Cleartrip, once the nearest challenger to market leader MakeMyTrip and the crowd favourite among technologically savvy Indians who raved about its simple and elegant design, is no longer either. Though its attention to detail and focus on usability continue to remain, on most other counts it faces bleak prospects.
Cleartrip Pvt Ltd
Name as per MCA records
DFJ Venture Capital
Goibibo (now part of MMT)
What has Cleartrip been up to, the last year?
Faced with a bleeding, all-out war between Naspers-backed GoIbibo and MakeMyTrip (covered here by us 🔒), Cleartrip tried to find a new space for itself by betting big on “Local” – city-specific events, eating out, activities and fitness. Local was an attempt by Cleartrip to occupy a new space within a customer’s mind, beyond air travel or hotels.
Cleartrip, for one, had already laid down arms and moved out of the travel battlefield. After struggling to make a mark in the hotly-contested online travel space, earlier this year Cleartrip shifted focus to the local activities segment hawking the likes of events, restaurants and fitness. While it still retains a toehold in the travel space, it is a marginal presence at best. This is partly due to Cleartrip‘s well-documented travails around raising capital – according to industry sources, Cleartrip has hitherto raised less than $75m, an underwhelming figure that shows them up as being undercapitalized relative to their competitors and despite a prolonged effort over the last two years to raise more capital to stay in the game, it has been a largely fruitless pursuit.
Unfortunately, there’s no evidence its focus on Local has delivered anything remotely commensurate with the marketing spend it has sunk into the new category or being highlighted as a dedicated “tab” in its mobile app.
Meanwhile, in the “core” areas of air ticketing and hotels, the leaders are MakeMyTrip and GoIbibo (now part of MakeMyTrip).
Rs 229.53 crore: “Other expenses”, up from Rs 131.11 crore a year ago. This is 86.6% of its annual revenue.
Rs 103.88 crore: amount spent on “advertising and promotional expenses” in 2016, up from 47.84 crore the year before.
Rs 65 crore: Cleartrip’s annual loss, up from Rs 29 crore a year ago.
Rs 29 crore: cash and cash equivalents left with Cleartrip as of March 2016, down from Rs 42 crore a year ago.
Rs 44.24 crore: backdated demand from the Indian government for service tax for the years 2006-15. Cleartrip, and the other travel OTAs are contesting this. It has paid Rs 13.3 lakh under protest, but the remaining amount hangs over it like a sword.
Cleartrip is stuck between various rocks and hard places. While its revenue grew by 32.5% last year, its losses ballooned by 125% and debt by 50%. And it had just Rs 29 crore of cash left with it (enough to cover two quarters of expenses, assuming the same burn rates) while having to deal with negative cash flow of Rs 36.5 crore for 2016.
Cleartrip needs clearer skies fast!