“Dil toh roaming hai” par lockdown ne pankh kaat liye hai. Since 100+ days of lock down and cancellation of all international travel, my holiday plans did undergo some easy adjustments. Yes, that was only because I booked my airline ticket and confirmed my hotel stay with India’s most successful e-travel company, Make My Trip. The convenience of planning and postponing/rescheduling holidays which was once a cumbersome task has become easier now. So, how and who made it happen? This is the inspiring story of Deepak Kalra and his start-up Make My Trip, a company that is now India’s leading and #1 travel website.
It was the foresight of Deepak Kalra in the year 2000, who on one hand envisioned an exponential rise in the number of Indian nationals traveling abroad and on the other hand, growth in the number of internet users in the country. The number of international travelers rose from 4.42 million in 2000 to over 26.3 million in 2019. Internet users increased from 5.5 million in 2000 to 525 million in 2019. Thus, was born ‘MakeMy Trip’ a company that could empower the traveler by providing online travel services like flight tickets, domestic and international holiday packages, hotel reservations, rail, and bus tickets, through their website or mobile app
Today Make My Trip which is listed on the NASDAQ, has 14 company-owned travel stores in 14 cities, over 30 franchisee-owned travel stores in 28 cities, and counters in four major airports in India. The company has offices in New York, Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur.
The idea, inception, increase
The idea for the start-up germinated when Deepak Kalra saw the opportunities the internet offered when he tried to sell his wife’s car online. Soon after, while booking a family holiday to Thailand, he thought why not use the internet to establish a travel platform by cutting out the middleman. This idea founded MakeMyTrip (MMT).
The inception happened in 2000 in USA. Deep Kalra, an alumnus of IIM-Ahmedabad first launched Make My Trip website in America to expedite the imminent travel needs of the overseas Indian community. After a successful run in the US, MakeMyTrip started Indian operations in September 2005, by offering online air ticketing. Headquartered in Gurugram, Haryana, the company now provides flight tickets, holiday packages, hotel and alternative-stay bookings, rail tickets, intercity bus tickets and third-party travel insurance, and visa processing.
The increase in the company portfolio was imminent. Deepak Kalra, after the success of the Make My Trip model in the US, was certain could emulate the same or greater success in India. Make My Trip started to raise funds for its growth. To date, it has received USD 548 Million. It came in tranches of:
- USD 10 million (Series A) Tiger Fund, Helion Venture Partners, Sierra Ventures & SAIF Partners, May 2005,
- USD 13 million (Series B) Helion Venture Partners, Sierra Ventures & SAIF Partners, December 2006,
- USD 15 million (Series C) Tiger Fund, Helion Venture Partners, Sierra Ventures, SAIF Partners, October 2007,
- USD 180 million (IPO) Ctrip, January 2016, and
- USD 330 million (IPO) Ctrip, Prosus & Naspers, March 2017.
Over the years, MMT has acquired wholly or a stake in the following organizations: –
- Luxury Tours and Travel Pvt Ltd, Singapore, May 2011
- Travenues Technology Private Limited, India, owners of Ixigo.com, August 2011
- My Guest House Accommodation, November 2011
- HotelTravel.com from Hotel Travel Group of Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia for USD 25 million in November 2012
- Easytobook.com, Netherlands for USD 5 million in Feb 2014
- MyGola, a travel planning website, April 2015
- An 18% stake in travel startup Inspirock, USA in June 2015.
- 30% stake in HolidayIQ, India, July 2015
- Ibibo Group for USD 720 million in January 2017
- Quest2Travel, May 2019
Awards and Recognition
The stellar performance of MMT has led to a long list of awards and accolades. The company has won numerous awards conferred upon by airlines and by other eminent travel business entities. Here are some of the awards listed year wise :-
- ET Brand Equity DigiPlus Awards – Silver for Best B2C Campaign, India, Get a Room (2020)
- PR Week Asia – Silver for category Brand Development (Service) – #Befikarbookkar (2019)
- Express IT award- Best Ecommerce solution Provider (2018)
- Outlook Traveller Reader’s Choice Travel Awards – Best Travel Portal India (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
- World Travel Awards- Best Travel Portal India (2013, 2014)
- Lonely Planet Award -Best Travel Facilitator, Indian (2012, 2013)
- CNBC Awaaz Travel Award – Best Travel Portal India (2009, 2013)
- Travel Distribution World Asia Awards – Best Travel Innovator (2012)
- Franchise India award – Retailer of the Year (2012)
- IMINT Shoppers and Consumer Insights Awards – Most Preferred Travel and Holiday Website (2010)
- Singapore Airlines – Top agents award (2010-11); Top Passenger Agent (2007-08)
- Malaysia airlines – Top Agent Award (2007, 2009, 2010)
- Cathay Pacific – Outstanding performance (2007, 2009)
- Consumer Superbrands India – Super Brand (2009)
- Air Canada – Outstanding Performance (2008)
- Air Mauritius – All India Top Ten Agent/Top North India Sales Award (2007-08)
- All India Top Ten Agent/Top North India Sales Award (2006-07)
- British Airways – Outstanding Revenue Contribution (2007-08)
- Lufthansa – Outstanding Performance (2006-07)
- Indian Airlines – Achieving Highest Domestic Passenger Sales (2006-07)
- Kingfisher Airlines – Outstanding Performance (2006-07)
- Jet Airways – Award of Excellence (2005-06)
- Air India – Outstanding Contribution to Passenger Sales (2005-06)
Make MyTrip Subsidiaries
MMT’s subsidiaries are:-
- Easy to Book Holding B.V.,
- ITC Group,
- Luxury Tours & Travel Pte Limited,
- Quest2travel.com India Pvt. Ltd.,
- Hotel Travel Ltd.,
- Travis Internet Private Limited,
- MakeMyTrip (India) Private Limited, and
- Makemytrip.com Inc.
May falter but will be fine
Deep Kalra, the founder, has guided MakeMy Trip from its inception days. He has been an inspiration to many startups.
What started as a USD 2 million company with cofounders Sachin Bhatia and Keyur Joshi is today valued at over USD 100 million. In February 2020, Deepak Kalra stepped down from the post of CEO to take up the role of the Group Executive Chairman. He now aims to pursue strategic initiatives at MMT. From increasing competition, thinner margins, tax evasion probe, Deepak Kalra surely has his hands full. Until now, the team at the helm has steered the company through tough times by staying ahead of the curve. It is now the responsibility of co-founder and Group CEO Rajesh Magow to continue in the direction of success and profitability.
I have no doubt MakeMy Trip, India’s leading online travel company may falter in COVID-19 times but in due course all will be fine. People like me will resume travel once the corona virus restrictions are eased. Till then, let’s think of the travel ban as a blessing and stay safe.