ixigo, a travel and hotel booking e-commerce entity, has evolved into a leading player in the tourism and hospitality sector. BE’s Ankit Singh spoke to Rajnish Kumar, Co-founder and CTO, ixigo.
Q. What is ixigo's business model and USP?
A. ixigo allows its customer to compare and book from more than 120 travel suppliers and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) for flights, hotels, trains, cabs and destinations. We started with our flagship product - an air travel and hotel reservation app - that targeted consumers mainly from tier I cities. Over the course of time, we realised that we had to target tier II and III cities. This led to the creation of a separate train app, targeting budget travellers from those cities. Our biggest USP is our focus on constant innovation, combined with our mission to solve the smallest of pain-points of our customers. We have launched innovative features like live running status, Siri shortcuts and an AR feature, which allows train passengers to locate their coach positions at more than 7,000 railway stations across India.
Q. Why would customers choose your product?
A. Our aim is to provide a seamless experience to our customers. In order to ensure this, we have built a really simple, easy to use and localised app that is lightweight and works offline. Our Android app (Android being the largest platform for the next billion users) is less than 10 MB in size. Our train app is available in seven Indian languages including English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil and Kannada. We are also the first players to experiment with AI and an automated voice response system and have created a virtual travel assistant ‘TARA'. Today, the maximum of our customer support queries are being addressed by this virtual travel assisting technology.
Q. Who are your target customers?
A. Our focus in the coming year is to drive faster growth in the next billion users segment hailing from tier II, III and IV cities in India. We aim to achieve this growth in train, bus, and budget hotel and first-time flyers segments by continuing to build innovative experiences for travellers in India.
Q. How does your company ensure better services as compared to competing players?
A. We have launched multiple apps in quick succession, two of which have now become leading apps for train travellers and flight bookers. Our dual-app strategy has allowed us to be relevant to the evolved tier 1 travellers and also to the aspiring middle class and tier II, III and IV travellers. The other big shift in thinking has been our bet on AI. We have realised the long-term potential of the next billion users by taking a deeper bet than our competitors on categories such as trains. In terms of technology, we have been fairly versatile in trying out new features. This has helped us to build trust without spending millions on marketing.