India's online travel sector has been action packed recently - with brands such as SpiceJet offering huge discounts, ibibo acquiring YourBus, Yatra securing $23 million funding, and various brands leveraging the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket season to market their services.
When it comes to social media, Indians are engaging in social activity even when travelling, according to a survey. However, many Indian online travel brands are not yet leveraging social media to its full potential.
We took a look at activity from a few online travel brands on Facebook and Twitter in the past month (March 22, 2014 to April 21, 2014). All data below is provided by Unmetric, a social media benchmarking company.
Travel brands covered by the study are: MakeMyTrip, Cleartrip, Yatra, Goibibo, Via, redBus, ixigo, Expedia India, Musafir India (recently launched in India with $16 million backing), and HelloTravel.
In terms of percentage increase in fans, Yatra tops the list. When we look at Yatra's Facebook posts in the past month, many were questions that encouraged fans to answer thereby increasing engagement.
The chart below shows the number of posts according to each company's Facebook admin. page. On average, brands post about 50 posts per month.
In terms of the time taken to reply to fan posts, HelloTravel has the longest reply time at about 40 hours, and the least was by MakeMyTrip at about 3.5 hours.
On average, travel brands (chart below) replied to only 30% of Facebook fan posts, with the highest being Musafir at about 50%. Note: Musafir doesn't have a separate Facebook account for India.
Via.com and Yatra don't have any score because they don't allow fans to post on their wall.
Surprisingly, Expedia India, with 320,000 fans, received single-digit likes for most of its Facebook posts in the reported period.
Below are the Twitter activity metrics for the travel brands in the study, except HelloTravel which Unmetric does not the data for.
While Twitter is emerging as a customer service tool customer service mechanism globally, in India, only a few travel brands are adopting this trend.
MakeMyTrip has the highest number of followers while new entrant Musafir India has the fewest. It should be noted that @MakeMyTripCare also belongs to MakeMyTrip, and therefore it further leads by a big margin in terms of followers.
On average, brands have seen a 3-5% increase in followers when compared to the previous month's data.
The graph below shows the number of proactive tweets, tweets and engagement score of travel brands.
Here, 'proactive tweets' are the number of tweets (not a reply, retweet) posted by the brand. 'Tweets' are the the number of replies and retweets by the brand.
The graph below digs further into the Tweets' section to reveal the number of replies and retweets, and also proactive tweets. MakeMyTrip tops the chart for the number of reply tweets, and Goibibo has the most retweets.
Interestingly, India's leading online brands Yatra and Via.com have a negligible number of reply tweets.
Among the brands that replied to users, plain text emerged as the most exchanged content form, followed by 'brand apology' tweets. 'Links' in replies were used only by Goibibo and ixigo.
When it comes to the sweet spot for engaging customers in Twitter, the vast majority of the dialogue happened between 12 am and 12 pm IST, especially between 12 am and 6 am IST.
NB:India image via Shutterstock.