India‘s leading travel aggregator ixigo has announced its foray into the hotel segment after launching hotel search and booking feature on its platform. The company has made the feature live for hotels at few destinations in India as of now and plan to scale up its offerings and inventory in next few months, revealed ixigo’s Co-Founder & CEO.
In a candid interaction with Aloke Bajpai, the Co-Founder and group CEO of ixigo, ETTravelWorld dove deep into ixigo’s game-changing plans of venturing into hotels and some intriguing insights, expectations, and the roadmap for this pivotal move. He said it’s the ‘most exciting’ development for the company now after launching Gen-AI feature ‘Plan’ on its portals.
Bajpai acknowledged that this new development has been in the works for some time now, as they aim to transition into a more transactional model, akin to an Online Travel Agency (OTA) for hotels. Although it’s still not fully rolled out, Aloke anticipates a broader rollout by the end of the current quarter.
The learning curve
With the unique demographic and psychographic composition of ixigo’s customer base, predominantly from tier 2, 3, and 4 cities and the middle to lower-middle-income groups, Bajpai emphasised the need for humility in approaching this segment. He stated that the initial phase would be all about learning: understanding their customers’ preferences, expectations from accommodation, and what type of supply will gain traction in this segment.”These early quarters are pivotal for ixigo to grasp and adapt to the evolving dynamics of this diverse customer base,” he mentioned during the conversation post launch of a new travel credit card in Delhi for which ixigo has partnered with AU Small Finance Bank.
The ixigo Group CEO described the foray into hotel bookings as a substantial step for ixigo. He noted that many of their users were still resorting to offline methods when it came to accommodation, like arriving at a destination and searching for last-minute lodging options. “ixigo aims to bridge this gap, encouraging users to adopt online hotel booking behavior.” Bajpai highlighted that currently, only 20 per cent of hotel bookings are made online in India, signifying an immense opportunity to penetrate this market.
When questioned about the type of inventory ixigo intends to offer, Bajpai emphasized a learning curve, stating that they would initially focus on understanding their users’ preferences. Over time, they plan to build a deeper inventory, aligning it with what their user base demands and what suits their needs. Bajpai also shared a notable financial development from the company in the recent quarters. He revealed that ixigo has maintained a positive cash EBITDA ever since emerging from the Covid-19 impact, except for the affected quarters. “Even last year, we managed not just positive EBITDA but also a positive cash flow. Looking ahead, we anticipate this positive trajectory to continue,” he stated.
ixigo is aiming for more than a 6x growth rate, an impressive target that seeks to bolster company’s already strong presence in the online travel market.