eIndiatourism: Moving with the times
Founded in September 2001 by Vinayak Sinha, www.eIndiatourism.com is
one of the largest and most comprehensive domestic travel-information
related directory on the net with more than 4,500 pages of information.
The web site claims it gets more than three million hits and an average
page views of 25,000 per day.
For the record, Sinha and his team have developed and designed more than
250 travel-related web sites for its customer base of about 110 companies
so far. For the customer base of eIndiatourism – namely, the tour
operators and travel companies who target inbound tourism – a winning
strategy for driving online traffic to their sites is critical for staying
one step ahead of competition.
The sure-fire strategy: Optimisation of search engines
The one undisputed and sure-fire rule for driving traffic online is optimisation
of search engines. More often than not, net surfers tend to browse through
the first two pages of their search results. Moreover, net users tend
to stick to the same search engine for subsequent searches as well –
much like being addicted to a particular brand of tea for one’s morning
cuppa (or newspaper for that matter)! Like in many others cases, the Internet
is a key source of information for a large section of travelers, who turn
to it while finalising their destinations and preparing for hotel bookings.
“Hence regardless of what a company spends, search engine optimisation
is the beginning of getting a fair return on investment on your site,”
says Sinha. Since its inception in 2001, eIndiatourism.com has evolved
into a site that specialises in developing and marketing travel sites
online for heightened presence on key search engines (Google and Yahoo!),
newsgroups, mailing lists and webrings. The high rate of success of eIndiatourism
in its ability to deliver high search engine optimisation for its clients
is visible at a glance on its online section on testimonials.
Strategies for search engine optimisation
The strategies adopted to achieve high search engine optimisation are
varied. Some golden rules followed by eIndiatourism are indeed commonly
acknowledged: user-friendly sites, easy to browse, fast to download, ensuring
colour preference and content structure is relevant to the site objective,
keyword rich content, customised title tags and so on.
Does it work? It would seem so. Till date its has represented 110 companies
and it keeps growing. Sales worth Rs 56 lakh have been achieved since
inception versus Rs 11 lakhs of sales in the first six months of inception.
Profits too are now rolling in: Rs 4.5 lakh as far.
In addition to getting the most out of net searches, Sinha has looked
at other routes to reach his target audience. A lot of his strategies
emerged from experimentation, while the bulk of it emanated from his initial
learnings – courtesy the four-year plus stint at Indiamart.com. One
of the major efforts of the site has been to look at generating repeat
business and referrals for the site. For instance, of the 250 sites set
up for 110 companies so far by eIndiatourism, about 125 are for a customer
base of just a dozen companies.
Sharing customer experience
Delhi-based tour operator Holidays2treasure, for example, set up its
first web site providing information and services on its prime offering
of Palaceonwheels heritage train tour in Rajasthan in October 2001 through
eIndiatourism. In December 2001, it launched a site on its services for
hotels and resorts in Goa. By December 2002, the company had set up 26
websites through eIndiatourism each targeting a common and a specialised
market at the same time.
How does it help the tour operator? “It helps us to maximise our
reach to the largest possible spread of audience on the web on each of
our services and special offers by driving traffic through search engines,”
contends Sudhir Sachdeva of Holidays2treasure.
According to Holidays2treasure, the cost of setting up each subsequent
website is far less than the cost of one single overseas trip for one
Adds Sinha, “The net is the ideal medium for tourism-related –
specially inbound, infotech and software-related – and online shopping-related
services.” For a tour operator who sets up a website, has a good
product to offer, and is able to optimise search to drive online traffic
to the site, the return on investment is immediate at times.
For instance, for Holidays2treasure, the cost of each subsequent website
that is set up and marketed is one-fifth of the cost of physical travel
overseas for marketing efforts. “Even if through all the 26 websites
the net contributes just 5 per cent of the total revenues, it is a worthy
return on investment for us,” says Sachdeva. More importantly for
Sachdeva the online presence provides him the chance of building a brand
for his company. “In three years, the company will benefit hugely
from online branding initiatives,” he says. Second, holidays2treasure
has acquired customers from markets that traditionally would not have
been targeted through offline marketing efforts such as overseas offices
or associates in countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The flip side
Is the picture all rosy? Or is there a flip side as well? “When
you do not have a customer face to face to deal with across the table,
a lot of time is wasted on unwanted leads. Second, big chunks of the business
still do not come through the web – you need offline marketing initiatives
to make that happen. However, the bottomline is, given the search engine
optimisation skills of eIndiatourism, our sites have provided us with
a high web presence and leads into newer markets. Plus we have recovered
our investment,” indicates Sachdeva.
The site is on an expansion drive now. Its immediate plans include moving
to a larger office space; expansion of its lean-team of 15 people; continuing
its focus on customer-loyalty through its marketing efforts; sustain and
nurture its quicker turnaround time on projects to customers versus competitors;
and last but not the least, setting up a trade portal on India in the