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SPARK OF THE CORPORATE

By being in the content with the market share of Cleartrip, Crighton always try to stay ahead of the curve by understanding the needs and desires of the customers. The most important of all is to conversion rate of the customers. In spite of being the CEO and Co-Founder of the third largest online travel company, Crighton always maintained a low profile. Crighton not only focus on growth but also on the product. Crighton has identified India as the business cycles of the country are longer in comparison to those of US business cycles and India hardly compare with other markets and India provides enormous business opportunities.

Early career ...

The career of Crighton started with Sodexho; where Crighton has developed the commercial business in a specific services division throughout central Asia. Later he has moved to India for setting up a services business for Orion CCG, a company which is involved in the managing India and Asia. Prior founding Cleartrip, Stuart was associated with Abacus Distribution Systems and was responsible for heading South and West Asia. He was looking after all the aspects of the operations and strategies of the company spread across different countries of Asia such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Since 2006, Stuart was serving as CEO and Co-Founder at Cleartrip Private Limited. All the strategies partnerships of Cleartrip with hotels, airlines and other travel suppliers are managed and developed by Crighton. He is also responsible for the overall profitability and performance of Cleartrip. Crighton also served as the Director of Business Development for Cleartrip serving all the operational and commercial aspects. As a founder of Cleartrip, Stuart is responsible for the vision, performance and overall success of Cleartrip. All the major strategies are set by Stuart and he is responsible for directing Cleartrip in all the moves of the company and ensures that all the business models are scalable.

Stuart style of leadership...

As India has always been a competitive market with strong players and with emerging business models. Crighton has also identified that there is a constant capital flow into the Indian travel industry. Crighton has always had a laser-eye focus on the growth and market not leaving aside the focus on product and its evolution. Crighton opines that the acquisition of Flyin is a part of the natural expansion process in order to fulfill the demands of the customers and not for shifting the focus in the market. With this Crighton tries to make clear the difference in the design of the company over couple of years. This deal would result in huge amount of funds being raised by the existing investors and investments made by the new investors.

Crighton along with Hrush Bhatt has founded Crighton during the period when the internet banking and payments mode were at its peaks of growth and change. Crighton always believes in value creation for the customers such that they maintain a long term relationship with the company. Online Travel Agencies (OTA) are a kind of e-business which create an impact on the lifestyle of the common man. These agencies create a win-win situation for the travelers by offering convenient bookings at affordable prices. Cleartrip is one of the leading players in this segment. This is controlled by a 44-year old and a rugby-loving CEO and Co-Founder Stuart Crighton.

Leadership strategies...

As the value of the Indian market is much larger and a majority of the people end up in booking the only a few times in a year, Crighton’s strategy as a player in the market is to spent on acquiring more customers even at high rates of customer acquisition. Here Crighton has acted smartly and identified people who travel for short trips but most extensively. Thus this made the company to reduce the cost and at the same time end up in working towards solving the customer problems, and thus friction is reduced and simplification of the online transactions. This strategy of Crighton has helped him in product evolution, development and creation of a strong differentiator. This differentiator has helped Cleartrip in building the content, information, holiday trips and plans as per the customer needs and requirements.

Crighton’s investment strategy is that major share of investment must be into technology and with respect to marketing, 30 percent of the investment would be dedicated for offline marketing and 70 percent for online marketing. The long term focus of Crighton is to build and invests in the technology that would make the transactions more efficient and which acquire stable customer base. Crighton opines that brand building is the most respected priority in this segment.

Leadership success...

With the growth of the technology and ecosystem in the country, Cleartrip has expanded its operations into Middle East and Northern Africa which have the business potential. The company has even in the stage of acquisitions and also has acquired Saudi Arabian Flyin. For the last two years, under the leadership of Crighton, the Indian operations of Cleartrip have been successful in reducing the losses and on the other hand, increase the revenue. This improvement of Cleartrip has helped the company in saving the day as against its competitor MakeMyTrip, which acquired Ibibo.

Crighton has developed and established Cleartrip to such an extent that the company is fully capitalized and there is no immediate requirement to raise funds in the current fiscal year. Cleartrip has matured enough to a great deal across various segments which include lodging, hotel bookings as well. The contracts of Cleartrip with other properties across India are more than 14,000. The first cross-border acquisition of Flyin has enabled Cleartrip to expand its operations to West Asia. After acquisition, the combined entity almost had 60 percent of the market share in West Asia.

Crighton also revealed that Cleartrip is eyeing the increased presence in Gulf Cooperation Council countries like Kuwait, Bahrain. Crighton is now looking for entering Egypt also. Under the leadership of Crighton, Cleartrip has been witnessing a 28 percent year-on-year growth in India and remains bullish in the country. Online air ticketing booking remains and continues as the most profitable market in India. The leadership of Crighton and his strategic decisions has attracted some of the investors such as Concur Technologies Inc., DAG Ventures and Gund Investment Corporation. In the Indian market, even though Cleartrip was not able to improve its share, but unlike other OTA companies, the company was able to control and reduce losses.

Challenges faced...

One of the biggest challenges for Crighton is focus, as there were many directions for the company to move forward. Most of the opportunities provide only short-term revenue but fail in providing sustainable opportunities, but seems to be more tempting. As much as there are huge opportunities, there are huge challenges as well. Crighton dream of transforming Cleartrip as the most respected travel booking company in India and for which Crighton is committed to do what he is doing along with his team.

Some facts about Crighton...

Crighton’s mantra and secret of happiness is playing Rugby and the favorite travel destination is French Alps. Crighton admires humility the most in other people. Crighton always makes sure that not even a single day of his life is being wasted and wants to spend each and every day of his life qualitatively. Crighton feels that the most critical thing in Cleartrip is the employees of Cleartrip. Crighton is one of the rare outsiders who along with Harsh have setup a formidable business in the cut-throat online travel space in India. The design thinking of Crighton has enabled Cleartrip to strike the balance between the operational profitability and expansion plans.

Personal life...

Crighton has been graduated from in Business Management from University of London. Stuart Crighton is married to Vanitha, Indian, while he is a PIO Cardholder and an effectively Indian. At instances when Cleartrip was stuck in an uneasy balance between revenues and losses, the decision of Crighton on acquiring the Saudi Arabia based Flyin has resulted in 40% of the business coming from the international market. This acquisition was made with a view of deepening the presence of Cleartrip and cash in on the air traffic markets in India.

Hope readers caught up the spark...

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