Ebix plans to build on its past success by creating a global platform for MICE, promoting domestic tourism through ‘Chalo Bharat Dekhe’, and expanding into the cruise segment, shares Naveen Kundu, MD, EbixCash Travel Services.
Ebix, a technology company with a focus on travel and insurance, had a successful year in 2022. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the company was able to reengineer its corporate and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) businesses. In the MICE business, Ebix organized 252 groups in 71 locations across 16 countries for over 50,000 people. “The company’s performance in this segment was one of the best in India, and it reflects the resurgence of MICE business as the pandemic recedes,” shared Naveen Kundu, Managing Director, EbixCash Travel Services.
Kundu emphasized that their focus in 2022 was on business travel, which proved to be a successful year for the company in that area. “While the average recovery rate for businesses was 67 per cent, Ebix’s business was up by 147 per cent compared to 2019. The company added 1.3 million additional airline segments in the LCC (Low Cost Carrier) space and GDS (Global Distribution System) space in 2020 and 2022. Ebix was profitable in 2022, while others were still recovering their losses. The company also did well in its inbound section, with a faster than expected recovery in inbound travel to India. All clients who used Ebix as a destination management company for India returned to the company, and the business picked up from September and October 2022,” he said.
Luxury train segment
Ebix’s luxury train business, which the company developed 5-6 years ago, continues to do well. “We have a dominant position in the luxury train segment with a market share of 56 per cent, which increases to 70-80 per cent in some departures for Palace on Wheels and Maharajas’ Express, the two trains we operate. Undoubtedly, we are the largest and leading managers of luxury trains in India, with no competition even remotely close to us. In addition to our B2B business and online platforms, we have also recovered to pre-COVID levels in the Philippines and Indonesia and are registering profits there. We have recently launched our destination management company in Dubai, in addition to our existing online travel platform. I’m delighted to share that the company began operations in July and has already served more than 5,000 customers. Overall, it has been a good year, and we are optimistic about having a strong performance in 2023,” said Kundu.
Global MICE platform
Focusing on the MICE segment, Kundu shared, “We are currently in the process of building our global MICE platform, following on from our achievements last year. As a company operating in the ASEAN region, we are putting together teams and a mechanism to expand our MICE services in Dubai, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. In addition, we plan to leverage our highly regarded business travel technology tool, Zillious, to offer our services to corporate clients and travel agencies in these regions. As a technology company, we are confident that this tool will enable us to successfully expand our services throughout the ASEAN region.”
Speaking of their new campaign launch, Kundu shared, “We have launched the Chalo series to cater to the holiday segment, and I have been actively promoting India as a destination. Chalo Bharat Dekhe, our India holidays business, is being launched with a unique approach. We have contracted hotels in almost 407 pin codes across India, which will be exclusively available to Ebix clients. This offering will be pushed through our entire distribution channel, including B2B, B2C, and corporate channels. Our unique approach involves identifying pin locations, which aligns with the Prime Minister’s vision of promoting domestic tourism under Dekho Apna Desh. This year, we will heavily promote Chalo Bharat Dekhe and expect it to be a successful venture.”
In addition, Ebix has launched its entire cruise division, signing up passenger sales agreements with Resort World Cruises, Cordelia Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, AMAwaterways, and Holland Line. The company is now the PSF (Preferred Sales Force) of five cruise liners. The company plans to focus on the cruise segment in the coming years. According to him, while a 10-day holiday package in Europe would cost over 3,000 euros, the same experience on a cruise would only cost $1,000. “I’m now promoting the idea of holding conferences or taking a holiday on a cruise,” he said.
Speaking about the Union government’s recent budget decision to close all overseas tourism offices and promote India as a destination through their embassies, Kundu said, “The government’s focus on partnering with local PR companies to enhance promotion efforts is also encouraging, as I have been advocating this for six years.”