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Saudi Arabia’s market ‘incredibly exciting’ situation

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August 14, 2018

Stuart Crighton

Saudi Gazette

RIYADH — “Flyin had been very successful and it is a homegrown company started by Saudis. They built a great business that leveraged technology in India so they have a huge technology arm there. They leveraged the back office and the call center facilities of Egypt and depth by getting a foothold in the Egyptian market. They created a commanding market share presence in Saudi Arabia, they did all that through technology, and to the product,” said Stuart Crighton, Cleartrip Founder and CEO on the light of the recent agreement with ‘Flyin’.

Cleartrip is bringing a significant amount of content to Flyin. In the next few weeks, “you’ll see about 14 to 15 new airlines and 25,000 new hotels come onto that platform,” he said.

“Flyin built the right product for the right consumer, and that was the source of their success. The largest segment of the society here are young people who are digitally focused and interested in travelling but at a certain price and affordability would be the key for lots of travel. The same could be applied to hotels as we can also see that nearly 60 percent of hotels in the region now are non-branded hotels.”

On the Saudi market, Crighton said that Saudi Arabia is an incredibly exciting market for a number of reasons. It is a large market with a large domestic audience. There are lot of initiatives by the government in terms of connecting tier two and tier three cities. New airlines that are starting to come up and more will, and that is going to stimulate a lot of travel within Saudi Arabia and within the region.

“Cleartrip built up about eight or nine percent market share in Saudi itself. The combined Cleartrip and Flyin market share is at about 58, 60 percent of the Saudi market. If you extend that into the GCC, Cleartrip is sitting at about 72, 73 percent. Saudi market grew at about 14, 15 percent in 2017 and due to the business shift from offline to online our businesses grew at 100 percent. We will bring a lot more content into ‘Flyin’ with a lot more technology. We can upgrade the whole mobile platforms as can see that a lot of transactions are done via mobile phones and about 70 percent of our transactions at Cleartrip, are mobile based. In Cleartrip there are over 90 low-cost carriers, we have localized around what people are buying in the region and that will come to ‘Flyin’ very soon,” Crighton elaborated.

Commenting on the difference between Cleartrip and other OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) such as booking .com, Crighton said: “As one of the top three main OTAs in the world, that they are successful as they have large inbound markets, however, they did not cater to audience that exists in the region, and not localizing.”

In relation to awareness “the GCC market has a branded keyword behavior. We put a lot of investment building brand in the UAE and around GCC. But now that the brand is quite well known, what we do now is we support that with a lot more performance in digital type behavior. ‘Flyin’ has built a very sophisticated online marketing presence; which is very important to digital businesses. Competition upgrades the customer and this is another interesting thing, with social channels, customers are now have more awareness and do not accept anything of less standards. People know what their entry-level requirement is. And that’s what I mean by upgrade of consumer service and we have to build our technology to respond to them.”

Cleartrip was the first in the world to activate online mobile cancellations due to the consumers demand. There is so much to do and we just have to do is just keep organized about how we are thinking about it. That’s the challenge.

Cleartrip was founded in 2006 in India, with the main vision to take advantage of a lot of change that was going on in the travel industry in India — that means online businesses. Digital businesses have a much better opportunity of success.

This article was first published in  Saudi Gazette

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