Asia Pacific’s leading travel metasearch site giving travellers a complete view of available flights, hotels, travel packages and deals from over 150 travel websites in the time that it takes to search just one. Talking to Mr. Ashwin Jayasankar – General Manager, Wego India we get to know the industry inside and how Wego is committed to grasp Indian travel market in coming years.
- Team Estrade: How did you get into the world of travel search industry? What draws you to the industry?
Ashwin Jayasankar: Travel is a rapidly evolving industry. Trends and preferences change at a fast pace and I enjoy the speed in which Wego reacts to those changes. It’s extremely satisfying to be a part of its growth and popularity, especially in India, where Wego established a regional office in mid 2012, recognising the needs of Indian travellers and providing them with an efficient and advanced, online travel comparison tool.
- Team Estrade: Tell us the background story on launching Wego – where did the idea come from?
Ashwin Jayasankar: Wego was launched by co-founders Ross Veitch (CEO), a former executive of Yahoo! and Craig Hewett (CCO), formerly with the InterContinental Hotels Group. The duo had an extensive understanding of online travel and in 2005 somewhat pioneered travel metasearch in the Asia Pacific region.
Selecting Singapore to base their headquarters, both for its proximity to some of the largest emerging travel regions in the world, and the Singapore government’s support of startup companies, Veitch and Hewett set up a team of accomplished tech developers to design Wego, with the objective of saving travellers time and money while shopping for travel online.
Since that time Wego has enjoyed remarkable growth becoming the leading travel search site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, with regional offices opened in Bangalore, Jakarta and Dubai.
“Trust factor is important as travellers recognise that they’re both saving time and money by identifying their travel options on Wego”
- Team Estrade: What do you hear from travellers about your products/services?
Ashwin Jayasankar: Wego’s travel app for both iOS and Android has become increasingly popular in many of our markets where we have a core presence. Both Apple and Google have featured Wego at the top of travel app listings around the world, and feedback from users is overwhelmingly positive.
In India this popularity continues to mirror the growth in the country’s travel market and those who are travelling more frequently for both business and leisure. Travellers feel reassured by Wego’s ability to display airfares and rates from hundreds of global, as well as local, airlines, hotels and online travel agent partners. That trust is important as travellers recognise that they’re both saving time and money by identifying their travel options on Wego.
- Team Estrade: Wego operates in more than 50 localised country sites and 30 languages. What sorts of trends is your company seeing in users’ booking behaviours?
Ashwin Jayasankar: Wego’s localised approach, especially in language and currency, has been an important factor in its success in many countries. Establishing strong local travel partnerships also makes a difference to users who appreciate the presence of local and international travel providers which gives them a more complete choice of prices to compare and select from.
Each year we see growth of the number of people who travel, especially in India, as well as in the Middle East which has a strong connection in terms of travel due to employment opportunities in the region. More of Wego’s users plan their travel using the travel app, which has become second nature to many travellers who are more frequently connected through their smartphone.
“The Asia Pacific region is a highly active travel market with Asia boasting the most number of budget airlines in the world. This combined with short travel times between countries, makes escaping for a weekend getaway easy and affordable”
More people are making spontaneous travel decisions, which we’ve responded to with the addition of ‘Price Alerts’ on the Wego travel app, which can be emailed, and then booked at a time that suits your budget and timing.
In India, as in many of our core markets, travellers are becoming more adventurous, more frequently exploring new destinations. Each year our top destinations for each country changes, which is a reflection of this, but also a reflection of the intense competition by both airlines and hotels to secure a loyal customer base.
- Team Estrade: What marketing options have you explored in India?
Ashwin Jayasankar: As the technology landscape changes so frequently, we try to stay abreast of developments and respond to them accordingly. Travel is such a flexible and creative industry, and its marketing should be approached in the same manner. Performance marketing is our main focus as a digital company and social media engagement an important part of our strategy. Currently we have close to 2 million followers across our social media platforms globally.
We also use our extensive history of user data trails on our site to provide advertisers with a targeted solution based on user interests. Wego launched an advanced audience engagement platform in 2013 and we continue to develop technology based on data science to improve the user experience and provide valued and relevant relationships for travel partners.
Leading the charge in delivering programmatic advertising offerings, the company introduced Wego’s Private Marketplace for advertisers. As one of the first large premium travel publishers to do so, it was the next evolutionary step in the development of high performing and targeted data-driven advertising solutions specifically for digital agencies and global brand trading desks.
- Team Estrade: What changes can we expect in your industry in the coming years?
Ashwin Jayasankar: The travel industry has firmly found its place online, and with that, will continue to evolve to meet new trends and user behaviour as it develops. Much of what we see happening now is defined by mobile, and traveller’s expectations of delivering a complete and accessible experience will grow, and the industry will need to be prepared for new challenges as they arise.
Technology will continue to play a major role in both pre, during and post travel experiences and the industry will respond.
“Millennial traveller will help drive many changes in the industry, with spending on goods and services estimated to reach USD$1.4 trillion by 2020”
Travel content that reflects authenticity and seamless online travel transactions will become even more important to cater to millennial travellers. In many ways these travellers will drive changes in the industry to suit their travel tastes.
- Team Estrade: Please shed some light on your roadmap for the next fiscal?
Ashwin Jayasankar: Wego will continue to invest in the most advanced technology to ensure the most complete and enjoyable user experience possible for travellers. We have an outstanding product and mobile team who are committed to development and new possibilities, so you can expect more innovation in the coming year.
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