As local and international travel starts to pick up, we caught up with Vipul Prakash, Chief Operating Officer at online travel giant MakeMyTrip to find out how the company evolved over the years, how it continues to provide value to its consumers, and what they do to encourage budding entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams.
Dubai Diaries: Tell us about the idea behind MakeMyTrip and its journey this far.
Vipul Prakash: MakeMyTrip is a pioneer in online travel industry. Founded in the year 2000 by Deep Kalra, MakeMyTrip came to life to empower the traveller with instant bookings and comprehensive travel choices available with just a few clicks online. The company initiated its journey serving the US-India travel market offering a range of best-value products and services powered by technology and round-the-clock customer support.
After consolidating its position in the market as a brand recognised for its reliability and transparency, MakeMyTrip launched its India operations in 2005. With more and more Indians initiating to transact online with Indian Railways and new opportunities with the advent of low cost carriers, MakeMyTrip offered travellers the convenience of booking travel online with a few clicks. With untiring determination, MakeMyTrip has proactively diversified its product offering, adding a variety of online and offline products and services. MakeMyTrip has stayed ahead of the curve by continually evolving its technology to meet the ever-changing demands of the rapidly developing global travel market, steadily establishing itself as leading online travel company.
We recently completed twenty years of operations in India but as one of the leading online travel platforms in the region, we have been catering to the travel needs of people in and around India for a long while. This is true especially for Indian expatriates who are well aware of MakeMyTrip’s products and services and trusted brand offerings. We see our expansion into GCC as a great opportunity for us to establish our presence in the region and provide the benefits of one-stop-travel-shop to travellers as they will now be able to book their flights, hotels, experiences – all in one place.
DD: What is your strategy for growing the platform in the region?
VP: MakeMyTrip is scripting its ambitious expansion plans in the region in line with its predictions for the travel and tourism industry to be the first to witness not just a quick recovery but a strong one at that. We are set to enter Saudi Arabia as part of our ambitious expansion plans in the GCC region. The company has geared up to redefine the travel experience in the post-pandemic marketplace with a new range of customised and technology-enabled products and an Arabic language portal, as we predict an early and strong recovery for the travel and tourism trade in the UAE region.
Within a short span of time, since our launch in April 2020, we have been successful in making deeper inroads into the market and our app downloads are already in the similar range as existing travel players here. Our biggest differentiator is the full-suite of travel offerings that are offered on a single platform – helping customers book their end-to-end journey in just a few clicks. Now travellers can discover, choose, and book travel options without switching between platforms to book their flight, hotel or their preferred holiday packages.
DD: How do you encourage young talent to explore new ideas and opportunities?
VP: MakeMyTrip is built on the values of customer focus, commitment to results and continuous improvement and intrinsically encourages its employees to be curious, creative & caring as they deliver impactful solutions for the customers. Our employees get unrestricted access to some of the most brilliant minds in the business –encouraging young talent to learn from the unparalleled experience and expertise of leaders and other great performers. To nurture and grow talent, we run an idea-thon on a periodic basis allowing talent to share new, creative and innovative tech-enabled solutions that can help solve or elevate experience of our travellers. As we actively promote deep collaboration amongst our employees, we ensure that our talent has anytime access to our leadership to share ideas and solutions –be it big or small.
DD: What’s next for MakeMyTrip?
VP: We forayed into the market in April 2020 and since then the journey has been encouraging despite the pandemic. We are bullish on the amazing opportunities that this market has to offer and are confident that in the coming months, we will be able to truly transform travel experience of discerning travellers in UAE and other GCC countries. Our biggest differentiator is the fact that we are a one stop travel shop – helping you book your flights, hotels or curated holiday packages with just a few taps on the app. Now travellers can discover, choose, and book travel options without switching between different apps. At MakeMyTrip, we are looking forward to pass on the numerous benefits of booking through a single app to our customers across GCC.
Having launched in the UAE in English, we recently launched the platform in Arabic suiting the local market’s linguistic needs. Also, as part of our long-term strategy, we hope to introduce our exhaustive outbound holiday inventory – that currently focuses on short-haul travel within GCC or to countries that are within five to six hours of air travel including UK, Singapore, Maldives and Thailand among others. Soon, we will be foraying into other countries within GCC.