Online Travel Agencies Wield Power of Celebrity Endorsements

Skift Take

Bollywood’s influence on marketing is undeniable. Online travel agencies are cleverly leveraging this by enlisting Bollywood celebrities to sell travel. Let there be lights, camera and action!

Online travel agency Goibibo announced this week that it has signed Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor Khan as its brand ambassador.

In the world of Indian online travel agencies, the synergy between popular Indian cinema, or Bollywood stars and brands has become a common marketing strategy.

The practice of signing Bollywood celebrities as brand ambassadors is not a recent phenomenon but has evolved significantly in the past decade.

GoIbibo’s brand campaign featuring Kareena Kapoor Khan.

Yatra.com: In 2012, Yatra associated with the biggest Bollywood actor of that time Salman Khan and also involved the actor as a shareholder. This also laid the groundwork for other Bollywood stars to venture into the travel industry.

In 2017, Yatra then got actor Ranbir Kapoor onboard as its brand ambassador leveraging his appeal among younger audiences.

MakeMyTrip: In 2016, recognizing the shift towards a younger target audience, MakeMyTrip chose Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt as its brand ambassadors. Ranveer Singh’s brand value reached $181.7 million, making him the most valued celebrity of 2022 according to a report by Kroll, a global risk and financial advisory solutions provider.

The Kroll study highlighted that the total brand value of the top 25 celebrities in 2022 is estimated at $1.6 billion, marking a 29% increase from the previous year. The study further observed that film stars continue to dominate the celebrity endorsement landscape, accounting for over 80% of the celebrity-endorsed advertisements. Sports personalities followed at 10%, with television stars making up 4% of the total celebrity endorsements.

The MakeMyTrip television commercial featuring Alia and Ranveer.

Cleartrip: After being acquired by Flipkart, Cleartrip in 2021 signed up Anil Kapoor as its brand ambassador. In 2022 the online travel company managed a coup of sorts as it signed popular Bollywood couple, Vicky Kaushal and Katrina Kaif, marking their first endorsement as a married couple.

EaseMyTrip: Not being able to resist riding the celebrity brandwagon, EaseMyTrip, which had so far steered clear of associating with celebrities for brand endorsements, appointed Vijay Raaz and Varun Sharma as its ambassadors in 2021.

Ixigo: In 2022, Ixigo roped in Bollywood actors Jackie Shroff and Suniel Shetty as the new faces of the brand, for their #NikalLo campaign. Ixigo had then said that their mass appeal and fan base across various cities made them ideal ambassadors.

Agoda: Digital travel platform, Agoda last month announced the appointment of Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana as its new brand ambassador in India.

Goibibo: Goibibo’s journey in celebrity endorsements began in 2017 with Deepika Padukone. And now the choice of Kareena Kpoor as its face coincides with the launch of its new campaign, integrating cues from Kareena’s memorable roles and real-life persona into the brand’s identity.

Celebrities are now earning a significant portion of their income from commercial endorsements, sometimes eclipsing their earnings from their acting or sporting careers.

Advertisements with celebrity endorsements alone account for over $200 million in India’s advertising industry, with film personalities contributing a substantial eighty percent of these endorsements.

A recent report by AdEx India, a division of TAM Media Research, one of India’s biggest television audience measurement analysis firms disclosed that 29% of ads telecast on Indian television between July and September 2022 were endorsed by celebrities.

Notably, the influence of celebrity endorsements isn’t limited to traditional media alone. According to Social Media Week, a celebrity endorsement can result in a substantial increase of around 4 percent in product or service sales, underlining the immense power they yield in the digital age.

Ajman Tourism Eyes India Market

United Arab Emirates’ Ajman Tourism has extended its outreach to India with a roadshow, covering key cities such as Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad this week. A delegation led by Mahmood Khaleel Alhashmi, director-general of Ajman Department of Tourism Development will be meeting tourism authorities, travel agents, tour operators, and hotel representatives, to promote tourism and emphasizing investment prospects.

India holds a crucial position in Ajman’s tourism strategy due to a rising number of Indian tourists exploring the emirate.

Why India? According to Ajman Tourism, India has emerged as its second-largest international source market over the past three years. More than 65,000 Indian visitors account for over 12% of the total tourists arriving in the Emirate. The data further reveals a noticeable increase in the number of Indian non-UAE residents relative to Indian residents in recent years, along with an overall surge in the number of Indian visitors, growing from 31 percent in 2019 to 48 percent in 2023 year-to-date. Additionally, the Indian guests’ average length of stay has extended by 23 percent year-on-year.

Indigo’s Newest Connections

Low-cost carrier Indigo has unveiled 3 new direct routes connecting Salem, the fifth largest city in Tamil Nadu, to Chennai from October 29 and to Hyderabad and Bengaluru from October 30.

The airline has also added the coastal town of Diu as its latest addition to the network from October 29. Diu will connect directly to Ahmedabad and Surat making it the 83rd domestic and 115th overall destination in the Indigo network.