In business, surviving early major shocks holds the key to success. The founders of EaseMyTrip.com, one of India’s leading travel portals, did just that—deciding to endure all the initial setbacks by themselves and to not go for any sort of funding.
The saga of EaseMyTrip epitomises the guts, confidence and vision of its founders—the Pitti brothers, Nishant, Rikant and Prashant. The Delhi-based trio started their venture out of a home garage in 2008, which is now a full-fledged company with a turnover of around Rs 1,800 crore.
“We are the only profit-making travel ecommerce firm in the country,” said Nishant Pitti, the CEO of EaseMyTrip.
“We are proud to announce that our last year’s turnover was Rs 1,800 crore. Currently, we are the only firm which is making profit in this segment. Also, we are bootstrapped, which is to say that we don’t rely on any anybody else to fund us. In this way I can state that we have created a niche for ourselves.”
When asked about the factors that make easemytrip.com a lucrative venture, Nishant pointed at the company’s cost-effective spending policy. “We firmly believe that there’s no use in unnecessary spending on marketing—something which some of our competitors did. Instead, we prefer catering purely to the needs of the traveller,” he said.
There was another major path-breaking business move that EaseMyTrip came up with. Unlike their rivals, who concentrated mainly on the tourists, easymytrip.com decided to focus on travel agents. “We realised the importance of travel agents in this segment and decided to devote time to their problems. This I think was a game-changer of sorts, since travel agents play such a crucial role in this industry,” said Nishant.
Concentrating only on travel agents helped the company in more ways than one. Not only did the owners manage to cut substantial marketing costs, they also built a sizeable consumer base in no time with their door-to-door approach with travel agents. “At that time, travel agents faced difficulties and we were able to offer them timely solutions. This worked well with the travel agents, and today they account for about 30% of our trade volume,” said Nishant.
Another interesting aspect of EaseMyTrip was not indulging in mindless recruitment. Unlike many of their competitors who invested massively in hiring manpower, EaseMyTrip believed in the virtues of lean hiring. Currently, there are around 280 employees who are working with this ecommerce site at its offices across the world. “We were careful not to hire anyone from the IITs or IIMs, as we believe that in the e-commerce industry, with its wafer-thin margins, being frugal is the key,” says Nishant.
Unlike most of their competitions, who charge convenience fees from their customers, EaseMyTrip decided to focus just on giving great services. “We realised that the best form of marketing was to offer the best to our clients and that their word of mouth would be enough to ensure our growth,” said Nishant.
Customer retention is also a key area where EaseMyTrip has achieved good success. In a study, it has been shown that nearly 83% of EaseMyTrip clients have booked through this website four times. “This shows the confidence our customers have in us and it has greatly boosted our sales,” said Nishant.
“We realised the importance of travel agents in this segment and decided to devote time to their problems. This I think was a game-changer of sorts, since travel agents play such a crucial role in this industry.”
The Pitti brothers are also associated with Bollywood, and have in recent past produced a number of films, including the Irrfan Khan-starrer Madaari and Freaky Ali which stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui. This year, EaseMyTrip was among the partners of the IIFA awards, which were hosted in New York. “As far back as 2011, we began to associate ourselves with certain Bollywood movies. For instance we co-produced Madaari. We believe that in India only two things matter—Bollywood and cricket. So we were very clear that in order to create a market for ourselves we had to be associated with Bollywood stars and movies. Over the span of the last seven years, we have been doing this and we will only increase our presence in the coming time,” said Nishant.
After creating a mark in the domestic market, easemytrip.com is now focused on wooing international customers. With this in view, they have been setting up their offices abroad. Of late, they have opened offices in Thailand, Singapore and Dubai. “We have felt that most of first-time Indian tourist who go abroad are likely to visit one of these three countries. So we have our offices in these three countries,” said Nishant.
As for the future plans, EaseMyTrip wants to have offices in about 20 countries worldwide. Nishant said, “We have plans to open offices in about 20 countries. In each of these countries our offices will be serve as a single-window solution, that is, we will be catering to all the needs of the tourists—from pickup to accommodation and car rentals, to even sightseeing—all through our own employees.”