Dubai: Air travel between UAE and India – one of the world’s busiest aviation sectors – has resumed - and India-based online travel website are reaping the benefits.
“The Expo 2020 and the T20 World Cup are set to further drive leisure travel,” said Nishant Pitti, fo-founder of EaseMyTrip. “Dubai has shown strong growth since bordersopened and the region currently contributes 15 per cent of international travel.”
With a crucial market back, Pitti can finally focus on plans to expand his business internationally. “Since we are a cost-efficient company, we will look at the performance of our subsidiaries across the six international locations and then take a call on expansion plans,” said Pitti. “We may look to expand to more viable countries if we see a strong performance and value addition from our existing subsidiaries.”
Pitti, who recently received the 10-year UAE Golden Visa, said he plans to set up an air ticketing business in the Philippines, Singapore, the US, Thailand, and UK.
In a market dominated by Skycanner and Expedia, EaseMyTrip intends to take market share with aggressive pricing. "We plan to offer lower service charges on air ticket bookings as compared to the large players in these markets,” said Pitti. “We grew in India by not charging a convenience fee.”
The Expo may be a major driver of flight bookings for EaseMyTrip, but the company’s connection with the mega-event goes way beyond that. EaseMyTrip has partnered with the Indian Pavilion and is responsible for promoting the event over the next six months. “While the Expo 2020 is one of the major collaborations in UAE, EaseMyTrip aims to explore more collaborations in the region, including the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and beyond,” he added.
An IPO (initial public offering) during the travel industry’s worst crisis seems like an insane idea, but that’s exactly what EaseMyTrip did earlier this year. The risk has paid off with shares up roughly 180 per cent since the company’s listing in March, taking its market valuation to roughly $850 million.
“At a time when the travel and tourism industry witnessed a tough year, we launched our extremely successful IPO,” said Pitti. “Over the years, we have molded the company to be extremely cost-efficient and focused on creating a lean business model instead of concentrating on marketing efforts.”
EaseMyTrip launched in 2008 as an alternative to travel agents, who are sometimes known to exploit travelers by levying high charges. “We decided to bootstrap and build the business at a time when people were heavily reliant on just travel agents and the process was not very transparent,” said Pitti.
The company, which initially focused on the business-to-business (B2B) segment, started selling to individuals by 2011. “Our core selling focus has been zero convenience fee and providing products at a cheaper price. Despite this, we have maintained profitability year after year since inception.”