MakeMyTrip betting big on alternative accommodations

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    NEW DELHI : MakeMyTrip’s co-founder and group chief executive Rajesh Magow said India’s leisure travel is set to grow by leaps and bounds as the travel operator looks to scale up businesses launched during the pandemic, including forex, homestays, and bus and rail bookings.

    Leisure travel will continue to be the focus for MakeMyTrip, even as Indians return to workplaces, opening up business travel after being grounded during the past two years because of the pandemic, he said

    “Indians will take one to two long-stay holidays a year and at least three to four short stays primarily because companies have become more flexible with their employees, giving them the freedom to travel. For such travel, people are also going to look for alternative accommodations like homestays,” he said.

    Homestays, he said, was a completely new initiative the company launched during covid, and today MakeMyTrip has about 30,000 properties. “What we refer to as alternative accommodation within our company is very interesting in India and not many people fully understand that it is very different from the global market. In the Indian market, given that we understand the market better than anyone else, we decided to get into this space and the business is continuing to grow,” Magow said.

    He said unlike in other parts of the world, there are three or four sub-segments in the types of properties that exist in the alternative accommodations business and not every homestay is a villa. There are also apartments; serviced apartments in business cities, which can range from flats to hostels, which may differ from hostels, villas, cottages, tents and flats in leisure cities.

    “Several initiatives like these are helping growth (of the company) specifically because of the flexibility of the consumers. People are picking up these kinds of accommodations, especially millennials etc., prefer homestays, and I don’t think there will be a drop in the demand even though people are going back to offices,” he added.

    He said the industry is not only seeing pent-up demand for “domestic travel”, but also pent-up demand for travel abroad. Indians are travelling to Southeast Asia, especially to locations like Thailand, since locations like Goa have become fairly expensive. “Europe and the other countries, while they have massive visa issues right now and there’s frustration, are still willing to travel,” he said. He added that he does not think this is going to come in the way of domestic travel. “Because overall, after covid, the number of vacations or the number of short stays has gone up. Now, long stays can happen internationally, but when it comes to short stays, it will be domestic because of the rising costs of international holidays.”

    He said there would be one to two long-stay vacations a year during the winters and summer seasons and that there would be at least four or five short stays, if not more, depending on the segment within the same year for the average middle-class to upwardly mobile traveller. “They’re also going to look for alternative accommodations if it is something that their budget doesn’t allow. But fundamentally, I think out of the total income, there is more money that is being kept for experiences of different kinds.”

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