Cleartrip blog now also on Medium

First of all a very Happy New Year to all the readers. This year we have tonnes of insights on Travel and Local to be shared. So far, we have used the Cleartrip blog mainly for making announcements, sharing design nuances and interesting statistics. In 2017 we plan to continue sharing all of that. In addition you will see us write about, tech nuances, product learnings, a sneak peek into the life inside at Cleartrip and more…

We started blogging almost 10 years ago on Squarespace & then moved to WordPress. No doubt WP is good and has supported us for long but here’s why we would like to be our presence felt on Medium as well.

Cleartrip now also on Medium

Experience

Medium has a better reading experience. Here’s one informative article to know more about typography nuances on Medium. The bullets, indentation, heading, sub headings, quotes, hyperlinks, spacing between the lines and paragraphs are all well designed. The usage of whitespace gives a phenomenal reading experience and also helps keep the reader focused. Images uploaded in 2x are automatically resized and adjusted to fit even non-retina screens.

Medium is meant for writers. It’s simple and intuitive way to include writers, contributors and editors, makes it easy to share drafts, among peers to get feedback.

Existing community

Medium already has a huge reader base; A community of like-minded people and avid readers. We are hopeful of reaching to a bigger base of people and share our insights. Social integration is absolutely seamless. A simple publish automatically publishes the snippet on to Facebook and Twitter.

Like Cleartrip, our blog has been constantly evolving and are listening to customers. Stay tuned and follow us for more updates. We hope to share interesting insights in Travel and Local in the year ahead.

Do follow us on Medium@cleartrip

Introducing Search for Local

It’s been just about 6 months since we introduced Cleartrip Local. We’ve made many small but notable changes to the product since then. Most of these are under the hood to improve the product’s performance and your experience with the product. But we’ve also been quietly at work, on a bunch of new features for the product that starts rolling out now.

We obsess on dogfooding our products, and realised very early on that we need to give you a better and easier way to find things-to-do in your city. When you know what you want or when you just want to do a quick check, endless scrolling would be of little help. Hence, search.

Type in what you want to do and pick from the results to plan an exciting day. It will take less than a second! You can access search from the top toolbar in iOS and through a floating action button on Android.

search-introduction

search-autocomplete

While you can access search from any tab on the app, the results are not limited to that specific product. So, for example, you could search for lunch at Punjabi by Nature while browsing upcoming Events in your city. As you type, we show you the closest keyword matches against your input. You can pick from the suggestions or simply hit the search button.

search-results

To aid memory, your most recent searches show up on the search screen below the search bar. A quick way to search for something again. We think search will be most useful in finding something that you might have seen and liked but can’t find it again or may have forgotten to add to your wishlist.

search-recent-searches

Behind the scenes, we use an instance of Elasticsearch to power our search for Cleartrip Local. The entire content of Cleartrip Local is indexed in Elasticsearch. Each document in the index has “suggestor fields” that are used to match the keywords you type. The order of the autocomplete suggestions and the results are determined by our search algorithm that assigns different weights to the various “suggestor fields”. Our standard Elasticsearch cluster of three machines with 3 cores and 6 GB RAM results in an average response time of around 50 ms. Really fast at most times, unless there is a network bottleneck.

This is just the beginning of search. We are continuously working on improving the algorithm to deliver more relevant results and help in effective decision making. We are also working on a bunch of other features around search that’ll make your experience with search even better. Stay tuned!

We’d love you to spend some time searching on Cleartrip Local and tell us what you think. Especially when it doesn’t work for you. Reach out to us at mobile@cleartrip.com with your feedback.

Re-imagined fare alerts to help you save time and money

Purchasing a flight ticket, though a simple and quick affair, causes lot of anxiety to many travellers even today due to the fact that airlines frequently change fares. Staying true to our founding goal of “making travel simple”, we continue to innovate on Cleartrip Fare Alerts which will help you save time and money while purchasing a flight ticket.

Let’s take a quick trip down the memory lane:

  • In 2008, we launched Cleartrip alerts so you can easily find the best deals on Cleartrip.
  • In 2012, we launched fare alerts to help you track airline fares.

While this earlier version of Fare Alerts sent you frequent alerts at regular intervals of your choosing, it needed to evolve to be able to handle the dynamic airline pricing strategy we have come to witness in the last couple of years. Today, we are reintroducing the totally re-imagined Fare Alerts to help you stay one step ahead.

There’s a common myth that Online Travel Agents (also referred to as OTAs) such as Cleartrip, set and change the flight fares actively. But the truth is airlines divide the total number of seats into many classes such as B (12), C (15), V (20), W (22) etc, with numbers denoting seats in that class. As the seats in each class get booked across all OTAs and neighbourhood travel agents, next class is opened up at a higher fare.

Fare volatility driving you nuts?

Airlines start actively increasing fares in the last 2 weeks, often doubling them 24hrs prior to departure time. Under competitive pressure from other airlines, they also announce flash sales with significantly reduced fares sometimes by even 50%. The catch however is, limited seat availability at such discounted fares. This dynamism in fares fluctuating up and down often during the same day, is bound to drive travellers nuts.

Customers typically search anxiously 15-30 times before making a successful booking. While traditional companies may love your time investment on their site, we at Cleartrip believe your time is well spent elsewhere, say with your loved ones. The re-imagined Cleartrip Fare Alerts is re-built from the ground up to minimise the number of searches required for successful booking and time spent tracking airline fares.

After you search on Cleartrip and land on the Search Results Page, click on the “Set a fare alert” link in the left-hand pane. On the iOS and Android mobile apps, click on the Fare Alert bell icon at the bottom of the Search Results Page screen to set fare alert for the sector and date you are currently searching. Fare Alerts will notify you only when its worth your time:

  • Just before the cheapest fare to your destination is about to increase significantly so you save money before it increases.
  • Immediately after the fare increases so you can make an informed and timely decision.
  • Instantaneously if fare drops, to take advantage of limited seat availability during flash sales on a great money saving deal.

Being the first to know of fare changes, either up or down, can significantly increase your odds of finding the best fare and thereby saving money. Since the alerts are now delivered real-time, via email to your inbox and notifications through your Cleartrip iOS and Android app, you can make an informed and timely decision even without visiting Cleartrip website or app. To learn more about how Cleartrip Fare Alerts work, checkout frequently asked questions.

Picture abhi baki hai

There are so many powerful enhancements to Fare Alerts that are in the pipeline that we can barely contain our excitement. So stay tuned to be wowed and happy tripping!

Quick walk with  — Cleartrip

At Cleartrip, we have been always been trying to provide better experience on desktop and mobile. Of Course we have set few design benchmarks on desktop, but Mobile has been a bit dear. Within mobile, personally I use iPhone, so inclination to catch-up with iPhone’s new iOS has always been very exciting.

Here is a quick visual guide of how we tried to keep up to iOS new releases for past few years. Rewards & satisfaction? Scroll down.

May 2011 — Cleartrip Mobile with Retina Display support





Aug 2012 — Cleartrip comes to iOS





April 2013 — Passbook for iOS





March 2013 — Cleartrip for iPhone gets taller & ready for iOS7





Sept 2013 — Featured in App store






June 2014 — Cleartrip comes to the iPad





April 2015 — Presenting Cleartrip for Apple Watch






April 2015 — Cleartrip apple watch screenshot were shown on Apple website






At the same time, we also got covered in one of the keynotes.






Oct 2015 — Quick actions on iOS with 3D Touch





We are always excited & happy with the kind of work we are doing at Cleartrip. Keep a lookout for Cleartrip with iOS10.

[Design nuance] Switcher icon

Cleartrip for past 10 years have always stood for Travel. It’s always tough for any company to break out of it’s positioning & offer new set of products & features. With recently launched Cleartrip Local, we faced similar such situation. The most challenging part while designing local was to fit it in the same app. It was not just adding few more icons in the product line up but inherently positioning Local and Travel as 2 modes. Local had to be at an equal level as Travel.

We gave a deep thought about whether it should be a different app or the same. But of course travel is not as frequent as going for a day outing, so we decided to accommodate local experience in the same and now you don’t have to download another app. If the app has to operate in 2 modes then not only we have to establish this conceptually, but also visually creating levels.

We set out with following goals
  1. Same app, 2 modes
  2. Switching between the 2 modes to be made super simple and accessible
  3. Educate people about Travel & Local modes every time the Cleartrip app is launched
To meet these goals we did a number of iterations, one leading to another. We would like to show you the journey of how the interface evolved.


Iteration # 1 – Extending tab bar

Considering one very old post, there was no debate about showing the navigation first. Get the user to do his frequent task without any taps. So the first and obvious iteration was to retain the tab bar and add a “more” button which expands the navigation to show more options. Not even remotely acceptable.



Iteration # 2 – Color coding Tavel & Local

Color code travel and local. Blue stands for travel and yellow stands for local. Really? I asked my self and gave it a shot but was not working. Mainly because it’s too tough for user to first associate with colors and then to identify the number of products within. So rejected.



Iteration # 3 – Creating visual seperation

In iteration # 2, I felt there is still scope to explore further. May be the colors are not too easy on the eye and needs some learning curve. So tried another approach with black and yellow, creating a differentiator to establish sections. Still not convinced.



Iteration # 4 – Flattening Travel and Local

Discarded the entire thought and looked at it with a fresh perspective. A lot of people in the design team were convinced with the following approach. We just have 5 main tabs in the tab bar. Search, Travel, Local, You and more. And then within each tab we have segmented controls to show individual products. I know it’s not a regular case, but if someone had to go from Hotel details to Activity details, they had to tap some 8 times. So this was definitely out.



Iteration # 5 – Creating 2 prominent modes

Lets merge last 2 iterations and see if we can come up with some other variation. Not happening again.



Iteration # 6 – Explore posibilities

By this time our anxiety levels were on there peak. We decided to go all out. Not linear but explore all possible directions.



Iteration # 7 – Stick to basics

After exploring various possibilities, we were quite convinced that lets not reinvent the wheel. The most convincing of all the approaches which we tried was iteration # 5 with 2 main controls to switch mode. A bit more experimentation on that lead to a series of variations.



Iteration # 8 – Break through

The idea echoed at the most fundamental level and this was it. After sleeping over this concept and referring to few other well designed apps, we strongly felt that something on these lines will work perfectly fine and won’t disturb the user experience.



Iteration # 9 – Almost there

The black switcher bar was conflicting with the black body of the phone and was not visible. So we made it gray to have a better contrast. And this is how it has turned.

While all these experiments were happening, Google also released a component in the material design which included the bottom tab bar. Few days back we shared design nuances of Android navigation. Since Android has these hardware buttons in the bottom, it was tough to put the toggle bar in the bottom which can get tapped accidentally. Also users is in local mode will rarely switch to other mode unless they have travel plans. Assuming this, we placed the switcher icon on top in Android.

In the coming days we are further optimising the navigation for better experience. Meanwhile give Local a spin and stay tuned for more updates.

What’s happening, lots happening!

Two weeks back, we launched “Cleartrip Local”. Cleartrip Local is a bold way to reimagine the “trip” in the context of your home city.

At Cleartrip, we are more attuned to performance advertising as we firmly believe in the cliched adage “In God we trust, the rest bring data”. We wanted to take a different approach on Local, as we firmly believe that this product can scale exceedingly well with powerful communication combined with wider reach. So, came the idea of using TV to communicate the product that we have built, with of-course using new tech for measurements.

Cleartrip Local caters to the ‘here & now’. We brainstormed multiple moments of truth which included the fear of missing out, illusion of ’same old, same old’ in the city, & the illusion of complete knowledge around what’s happening around you. And one line resonated with a lot of us – “You are a stranger in your own city” & out came the central idea for the campaign – “What’s happening, lots happening”.

While the core idea was nailed, we were worried on the execution as most ideas falter at this stage. To make it more challenging, as has always been with us, the product had to be the protagonist. Our good friends at Mullen Lintas meticulously planned the details so well that the film came out exactly how it was visualised in the storyboard. Creativity with perfect execution – We couldn’t ask for more.

We have gone live with the campaign across TV, Radio & online. By far, the largest campaign that we have launched in Cleartrip, we are excited to see it come alive on multiple formats.

Here are the links to the films.

TV

60 seconder

Radio

Bangalore

Mumbai

Delhi

True to the brand’s soul, the films are cool, quirky & fun. Keep a look out for our happening ads on all your favourite TV channels or scoot over to the Cleartrip Youtube channel to access them.

Next time, when somebody asks you “What’s happening”, we hope that you turn around and say “Lot’s happening”.

[Design nuances] Cleartrip Android navigation

Last year we updated Cleartrip Android app with a fresh design, based on Google’s material design guidelines. It made the app cleaner, faster and more consistent with the Android ecosystem.

This year when we tried to bring the local product to Android, we thought we will clean up lot more things and make it more intuitive and better. In a multi part series, we want to first discuss about navigation.

h1. Problem with the previous navigation

 

Our previous navigation was in line with Android’s suggested navigation. But the accessibility of the navigation was broken.

Based on the thumb accessibility map, hamburger menu lies at a place where most people can’t reach, especially in a bigger android phones like Nexus. We thought about bringing tabs for long, but the options we tried never felt compact or actually solved our discoverability problems for our other products.

Our approaches

 

We were also bringing a new set of products under Local, and this option would not scale well for the products there. The top navigation won’t work if we bring in travel and local switcher in the top. We went back to basics and tried with bottom tabs for navigation. It was new and we felt it will work strongly. Around that same time Google also released a component in the material design which resonated with our design. So the time was right to make it live.

Final navigation design

 

Products are now upfront and clear. No hamburger or more tab to keep things hidden. Now the Travel — Local product switcher resides on top. Stay tuned for a post on design process and how we came up with the switcher. But to adapt it to android, we made few adjustments and made the entire travel — local switching experience delightful.
  1. We kept the Travel — Local switcher on the top, to give an hierarchy for the products and also not to keep three level navigation at the bottom.
  2. We brought a Material design colour change when the user toggles between travel and local. This sets up the product context between local and travel as mentioned above.
 

 

We’ll share more android design processes in upcoming weeks. Meanwhile if you haven’t tried our app yet, go check out in the Android Playstore.

Cleartrip turns 10

“The journey is the destination” – Dan Eldon

Seems like not too long ago, that we dreamt of building for Indian travelers, a clean, no-nonsense and non-intrusive travel product to search and book. Something that was so simple it would change the way travel was booked forever. All this, while keeping the pricing honest, choices transparent and interactions consistently positive.

From a rough sketch on a paper napkin, to millions of diehard customers, we’ve all come a long way. Forgive the pun, but what a trip it has been – lots of fun, ups & downs, loads of work & everything else that goes into a great journey!

We’ve led on the user experience front, pioneered multiple innovations consistently (split screen search, Expressway, Online amendments), championed mobile-first & taken bold positions in the journey (customer servicespam, mobile web)

It’s exhilarating that we’ve all traversed this distance together for 10-years, from strength to strength & a big, big thank-you to all of our customers and to Cleartrip’s amazing people–we’re glad to have all of you with us.

But our journey has only just begun. There’s a lot to build. With Cleartrip Local, we have reinvented the wheel again solving some of the tough problems for our customers. This combined with our world class travel product really makes us a unique choice for customers at home or while traveling.

The doers at Cleartrip made a short video of the journey. This is what our world looks like on the other side of your screens. Where real people, real madness and the real magic resides.

Nothing makes us happier than happy customers-it’s a real privilege serving the Cleartrip customer, and we will continue to deliver the promise of building awesome beautiful products.

Thank you.

Live the local life

“But a city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time.” – Patrick Geddes

Whether we are traveling or at home in our own city, why do we struggle to decide what to do over a weekend or on a free evening? Why do we have to head to the neighborhood mall, or stay home while we order in grocery and food?

After simplifying travel for a decade we asked the question, can we trip without travelling? That question led to the introduction of Cleartrip Activities last year. Since then we’ve been thinking, what comes next? How does travel and activities fit together? How do we improve a product that all of you have made so successful?

Introducing, Cleartrip Local.

Travel-Local

Cleartrip Local is a bold re-imagining of Activities and the answer to the questions we had. With 15k+ experiences catering to 200+ interests in 50+ cities, Cleartrip Local presents the most comprehensive set of experiences to go out and enjoy when you’re in your city or away travelling. With Local, we want to deliver awesome experiences in your city so that you can trip without travelling.

The Switcher

Separated from Travel by the simplest of switches, Local makes it easy for you to find the experiences you want. A completely new design makes it easier to browse through four distinct categories – Activities cater to every interest and age, Eat Out presents individually curated options for a great dining experience, Events tell you what’s happening in your city and Fitness presents a completely new way to get fit that may just, finally, help you meet your New Year’s goal.

The Weekend

Imagine waking up on a Saturday and going out for a brunch. Then drive down to a theme park to spend the rest of the day. End the day with a delicious dinner by the pool. Start Sunday with a visit to the gym, any gym. Just pick from regular gym floors, zumba, yoga and more activities and go to any gym that offers it. Spend the evening watching your favorite play or listening to your favorite artist live. You’ll be spoilt for choice.

When you want to travel, it’s easy to “switch” and book a flight or hotel. And when you want something in your city it is just as easy to switch to Local. So get up and step out, have fun, have a new experience anytime, every time.

Everyone in the team has worked really hard and burnt the midnight oil to roll this out and we’re really proud with what we’ve built here. We’ll put out more posts soon, elaborating the magic that went behind the making of Local. Meanwhile, give it a spin and do let us know what you think about it. As always drop a line to mobile@cleartrip.com.

So the next time someone asks you “What’s happening?”, just turn around and say “Lots happening!”