Abid Hussain Barlaskar
Advertising

MakeMyTrip cruises through Airbnb territory

MakeMyTrip’s latest campaign featuring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt promotes ‘alternative accommodations’. The new ads have been crafted around MMT’s relatively new options like apartments, villas, hostels and homestays. A space that Airbnb has been a major player in.

Fifty-five per cent of 3000 surveyed respondents ‘switched from booking a hotel to an alternative accommodation property during their last trip’. This was revealed in ‘Where will India stay on their next trip’, a report published by online travel booking platform MakeMyTrip (MMT). The study took place between September and October 2019 with participants from across the country. The findings of this report are reflected in MMT’s latest campaign that promotes ‘alternative accommodations’. Textbook definitions of this term suggest that it’s a form of accommodation (especially for tourists) away from the organised models of staying on holiday — much like home stays, hostels and apartments. Essentially something which is not a hotel.

The 360-degree campaign has been launched with an aim to promote the platform’s relatively new proposition of providing 1,70,000 choices across options such as apartments, villas, hostels and home stays, globally on the platform.

The move seems like MMT’s inroad into Airbnb territory. The over-a-decade-old global player (Airbnb) has been the pioneer of the ‘alternative accommodation’ concept. Airbnb lets ‘hosts’ rent out space/s within their homes to guests online while charging a commission and a service fee. Options range from single rooms with shared/independent amenities, complete homes, apartments to villas. The platform was launched in India in May 2016 and latest reports suggest, it already has 45,000 listings in India alone. If co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk’s conversation with trade media outlet mint is to believed, the platform would also facilitate flight bookings (something MMT started with) in due time.

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The MMT ads featuring Ranveer and Alia highlight two particular cases, a large family and a large group of friends. Accommodating both groups would either require cramming into hotel rooms or booking more rooms for a higher price. The ‘villas and apartments’ come as a relief. With this, the brand has also taken a step ahead of its core offerings, that of easy and cost-effective hotel and flight bookings. The campaign has been crafted by MagicCircle Communications, MMT’s agency of record.

“We want to be able to provide as much choice as possible to our customers for all things related to travel. We have seen how an increasing number of Indians are seeking a differentiated experience for their various travel needs and we want to always be their first port of call when they look for the same. With over 44 million transacted customers on our platform, we are sure we will be able to comprehensively serve accommodation needs of different travel cohorts,” says Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer, MakeMyTrip.

Vipul Prakash
Vipul Prakash

Hemant Misra, managing director, MagicCircle Communications says, “With this campaign MakeMyTrip aims to open a whole new category to the vast Indian middle class. The range of options available, from the really exclusive to the completely regular, thereby being relevant to a vast majority of travellers. The category satisfies a latent need that never surfaced completely since expectations were set by what was available.”

Hemant Misra
Hemant Misra

“As far as travel is concerned, there are some typical expectations of what a holiday experience would be like. It is usually the destination that provides the excitement while the accommodation is seen as the same everywhere. The singular objective of this campaign is to change the expectations from the accommodation — Whatever your destination you can now expect more from your accommodation,” Misra explains.

Industry’s take:

Ronita Mitra, founder and chief strategist, Brand Eagle Consulting says, “Any strong brand, in order to remain true and meaningful to their consumers, would expand their offerings instead of limiting themselves only to the ones they started their business with. MakeMyTrip would, at some stage of their business, have defined their purpose as being the consumers travel partner at all levels. In order to deliver the same, they would constantly endeavour to launch offerings that make consumers' travel experience more meaningful, enjoyable and memorable.”

Ronita Mitra
Ronita Mitra

“Launching offerings such as villas would only take the travel experience to the next level. Villas and apartments are available in many popular vacation destinations, which are known for family/large group travel or long stay vacations. I'm sure this would make MMT much more salient as a brand for consumers seeking to travel for vacations or any other reason,” Mitra adds.

Krittika Chakraborty, vice-president, strategic planning and planning head (Bangalore), Dentsu Impact says, “This was bound to happen sooner than later. Like with every service category, the focus is shifting from need fulfillment to experience fulfillment. When it comes to an OTA like MMT (known more for standardised hotel offerings and not necessarily the more offbeat experiential stays), it is no longer about a variety of hotel options but what will give me the smoothest, most enjoyable experience when I am on vacation. And in this case, it is about that entire ‘chilling and having fun together as a group’ kind of experience that cannot happen when people have to either take separate hotel rooms or jostle for space in one room. This concept of apartments and villas is something that people travelling abroad are already familiar with via the likes of Booking.com, Airbnb, etc. and it was inevitable for a large OTA like MMT to also pick up on this trend and make it more accessible.”

Krittika Chakraborty
Krittika Chakraborty

Speaking on the probable TG for the service Chakraborty says, “Definitely to the millennials, the toast of the marketing world. And not without reason, of course. They are the ones leading this shift towards more experiential formats across services and are the most likely to be the first ones to try out something new. Also, MMT will help make this format more accessible and mass and ultimately they would want big great-Indian-family stays with cousins and kids and grandparents being planned in villas through their platform.”