Leading the Travel Category in India: ixigo Case Study

Karan Lakhwani by
Head of Business Development India at AppTweak

Last updated: 5 min read

The tourism and hospitality industry in India has emerged as a critical growth driver among Indian service sectors. Considering the country’s rich cultural and historical heritage, travel and tourism have the potential to generate a lot of employment and represent a significant source of foreign exchange.

According to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, India ranked 10th among 185 countries in terms of the total contribution of travel & tourism to GDP in 2019; furthermore, travel & tourism contributed to 6.8% of the economy’s entire GDP. However, in 2020 and 2021, the pandemic forced Indian travel apps to realign their strategy within the category. In this blog, we will analyze the key changes and mobile tactics used by ixigo to dominate the Indian travel market.

Keyword optimization on Google Play

ixigo is the leading brand for train bookings in India. While ixigo’s train app is well-optimized and an industry market leader, the team has recently turned toward promoting the growth of their flight-booking app.

In February 2021, the team increased their education around App Store Optimization (ASO) by reading guides and understanding the important role that keywords play in ASO. Thanks to this research, they started coming up with new app titles based on: competitor research, keywords with the highest search volumes, and AppTweak’s Keyword Impact feature – their favorite feature on AppTweak – that provides an overview of the team’s target keywords and their rank/search volumes.

Identify the keywords with the most potential to drive downloads to your app with AppTweak’s Keyword Research & Suggestion tools

To capitalize on the Keyword Impact tool, ixigo considered its product offering and the keywords that can effectively communicate the app’s value. This allowed them to successfully track the most relevant keywords that had the potential to drive downloads to its flight app.

For example, ixigo’s founder wanted to experiment with the generic keyword “cheap flights” on Google Play, for which the app ranked in the top 5. ixigo tracked the app’s visibility after removing the search term from its title and saw that the app had now dropped to ranking around the 13th position for this keyword. This demonstrated the importance of the term “cheap flights” to their visibility on the Play Store and highlighted the price sensitivity of the Indian market. Having added the keyword back to its metadata – the app title is now “Cheap Flights, Hotel & Bus Booking App – ixigo” – the ixigo app rose to rank in the 3rd position for this search term.

ixigo’s visibility for the keyword “cheap flights” on Google Play (India, 2020).

Leveraging A/B tests for app creatives

To optimize the screenshots for its flight booking app, ixigo first started by identifying its core offerings. In particular, they wanted to focus on promoting safe travel for the second half of 2021 (when COVID-19 restrictions were likely to have been lifted). To do so, they worked on changing the positioning, font, and layout of elements in their screenshots. For example, the team added more reassuring text to its flight app, such as the line “Free flight cancellation with ixigo assured”. Its screenshots also highlighted ixigo’s in-app vaccine slot finder which allowed ixigo to position itself not only as a travel app but as a holistic travel companion, demonstrating the app’s added value.

ixigo’s screenshots highlight the app’s added value in reassuring users among COVID-19 travel uncertainty and positioning itself as an all-in-one travel app.

Need inspiration for your app’s creatives? Monitor your competitors’ A/B tests and creative updates with AppTweak’s ASO Timeline & Metadata History features

Successful app localization on Google Play

India is a vast country comprising citizens that speak a total of 122 major languages, with 22 of these languages given recognition, status, and encouragement by the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. This makes localizing the app experience a complex task for app marketers. As English and Hindi are currently the preferred search languages for the majority of Play Store users, localizing the app metadata and experience in Hindi is paramount for apps in the travel category to reach a more extensive user base.

In the past, ixigo continuously updated its app’s metadata in one language – English (India). Based on ASO best practices, ixigo now works to create an enhanced user experience for their Hindi users, with its train booking app ranking in 2nd position on Google Play (only after the official Indian railway app). For keywords like “फ्लाइट बुकिंग” (flight booking) and “रेलवे टिकट” (railway ticket), ixigo holds a keyword dominance over 15%; of the total estimated downloads for these keywords, 15% or more are for ixigo.

Case study information provided by Anubhav Narula, SEO Manager at ixigo. Connect with Anubhav on LinkedIn!

About ixigo

ixigo is an Indian online travel portal that simplifies the booking process of flights, trains, hotels, and buses. The AI-based travel platform helps its market organize, book, and track all their trips by aggregating information from all over the web to provide the best offers and deals. ixigo runs two predominant apps – one for flights, and another for trains.

Looking for travel inspiration? Read ixigo’s interesting travel stories, find all the latest travel news, and let the team help you plan your next vacation. Explore the ixigo website here.

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Karan Lakhwani
by , Head of Business Development India at AppTweak
Karan is a Business Development Manager at AppTweak with a passion for technology and marketing. He has experience in sales, customer success and enjoys writing blogs.