands are replying to thousands of customers on Twitter within minutes, and that's just a flavour of things to come."

Unmetric is the Social Media Benchmarking Company. The Unmetric SaaS platform delivers a real-time, high availability service for brands that helps them stop flying blind with their social media efforts. Using a combination of machine learning and human intelligence, Unmetric delivers competitive data, benchmarks and insights for all major industry sectors across the major social networks including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. Now, brands are finally able to answer the basic business question of "How do we stack up against the competition?" when it comes to their social media presence.

Methodology:

Unmetric compiled its OTA Report by sourcing data from its own social media benchmarking platform. Data and Insights on brands' activities on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest were analysed for the period between 1st January, 2013 and 31st January, 2013.

About Unmetric:

Unmetric Inc. is headquartered in New York City and works with clients across the world. The Unmetric platform was established to give Fortune 500 companies and other large global brands and agencies key performance data around which they could benchmark their social media efforts and answer the question "Is that good?". For more information, visit www.unmetric.com, or check out the Unmetric blog at http://blog.unmetric.com

Primary Media Contact: Peter Claridge, peter@unmetric.com, 91-893-9704365

Secondary Media Contact: Olivia Gallion, olivia@vscpr.com, 1-415-6779125

SOURCE Unmetric (Tech Origami Software Pvt Ltd)




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