Deepak Rawat, Senior Vice President, International Markets, MakeMyTrip (MMT), talks about the company’s expansion in the UAE market at a time when the pandemic was at play! In the future, he believes, a common health passport and standardised rules will be critical for the growth of travel.
Consumer service is what MakeMyTrip focused on when the world came to a halt in 2020 owing to COVID-19. Now, almost a year later, Deepak Rawat looks back and says that for them, the biggest challenges at the time were the aviation and hotel industries where many changes were required by the customer. “Hence, we adapted and focused more on consumer services, ensuring that we reached out to them for anyhelp they needed. Also, we used this to work on technology to serve the customers better, and that started giving us results. Overall, cost cutting and controlling operations cost were some tough decisions we took,” he shares.
But, like it was for everyone else, domestic was the ray of hope for MMT, too. “Now we see that gradually, domestic travel has started doing well. Hence, whenever outbound starts, it will be ‘revenge travel’ and it will come back with a big bang. The time right now is about patience and ensuring that we do the right things. We are already seeing positive results, which is a very healthy sign,” indicates Rawat.
During those hard times, MMT took some new initiatives as well. “During this time, we expanded our offerings into the UAE as a plan of our expansion in the GCC. That is a big achievement for us. We are already seeing some exciting results on the region and hopefully, we will continue to expand in the GCC region,” he says.
Bowing to technology
With the world embracing technology in this period, even brick-and-mortar agencies shifted to online sales, which earlier was a threat to them. Coexistence is the way forward, Rawat agrees, saying, “Technology is something we will have to live with. The virtual world and touchless travel will be more relevant. Anybody and everybody who adapts to the changing world will see the results of the new trends. Going ahead, it’s being up to the mark in terms of technology offerings that will help us reach out to customers or give them the experience and motivate them to come and travelwith us. This will decide where the customer will go. Some companies have made good progress already,” he informs.
What works, according to Rawat, is giving a seamless experience of booking, ensuring that the right information isgiven to customers. “By state and country, the rules were changing and giving accurate information to the customer was important for him to decide. There were many things to be considered, including registering on the Air Suvidha portal and thevarious quarantine rules in different states. Apart from that, it was critical that we worked closely with hotel partners in developing safety standards,” he shares.
He adds that today, hotels and flights are getting better. The first to catch the eye of the customer were long weekends and driveable locations. “We have worked on those packages as we could see consumer demand for them. We also saw short-stay domestic packages doing very well in pockets like Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir and Kerala. I believe, with summer holidays, it is only going to grow, as people will be more open to breaks and hopefully, with the vaccination drive going on in full swing, we will see a positive impact on travel,” adds Rawat. He believes that standardised rules will also play a critical role in the resumption of travel.