Superapp? Nah, India’s Ixigo Would Rather Adopt a Multi-App Strategy

Mr. Aloke Bajpai Chairman Managing Director and Group CEO ixigo and Mr. Rajnish Kumar Director and Group Co CEO ixigo 2

Skift Take

Ixigo’s got it figured out: Why go superapp when you have loyal users? Ixigo’s multi-brand, multi-app strategy meets all travel needs and makes cross-selling easy. No one-size-fits-all solution needed.

Ixigo, an Indian online travel agency, launched its IPO last month, witnessing an overwhelming demand that saw investors applying for about 98 times the number of shares offered. As the company continues to grow, one of its standout strategies is its decision to maintain multiple apps instead of consolidating them into a single comprehensive app.

At the company’s first earnings call on Thursday, Rajnish Kumar, group co-CEO of Ixigo, explained how many travel companies have successfully implemented the multi-app, multi-brand strategy. Examples include MakeMyTrip (GoIbibo, Quest2Travel, RedBus), (Ctrip, Qunar, Skyscanner), and (Agoda, Priceline, Kayak).

Kumar noted that while some of these brands were developed in-house, others were built through acquisitions or strategic investments. “In fact, most successful brands globally have deployed the House of Brands approach dismissing the concept of a super app.”

Why Multiple Apps?

Elaborating on this approach, Kumar said Ixigo follows a “multi-brand or house of brands approach” to cater to the fragmented travel needs of various demographics. This method allows for a focused and customized experience for users, depending on their dominant travel use case, according to Kumar. “For example, a frequent bus booker would build loyalty over time to a bus-focused app which would solve their needs better and with more attention to detail. Similarly, train travelers may find it more useful to keep a train-focused app on their phone than a generic travel app,” he said. This strategy not only enhances user loyalty but also allows Ixigo to cater to a broad spectrum of travel needs more effectively.

However, Kumar pointed out that inside each of these apps, Ixigo cross sells all the services that it operates so that the user would not need to switch apps for different travel needs. For instance, a customer can book a flight on the Ixigo train app or Confirmtkt app, a bus on the Ixigo flight app, and a train on the Abhibus app.

Hotel Business: Early Growth but Promising

Ixigo recently introduced a hotel booking platform and although still in its infancy, Ixigo co-founders said it shows promising growth.

Ixigo Group CEO Aloke Bajpai, said, “When we entered the hotels category we thought (just like when we entered flights) that this is a “done” category and therefore there would be little to solve for. But to our surprise, there is still a lot that is broken in this space.”

Bajpai said they are working to find solutions that solve India-specific problems when it comes to accommodation.

Kumar said while the hotel business has been growing at a double-digit rate month-on-month, but this has been from a very low base. He emphasized that Ixigo’s growth in this segment is driven solely by its captive user base, without relying on external marketing channels. This approach, he said, has resulted in minimal financial burn for the company.

Brand Advertising: Investing in Long-term Trust

While the online travel company may not rely on external marketing for its hotel segment, but over the last few years, Ixigo has significantly increased its brand advertising expenses. This shift, according to Bajpai, is part of a broader strategy to build long-term brand recall and trust among what he calls the “next billion users.” Bajpai explained that while the company spent very little on brand marketing in its first decade, recent efforts include high-profile campaigns and partnerships with regional celebrities like Rana Daggubati and Mahesh Babu. “We have seen a decent response to our recent regional campaigns with these celebrities,” he said.

Future Acquisitions: Strategy and Synergy

Ixigo has a history of strategic acquisitions that have strengthened its market position. In fiscal 2021, the company acquired ConfirmTkt, a train ticketing app. And then the acquisition of AbhiBus, a bus-focused app, has made Ixigo the second-largest player in the online bus ticketing market.

Looking ahead, Ixigo continues to evaluate potential acquisitions that align with its criteria of customer satisfaction, technology intensity, and capital efficiency. The company aims to integrate these acquisitions to maximize synergies in technology, payments, and economies of scale.

Bajpai said they would look at companies with offerings that “either strengthen one of our existing verticals or adds a complementary vertical for our future objectives.”

Financial Performance

Despite a slightly slower revenue growth of 20.4% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2024, Ixigo said it remains one of the fastest-growing players in the OTA space. Saurabh Srivastava, chief financial officer of Ixigo, emphasized that the company managed to grow volumes in its flight and train segments faster than the market, despite supply constraints and higher airfares.

Ixigo’s net income surged by 212.3% to INR 731 million in fiscal 2024, although its adjusted EBITDA grew by only 24.7% to INR 553 million. This discrepancy is attributed to exceptional gains and increased investments in brand marketing.

As Kumar said, “The scale of users we now serve is mind-boggling with 95.6 million passenger-segments booked in fiscal 2024.”

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