While MakeMyTrip’s losses have considerably widened during the year’s first quarter, Deep Kalra, Chairman & Group CEO, plans to accelerate growth in the hotel segment by continuing to offer deep discounts and investing in other companies.
Q What has been going on in the backdrop of the Ibibo Group acquisition?
A lot of progress has been made in the past six months (from February), and we’ve managed to integrate a lot of the tech platforms (consciously not all – we don’t want to boil the ocean because that’s tough). We’ve managed to look at the best of the processes from both and managed to get one brand or another to use the other, but most importantly, we’ve managed to integrate the people. The company has been growing these past few months with very little hiccups. Perhaps by the end of the year, we’ll be able to say we’ve achieved 95 percent of what we’ve wanted to do and some major longterm projects will continue.
Q Tell us about MMT’s Q1 2017 results?
We crossed $1 billion gross bookings during the first quarter. In terms of revenues, we raked in over $140 million net revenue. Hotels, which is our strategic area, contributes 57 percent of our business. By 2020, we expect it to be 75 percent. Not so long ago, when we went public in 2010, it was 90 percent air travel. Now air has come down to the 30s of our business but we also have this interesting bus business coming in from RedBus. Holistically, this is now looking like a healthier product mix which an OTA should have. We raised $330 million this year and we now have about half a billion dollars on the sheet. Clearly, these are for continued investments in the hotel space. But we now also have a kitty that we can use to make other strategic investments, so we’re constantly looking at companies we could invest in.
Q Other international OTAs like Booking. com are increasingly gaining traction in the country. What’s your strategy to counter competition?
Whatever the consumer pinpoints, we’ve found solutions for it and that has been our USP. We also study our cohorts and focus on improving tech – we are studying algorithms based on big data, analytics as well as artificial intelligence in order to serve our customers. A third of our customers are being exposed to chatbots and they love the experience. This way we continue to scale up in the industry and much faster.
Q What are your plans for promotions since the funds allocated have increased by almost 49 percent?
Our promotions are majorly targeted at the Indian consumer but we are focused on accelerating the growth of hotel bookings online. Most of these promotions are on television, like discounts and coupons, and as people get used to the medium and appreciate the real convenience, then even with typically smaller discounts, they don’t go anywhere.
Q Are you still focused on budget hotels as well?
Budget hotels for us is a very important area. We have partnered with new-age budget hotel aggregators and now have our own sub-brands in the form of HomeStays, Value+ and MMT Assured Hotels and are putting a lot of focus in this too.
MMT launches MyBusiness for SMEs
In a bid to tap into the growing corporate travel segment in India, MakeMyTrip has launched MyBusiness, a convenient, transparent and efficient self-booking tool on the MMT app. The tool will help keep control in the hands of the company while providing corporate travel benefits and savings for all. MyBusiness will not only make businesses of any size avail best corporate travel deals but will also bring down friction in the expense process. By introducing the new corporate wallet on MyBusiness, the companies will be able to reduce payment inefficiencies, liabilities and potential corporate card abuse – in turn providing employees and companies greater flexibility. This would be supported via dedicated corporate helpdesks which will be operational 24×7.
“We raised $330 million this year and we now have about half a billion dollars on the sheet. Clearly, these are for continued investments in the hotel space” – Deep Kalra, Chairman & Group CEO, MakeMyTrip