digital marketing for travel

Unlocking growth through innovation – Digital Leadership Summit Mumbai

  • Mrinali Fernandez
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  • 11 January , 2019
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    • 3 min read

The recently concluded second edition of our Digital Leadership Summit held in Mumbai saw many industry leaders sharing key insights and discussing trends in the digital marketing landscape. Among our speakers was Mr Abraham Alapatt – President and Group Head: Marketing, Service Quality, Value Added Services and Innovation at Thomas Cook. Mr Alapatt spoke about unlocking growth through innovation. Let’s take a look at some key insights from his speech.

The need for innovation

Set up in 1881, Thomas Cook has been around for 137 years. Today Thomas Cook has grown in strengths from a travel agency to a brand that deals with travel, foreign exchange, business travel and many more. Thomas Cook’s massive growth since 2012 all boils down to innovation. For a brand or company to stay relevant and sustain success, they need to continually innovate to come up with new and fresh ideas for operations, products and service

Formalising the innovation process

Alapatt spoke about his role as head of innovation at Thomas Cook. Innovation isn’t something that is forced. Innovating your process or brand for the sake of innovation is redundant and will only do your company more harm than good. As a brand, try to look for a particular value to enhance. The easiest way for businesses to innovate is to find new customers or create a unique opportunity with an existing customer. The best way to this is by implementing a full-funnel marketing approach will help target and retain customers better. Take a look at our video on full-funnel marketing and how it can help your brand.

Digital-led innovation

Many brands are still yet to make the shift from traditional marketing to digital. Today, ignoring the power of digital marketing means leaving your brand in the dust. By employing a digital-first strategy, any brand can achieve higher reach, better engagement and an increase in generating high-quality leads. Here, Alapatt cited two examples. The first was targeting people who make pilgrimage visits. The Thomas Cook website lets users create personalised tours and packages centred around pilgrim centres around the country, pre-book the darshan and continue on the holiday. This feature helped them tap into a whole new target audience including those in tier I and tier II cities. The second was adding an “Explore” feature to target millennials. The explore button gave millennials the chance to create their own personalised list of activities including adventure sports, sightseeing, etc. as well as a prompt to download an app that shows your every route needed for your vacation. The idea behind these features on Thomas Cook’s website was essential to explore new categories to tap into India’s next billion internet users.

The emergence of Virtual Reality

Alapatt touched briefly upon Thomas Cook’s virtual reality feature that gives customers a sense of their planned vacation. In the last few years, virtual reality has become a significant part of mainstream digital marketing efforts. Google India’s Year in Search Report 2017 posits that the Indian travel market will hit $48 billion by 2020. Given these substantial numbers, VR is an excellent way for a brand’s audience to “experience” their products or services without direct physical effects. Not only does this help increase engagement, but combined with an effective digital marketing strategy, VR can help mould the future of marketing for your brand.

The power of video

YouTube is currently the world’s second most popular search engine. In India alone, there are now around 225 million active users on YouTube, with this number expected to increase to 500 million by 2020. Brands need to leverage the power of YouTube or face losing out on a sizeable audience. From ensuring your video content uses techniques like YouTube SEO to exploring multiple formats, brands can improve performance and conversions. Videos have been around for decades, but have recently found their spotlight in terms of social media and digital marketing. Going forward, videos and interactive content will be at the forefront of digital marketing trends in 2019 and beyond.

Innovation and social impact

Innovation does not need to be restricted to marketing efforts or revenue made. Several brands around the world focus on giving back to their community and society at large. Thomas Cook, too, with the aim of social impact started a Centre of Learning. The primary objective of this institution was to drive skilling and employability. They are also involved with multiple NGOs and government organisations that help uplift those in need. CSR via innovation is another way to scale up your business in 2019.

This session by
Mr Abraham Alapatt was insightful for several of the attendees. The pace of
growth today is astounding. Business models transformations that took ten years
are now changing in as little time as three years. To stay ahead of the
competition, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and brands must anticipate change
and act with the future in mind while continuing to deliver results.


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