The money spent on travel is money spent well! And to make your “Yatra” even more pleasurable and the money spent much satisfactory, Yatra.com, a decade old online travel agent (OTA), is committed to creating happy travels with its huge hotel and travel agent network.
“Yatra has a hard-to-duplicate infrastructure including the largest Indian hotel network (62,000+) and more than 14,000 travel agents in over 1,100 cities and towns. At Yatra, we have always been at the forefront of technology innovation in the online travel space. We have introduced travel Industry’s first Voice Search feature and the first OTA to introduce UPI on its website”, says Yatra.com Co-Founder Sabina Chopra.
Yatra had approximately 4.4 million cumulative customers as of June 30, 2016 and Gross Bookings of $897 million in fiscal year 2016, and since its inception (2006) has been providing cost-effective “Yatra” experiences.
Excerpts from an exclusive interaction with Sabina Chopra of Yatra.com:
Background of Promoter
My first job was with Japan Airlines. As I was a fresher, my priority was to understand aviation as an industry to dig in deep in to the metrics to learn more. One of the few most important lessons my first job taught me were, hard work and professionalism is of utmost importance. I later joined ebookers, Europe’s largest online travel company as the Head of sales. It was an exhilarating and rewarding experience.
My journey in travel industry has been a thrilling roller-coaster ride and I have enjoyed every bit of it. Over the years I have learnt that being focused, hands on, approachable, respecting all colleagues are some of the best qualities a leader should have. Also, to groom and mentor your team for growth and leadership positions is extremely important.
The initial period- the challenges & the ecstasy of quick wins
The biggest challenge was to change the mindset of the Indian audiences and gain their trust to start booking online. Also, a major challenge that we faced was hiring the right talent. Getting people to apply for a job was very difficult since, no one wanted to work in a start-up in 2006. So, we had few of our friends join us and they helped us kick start our venture.
Moreover, the infrastructure at that point in time was not ideal to start an online company since majority of the people were accessing Internet over a dial up. Airlines, too, were wary of online travel distribution since they weren’t sure of how this would impact their business. Hence, gaining their trust was another challenge.
On the technology front, while the international airline information was available on the global distribution platforms, some of the recently launched Low Cost Carriers at that time were on their own platforms which made integrating into them very challenging. Also, majority of the hotels did not have any technology for distributing their inventory online in a real time manner hence, there was a lot of engineering effort that went into creating platforms for the smaller budget hotels to be able to manage the online distribution of their rates and inventor.
Strategic Alliances & Partnerships
The tie-ups or associations have given OTAs the much needed boost to grow their business and expand. Our strategic partnership with Reliance Jio with a preloaded Yatra app on 35 million phones will be instrumental in our growth. It has given us a platform to reach the large traveller-base in tier II & III markets that transacts through offline channels, and is expected to drive down customer acquisition cost.
Additionally, the increasing penetration of smartphones and the mobile internet especially in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, is going to further drive the online travel market.
In order to give a seamless experience to our customers, we have integrated with Truecaller, Cab aggregators – Ola & Uber, Unified Payment Interface. In order to promote homestays, we have partnered with the Government of Andhra Pradesh & Uttrakhand and plan to add more state tourism boards.
The future, as you see, 3 years from now in terms of scope & scale of your business enterprise
Yatra is well positioned to capitalize on industry growth. With the largest hotel inventory amongst all OTAs and a strategic alliance with Reliance Jio we are looking at the tier 2 and 3 markets in India. Our focus will also be on building a loyal customer base and investing in growth efficiently. Differentiating through product innovation- We will be looking at strengthening and integrating our technology platform to innovate and deploy faster. We will also be looking at maximizing our outreach with a multi-channel strategy and creating an online marketplace linking customers and suppliers.
Key moments of reckoning in business life
-When we convinced venture capitalists to put money in a business concept (OTA) which was just about taking roots in India
-When Yatra became the 12thIndian company to be listed on the Nasdaq
-Yatra rated as the most trusted Online Travel Agency for the 2nd year in succession, ahead of all other OTAs in India in the annual ‘Brand Equity Most Trusted Brands Survey – 2016’
-Launch of our new brand identity which reflects the richness of the product & services Yatra offers.