Rajesh Magow, MakeMyTrip

Rajesh Magow is the co-founder and CEO of India’s MakeMyTrip. He played a key role in many of the online travel company’s milestones, including its listing on the NASDAQ in 2010 and its merger with the Ibibo Group.

Magow served as a director on Flipkart’s board and also served as CFO and acting CEO for the India operations of eBookers.com, now part of Travelport.

In early September, Phocuswright published his All India Market Report, which provides a comprehensive view of India’s tourism market, including detailed market sizing and forecasts, distribution trends, analysis of major tourism segments and key developments. Below, PhocusWire talks to the Co-Founder and Group CEO of India’s leading online travel company, MakeMyTrip.

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What have been the biggest changes in your role since taking over as CEO of MakeMyTrip Group from CEO of the India business in 2020?

Honestly, there’s no real change in the true meaning of the role when I see it through the co-founder lens. Technically, some additional responsibility, but as a co-founder one ends up taking joint ownership of the overall business performance in any case.

How far has MakeMyTrip advanced in its super app ambitions?

We have come a long way in creating a one-stop shop for Indian travelers. Staying true to our vision of making MakeMyTrip the first port of call for every Indian traveller, we today offer every single travel use case: all types of transport for intercity travel, airport taxi transfers, all types of accommodation, package products, ancillary products like food , insurance, currency and innovative fintech travel products like Book Now, Pay Later, Instant Consumer Loans and more on our platform.

What are your strategic priorities in and outside India for the next 12 months?

Coming out of the pandemic, the immediate priority is to get business back to pre-pandemic levels and then grow from there at an accelerated pace to make up for lost time. We have made investments in key areas such as strengthening our corporate business proposition for both SMEs and large enterprises; built the MyPartner platform (a B2BC initiative!); we have strengthened our homestay offerings; launched RedRail, the lightest rail booking app, and Ryde, an intercity taxi offering under Redbus; created affiliate offer to power other platforms like Amazon Pay, leading banking portals etc. to acquire new customers. All these initiatives will help us grow faster in the coming years.

MakeMyTrip reported a strong recovery in the first quarter of fiscal 2023, which you attributed to an increase in demand. How concerned are you about threats like inflation or recession affecting the business?

Yes, we were pleased to report a strong recovery in the business in the first quarter of fiscal 2023, as well as the last several profitable quarters at the adjusted EBIT level. The recovery momentum was the result of pent-up demand after the pandemic. Today, while the COVID restrictions and people’s fears are largely over, we are witnessing inflationary pressures in the market, albeit weaker than the rest of the world due to rising crude oil prices. Oil prices have fallen a bit in the recent past and hopefully this trend will continue and help reduce inflationary pressures.

You also reported “continued growth opportunity” in your residential segment. How do you plan to take advantage of this opportunity?

We are excited about the homestay opportunity, which is fast emerging as a major segment in India’s travel and tourism ecosystem. Over the last few years we have been investing behind strengthening our homestay offering.

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We are excited about the homestay opportunity, which is fast emerging as a major segment in India’s travel and tourism ecosystem.

Rajesh Magow

On the supply side, we have coverage of more than 1,100 cities and are looking to go deeper. We created ‘Be a Host’, an in-app feature that allows hosts to list their accommodation with just a few clicks. Hosts can now list their property within 15 minutes, complete the entire onboarding process in 24 hours and, if needed, manage bookings across multiple properties – all on one platform.

On the demand side, we saw 150% growth in consumer demand over the pre-pandemic period. We have sold more than 25,000 unique properties in the last 2 years. The traction gives us confidence that the segment will have a bigger play in times to come in the homestay business.

We also recently completed India’s Favorite Families Awards – a first-of-its-kind award dedicated to homestays in partnership with a leading media house. Our endeavor is to encourage the homestay community for their significant contribution to the tourism and hospitality industry in India.

Can you give an update on MakeMyTrip’s relationship with Amazon? How has it allowed you to expand into smaller markets?

Amazon Pay offers an interesting opportunity to reach consumers in smaller cities given its large presence across the country. The partnership, as conceived, helped us expand our reach to new customers in smaller towns as well as cities. New users, with a contribution of almost 40%, continue to be a strong source of bookings on Amazon.

You also have a partnership with Flipkart-owned payment provider PhonPe. Has this partnership raised concerns given that Flipkart owns rival Cleartrip?

Not exactly! Flipkart and PhonePe are run quite independently.

How do these partnerships help MakeMyTrip compete with other major online players with a presence in India?

We are proud to have created India’s top three travel brands based on best recall that have stood the test of time for innovation, reliability and trust from Indian travelers. As a result, most of our traffic is direct and organic. Amazon Pay, PhonePe and GooglePay are the platforms that help us expand our reach to users in smaller cities while controlling the customer experience and service delivery.

How has your relationship with Trip.com Group evolved since the company became a key investor? What do you learn from them?

Trip.Com has built a leading business in China and is now expanding internationally. We have learned a lot from their extensive experience in building a successful group over the years in the online travel space. We continue to collaborate regularly with them at a strategic level.

You have diversified into the B2B space with MyBiz and MyPartner. What are the opportunities and challenges to move into this segment?

We saw huge opportunities in both the business travel segment and long-tail retail demand.

The conventional corporate travel business model means a travel agency staffed by implants from travel companies. We saw a clear opportunity here to leverage our core technology strength to build traveler-friendly and transparent solutions for corporations.

We already serve more than 44,000 SMEs on our MYBiz platform and around 200 large enterprises on our Enterprise solution.

MyPartner also has a strong business potential with more than 31,000 travel agents serving the needs of their customers. Our expertise here is to extend our reach to customers through traditional retail long-term search agents.

If you weren’t traveling, what career would you pursue?

Honestly, I never got a chance to think about it as the MakeMyTrip journey has been very exciting and I believe the best is yet to come! Outside of travelling, I have a keen interest in following almost all sports and play a few of them to keep fit.

What advice would you give to young people entering the travel tech space today?

Entering any technology business offers a very exciting opportunity and the journey is no different. I would say go into it thinking it might be long and stay relentlessly focused on delivering innovative solutions to solve consumer or business problems.

India Tourism Market Report 2021-2025

This report provides a comprehensive view of the India tourism market, including detailed market sizing and forecasts, distribution trends, analysis of major tourism segments, key developments, and more.

https://www.phocuswire.com/ceo-interview-rajesh-magow-makemytrip

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