75% from ho­tels to MMT biz by 2020

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.

TravTalk - India - - TECHNOLOGY - AHANA GURUNG

QWhat 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 per cent of what we’ve wanted to do and some ma­jor longterm projects will con­tinue.

QTell 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 per cent of our busi­ness. By 2020, we ex­pect it to be 75 per cent. Not so long ago, when we went pub­lic in 2010, it was 90 per cent 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.

QOther 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.

QWhat are your plans for pro­mo­tions since the funds al­lo­cated have in­creased by al­most 49 per cent?

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.

We raised $330 mil­lion this year and nd we now have about half a bil­lion dol­lars on the sheet. Clearly, th­ese are for con­tin­uedd in­vest­ments in the ho­tel space. Deep Kalra

QAre 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.

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