SAIF Partners and MakeMyTrip-backed travel search engine iXiGO is garnering about a million unique visitors a month, its co-founder Aloke Bajpai told Techcircle. Sharing how the company has grown in the past few years, Bajpai said, "In 2011, we grew 1.5 times and are currently growing 60 per cent year-on-year. With our analytics, we are able to track users till the actual booking happens and we can know the total number of clickouts also. So, we know that we are enabling around 1,500 transaction through our portal every day."
Founded in 2007 by Bajpai, the Gurgaon-based travel search company recently launched trip planner which allows users to input their travel details (to and from destination) and presents assorted travel-related content (in the form of infographics) like transportation mode (flight, train, bus and cab), driving directions and additional information about destinations.
iXiGO raised its last round of funding of $18.5 million in August, 2011, from SAIF Partners and MakeMyTrip. "We are spending strategically and even before the fund raise, we were profitable so we don't really need to raise another round of funding anytime soon. Also, for now, we are focusing on making the trip planner product successful and ensuring we can answer more and more queries," Bajpai said.
Talking about the competition from the OTAs and the prospect of a scalable market opportunity for non-transactional travel sites (basically focused on content and information), he said that both have well-defined markets. "Even though all OTAs would say that they are also focusing on content and building the technology, just by virtue of where the management bandwidth goes into and the kind of DNA that company has, these new-age travel portals are much closer to the consumers and have more focus on the product. This is simply because we are not focused on how to monetise from the visitor. We just come early in the planning of travel by a customer. Fundamentally, these two companies or sectors are very different. Companies like us are going after the consumer, who is still in the research phase of planning the holiday."
Bajpai spoke to Techcircle about a possible route to acquisition or merger with bigger OTAs (especially MakeMyTrip), the company's marketing strategy and near-term expansion plans in a candid chat. Watch this space for full interview.
(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)