[Infographic] Clash of the Titans: MakeMyTrip vs. ClearTrip vs. Yatra

Although the online travel industry in India has been growing rapidly from 2005 onwards, the industry is still to consolidate and mature. Air travel dominates the current scenario, with 60% market share ahead of railways which contributes 15% of the market (solely from IRCTC). Hotels constitute 13% and the rest is split between buses and cars. The ecommerce industry in India, currently pegged in the range of $11-16 billion, has over 70% of the numbers coming from the online travel sector, with the rest coming from retailing. By the end of 2015, the Indian online travel market is expected to hit a gross online bookings number of $12.5 billion, with a huge push coming from mobile traffic.

Currently the three major Indian online travel agencies (OTA) in the market – MakeMyTrip.com, Yatra.com and Cleartrip together hold 85 per cent of the online consumer travel market, providing ample choices for the consumer. MakeMyTrip has already gone public in 2010 while Yatra is expected to go for an IPO next year. Many new players like Goibibo and Ezeego1, some of the legacy players such as Akbar travels planning for growth and disruptive new startups such as Airbnb have also entered this space in the recent past. The industry is struggling with undifferentiated offerings and in a bid to create unique positioning in the minds of consumers, the leading players are focusing on providing convenience and full spectrum services

50. COTT Makemytrip_Yatra_Cleartrip  Copy

TIMELINE

Starting up:

  • MakeMyTrip started its operations in the US in 2000 and then moved to India in 2006 after getting favourable response from the NRI market there
  • Yatra started its operations as the only online travel company to offer its travelers the convenience to book flight tickets till 3 hours before the departure
  • Cleartrip launched its services in India in 2006 with the focused vision to “Make Travel Simple”

Funding:

MakeMyTrip -

  • 2000 – $2 million in venture capital funding from eVentures;
    2005 – $10 million in its first round of funding from SAIF (Softbank Asia Infrastructure Fund) Partners;
    2006 – $13 million in series B funding from Helion Venture Partners, Sierra Ventures and SAIF Partners;
    2007 –  $15 million in series C funding from Tiger Global, Helion Venture Partners, Sierra Ventures and SAIF Partners;
    2010 – took the IPO route and got listed on NASDAQ
  • Yatra -
    2005 – $5 million from NVP (Norwest Ventures Partners), TV18 and Reliance PE;
    2008 – $17 million from Intel Capital;
    2011 – $60 million over a staggered funding round from Intel Capital over the year;
    2014 – $23 million from IDG Ventures and Vertex Venture Management, the VC investment arm of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek
  • Cleartrip -
    2006 – $3 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and Ram Shriram and
    later $8 million from DAG ventures
    2011 – $40 million from Concur Technologies;
    2014 – $5.4 million venture capital from Concur Technologies.

Partnerships / Mergers & Acquisitions:

  • In 2007 Yatra and Hughes, the global leader in providing broadband satellite networks announced an alliance that allowed Yatra.com to offer its travel related services to customers in Tier B and C cities through select HughesNet Fusion centers in the country
  • In 2009 Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group firms, won a case at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) against MakeMyTrip, which had been using the term ‘tata’ in one of its websites, ‘oktatabyebye.com’.
  • In 2010, Yatra tied up with ebay India to promote the products of Yatra.com across eBay India
  • In 2011, Cleartrip announced Strategic Investment and Alliance with Concur, one of the leading travel expense software company. Concur made an investment of $40 million in 2011 and then increased its stake to close to 25% in April 2014
  • In 2012, MakeMyTrip acquired an effective majority equity interest in a group of companies known as the International Tour Center, a well-established hotel aggregator and tour operator for Thailand. The acquisition helped MakeMyTrip further expand its presence in Thailand. MakeMyTrip also acquired HotelTravel.com for $25 million
  • In 2012, Yatra announced 100% stake acquisition in Travelguru & Buzzintown, both providing travel and activity related content
  • In 2014, Makemytrip acquires EasyToBook.com Group

Pioneering Services:

  • In 2007, Cleartrip launched the ‘Cleartrip Forum’, the first fully unedited customer support forum
  • In 2008, Makemytrip partnered with IRCTC for rail bookings and holiday packages and with Apollo DKV partners to offer Domestic Travel Insurance
  • In 2009, Makemytrip joined hands with Airtel DTH to check and book holiday packages on television, in an effort to broaden the user base
  • In 2009, Cleartrip launched ‘ClearTrip for Business’ the first online travel management tool for corporates. In 2010, the firm launched the first comprehensive mobile travel website that worked on all phones
  • In 2012, Yatra introduced the first of its kind app that let the user book their domestic flight with multiple options of transacting at one go on Windows 8, in association with Microsoft
  • In 2014 Cleartrip became the first OTA to provide cancellation of bookings on mobile apps

Senior Management Hires

  • In 2008, Yatra announced the appointment of Gautam Kaul as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the newly formed Inbound Division of the company. Prior to this role, Gautam was the Sr. Vice President at SITA / Kuoni Destination Management and headed Sales, Operations, Product Development, Quality Control and Vendor Management
  • In 2012, ClearTrip appointed Samyukth Sridharan as President and COO. He was the Chief Commercial Officer at SpiceJet prior to joining ClearTrip
  • In 2012, Salman Khan came on board as a stakeholder and brand ambassador for Yatra
  • In 2013, Makemytrip announced the promotion of Rajesh Magow from Chief Financial Officer to Chief Executive Officer – India. Prior to joining MakeMyTrip, Mr. Magow was CFO and acting CEO for the India operations of eBookers.com, now part of Travelport

Going Mobile:

  • In 2007, Makemytrip and Cleartrip partnered with Paymate to launch the booking and payment of air tickets through SMS. Yatra also offered this service in the same year
  • In 2011 all the three OTAs launched their mobile apps

Unique marketing initiatives:

  • In 2007, Cleartrip launched the Cleartrip Calendar, a breakthrough in online air search as a pioneering feature compared to competitors, announced the launch of an official customer forum and was the first amongst the key players to launch an ‘Air Hotel Combo’ for its customers
  • In 2008, Yatra launched the service of booking hotels online but making the payment while checking in, the facility of online ticket cancellation and reimbursement policy for domestic flight delays
  • In 2009 Makemytrip launched multi-city flight booking service Alootechie.com, and the ability to book up to 7 flights in a single transaction
  • In 2011, Makemytrip launched a rewards program for its loyal customers, aptly named My Trip Rewards
  • In 2011, Yatra launched Cash on Delivery (COD) service
  • In 2013, Cleartrip launched an initiative called Pricewatch which offered refunds to passengers when the price of their international bookings dropped from the original fare before departure

The OTA industry is plagued by a lack of loyalty, given the large number of options available and every site providing the same information from the same flight data aggregators worldwide. Customers are especially fickle given the frequent promotional and discount campaigns run by these agencies to drive up volumes for a period of time. Further, the three OTA giants – Makemytrip, Yatra and Cleartrip have many similarities in products & services, making it hard to distinguish any powerful unique selling propositions (USP) for each. For example, in the recent past, Cleartrip’s mobile user experience has been rated highly, while Yatra has been aggressively trying to build an association with ‘guaranteed lowest prices’ through their campaigns.

Write to us in the comments below about what you think are the USPs of these three big online travel companies.

Previous Clash of the Titans articles:

Ola vs TaxiForSure vs Uber  and CommonFloor vs Housing

Chaitanya Ramalingegowda

Chaitanya is the Consulting Tech Editor at YourStory.com. He is also the founder of HatkeShaadi.com, the world's first crowdsourced matrimonial service - discovering the best matches wherever they might be.. Prior to that, he was a management consultant advising Fortune 50 CxOs across the world on their global strategies. He is an MBA (2005) from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad and BE (Computer Science) from NIE Mysore. Twitter: @InfiniChai