Benita Chacko

“Inter-city bus market is becoming organised and standardised”: IntrCity SmartBus’ Swapnil Tripathi

The chief business officer of the bus mobility platform speaks about the brand’s first marketing campaign.

While travelling on the highways or the exit points of any city, we often come across names like Neeta Tours and Travels, Orange Travels, Dolphin Tours and Travels or Ganga Travels. These bus service providers' names are mostly written on their buses or on the signboards of the booking offices. But have you ever come across these names on an outdoor hoarding? Or on a digital or OTT platform? Rarely ever, right?

These providers don’t largely advertise and travellers largely choose the bus based on availability, ticket prices and past experience. But now IntrCity SmartBus, an inter-city mobility brand, has launched its first-ever marketing campaign ‘It’s not a bus, it is a SmartBus’ to highlight its features.

The digital film humourously depicts the travails of passengers during a long-distance bus journey due to the absence of washroom facilities. It also highlights the various features of the smart bus. It is a part of the brand’s customer acquisition efforts.

The campaign is targeted at the youth (below the age of 34 years)- working professionals who are going to meet parents on the weekend, salesmen or traders and college students.

Swapnil Tripathi
Swapnil Tripathi

Swapnil Tripathi, chief business officer, IntrCity SmartBus, said, “The customer is otherwise used to a very average experience. So we wanted to convey to them that we are offering something far more superior and different. That’s the problem statement we conveyed to the agency also.”

The campaign is driven with the larger objective of creating branding. “Any branding ad results in user acquisition. The core intention was that a large part of the market where we have been active now for two years should get to know that there is a significantly differentiated service available,” he says.

With the onset of summer vacations, the campaign is well-timed. Moreover, the pandemic has ebbed and people have begun to travel carefree. “April-June is the peak season due to summer vacations. Also this will be the first summer after two years without any travel restrictions.

Currently, the brand operates over 200 buses in 16 states, covering more than 630 routes across the country, serving more than 1 lakh passengers a month. However, this campaign will be targeting only the Delhi and Bengaluru markets.

“We have to invest in a restricted market to get the best returns. If you look at our pan-India presence, we have 45 per cent routes in the South followed by the North (40 per cent) and close to around 15 per cent in the West. Of these Delhi and Bengaluru are our two single largest hubs. Based on the success here, other cities will get added in the subsequent quarters,” Tripathi says.

Apart from the brand film, the service will also be launching many other creatives highlighting the other features of Intr City. 80-85 per cent of the marketing spends will be invested on the digital medium and OTT. The remaining will be spent on outdoor.

IntrCity follows an assetless model, that is it doesn’t own the buses, but only operate them on lease. It provides the technology, management and standardises the service. When it onboards a bus it goes through some structural changes, like the inclusion of the toilet. It also gets equipped with IoT and gets the branding.

It offers features like special seat options for extra-tall passengers, pregnant ladies, or women with infants, private cabins, and extra spacious seating areas for plus-size travellers. It also provides air-conditioned SmartBus boarding lounges where travellers can wait for their bus. The lounges have seating space and recliners for power naps, besides free Wi-Fi capability, mobile charging points, and amenities like drinking water, coffee, and toilet. Every SmartBus has a Bus Captain to look after passenger convenience and security. The app provides travellers with live bus tracking updates and the Track My Boarding Points System, which notifies customers of the boarding stop or the nearest bus stop.

Intr City has launched into a highly crowded market. There are hundreds of bus services in every city. However, there are hardly any differentiating features among them. Among these, there are a few like Zing Bus and Yolo Bus that provide similar features. While many providers have experimented with some of these features like washrooms, or IoT-based tracking, Intr City claims to be the first to provide all these services in their buses. Tripathi sees an underlying movement in the bus operations market from an unorganised and non-standardised market to an organised and standardised one.

“The space in itself is doing very well for the last two years. The pandemic has just given a need for more trustworthy brands in this space. The other bus operators are feeling the need and there is far better adoption now. There are two ways for that- either upgrade yourself and operate with your own brand name or attach those buses with ours,” he adds.

Have news to share? Write to us