Many Indians especially in the metros have taken the holidays as a break and spend some quality time with family. It has extended beyond the annual visit to the grand parents. As per Ministry of Tourism, despite short and medium-term setbacks, tourism revenues are expected to rise by 42 per cent from 2007 to 2017.
As India is bitten by the travel bug Deep Kalra shares his success story with TFW.
The Franchising World (TFW): What inspired you to start this website?
Deep Kalra (DK): I’ve always had entrepreneurial ambitions. During my stint at GE Capital as the V.P. Business Development, I got the opportunity to be closely involved with the then nascent internet industry in India. After studying various verticals that could be well-suited for the Indian online market, I found that the travel industry had tremendous potential - a vast gap in the delivery standards of service levels for the average consumer left much to be desired, and MakeMyTrip was conceptualized to provide travellers with greater choice and flexibility.
TFW: How has MakeMyTrip.com evolved over the years?
DK: Our core proposition to the customer is best deals at their convenience. While the initial growth driver for MakeMyTrip was air tickets category, we could foresee that the low costs were not sustainable for airlines in the long run. Therefore, we also made efforts to grow the non-air business by offering holidays and online hotel bookings.
In October 2000, we received a favourable response from the first version of the site, from US. In India however, travellers were more inclined to research online but make the actual buying decision through cash. We had to take a hard call to stop all marketing in India; on hindsight this turned out to be one of the best decisions for the company.
By 2007, we had invested in offline presence in markets, requiring a physical touch-point. Today, we have walk-in offices in over 25 locations.
TFW: What is the USP of your website?
DK: Our core proposition to the customer is best deals at their convenience. MakeMyTrip, full-service Online Travel Agency, offers anytime, anywhere access and guaranteed best-deal prices for airfares and hotels in India. This compelling proposition makes us the portal-of-choice for SEPs (self employed professionals), SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and leisure travelers. Pure ‘leisure’ contributes to approx 50% of our flights business. We also offer hotels (online and over the phone), domestic and international holidays. Recent new offerings include Real-time Bus bookings for inter-state routes all over India and Flight plus Hotels (book together and save).
TFW: What inspired you to choose franchising as your future business model?
DK: Our franchise model has been launched in the purest form wherein the franchise office is treated and advertised as our own office. We needed to reach out to the tier two and tier three cities which generate a huge number of travellers both for domestic and international travel business. It remains a low cost model wherein our overheads stay within control, at the same time giving us unmatched penetration and connection with the masses.
Risks are limited to what any new business would be exposed to. However, in this case it is further diminished because of the association with an established brand in the travel industry.
TFW: What support will you offer to franchisees?
DK: All locations will be provided with one dedicated and experienced MMT employee. This person is the FPR (First person responsible) for that location and facilitates all transactions between the location and the head office. He is also responsible for generating all sorts of MIS reports to keep the HO well aware of the situation. MMT provides supports of media advertisements and mid-office tools to franchise staff.