Rafael Driendl
Country Manager Mexico
View from the Top

Arming Travelers with Digital Tools

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 12:37

Q: What was Kayak’s strategy to penetrate the Mexican market?

A: Kayak is focusing on Mexico since the country is a first-class business center. Mexicans consider traveling important but they had few options to search for ways to do so. They were already using the US version of Kayak’s platform so it made sense to create a Mexican version. After the acquisition of Kayak by The Priceline Group, the internationalization strategy took shape. Mexicans now have the necessary tools that allow them to look for international trips from the comfort of their own homes, with a greater range of options than a travel agency.

It was important for Kayak to establish a strong presence considering the potential and reach of Mexican companies, such as Aeroméxico. Our strategy was to enter Mexico with a large investment and local alliances. For a time, these alliances were negotiated from abroad but Kayak understood the importance of adapting to local culture to create stronger bonds. Our core business is to index travel partners. These include airlines, travel agencies, hotel chains, car dealers and tour providers.

Q: How is Kayak working with other online travel platforms?

A: Rather than competing we work closely with other online platforms in the US, Europe, Brazil and Mexico. Despegar. com is one of our largest partners. This relationship allows clients to compare different platforms and grants them access to lesser-known international platforms. Travel agencies are our partners and they chose to include their services on Kayak’s platform. They often offer packages that include return flights with the same airline. At Kayak, we can offer the return flight with a different airline, which may represent lower costs for the user.

Q: How does Kayak plan to overcome Mexico’s less commonplace Internet use?

A: Mexico is among the Latin American countries with the greatest access to smartphones so Kayak is betting on its mobile platform. If we were to launch the company today, it would be a fully smartphone-based company. About 40 percent of accesses to our page are from a smartphone in Mexico, a model that we have monetized perfectly. We expect this percentage to keep increasing. The only problem we have encountered in Mexico is connection speed.

Q: What are the main trends you have perceived in the Mexican market?

A: Twenty years ago, traveling for Mexicans was superfluous but the panorama has changed. Travel has become a real possibility for many citizens. Mexicans mostly search national beach destinations. The most popular city in Mexico is Cancun both for domestic and Latin American tourists. It is even more popular than Rio de Janeiro was during the Olympics. Cancun also is one of the most popular searches from the US. The top 10 most popular destinations in Latin America include four Mexican cities, making the country a world-class destination. There has been a significant shift in Mexican travel patterns, with an increasing number of national flights.

Q: Which new programs is Kayak incorporating to its platform?

A: We have many programs in beta version. Our app will provide real-time information on the status of flights and reservations without the need to access an email account. We also have a beta platform that allows clients to interact with Kayak by voice. The Priceline Group recently acquired OpenTable, which may one day permit the introduction of restaurants to the platform. US users can book flights from their Facebook account and this feature may be introduced to Mexico in the future. We cannot promote a single hotel or airline but we can provide a compilation of data to help users decide.

Q: What are Kayak’s main goals for 2016?

A: Kayak is now the largest metasearch engine in the world. Our goal is to be at the forefront of Mexicans travelers’ minds and develop the necessary tools to support them in anything they need. For this year, our goal is to incorporate more local brands to our platform, reflecting Mexican user preferences. We plan to grow through events and promotional campaigns.