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Taking to travel biz via hotel bookings

Taking to travel biz via hotel bookings
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First Published: Tue, Jan 27 2009. 12 17 AM IST

Updated: Tue, Jan 27 2009. 12 17 AM IST
Mumbai: Here’s yet another online start-up aiming to make it big in the travel and tourism business. Just that Inasra Technologies Pvt. Ltd is focused on hotel bookings, unlike existing travel portals such as Yatra.com, Cleartrip.com or MakeMyTrip.com that have derived most of their mileage from air and rail ticketing.
Inasra chief executive Yogendra Vasupal, who started the business with his wife Rupal Surana and Sachit Singhi, a college classmate, says the minuscule share that online channels have in hotel bookings and the fragmented nature of the business had him “finally settle on accommodations”.
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Inasra says it has tied up with 4,000 hotels across at least 460 cities in India. About 80% of its partner hotels are three-star or below (including dormitories at Rs90 a day), positioning it well before a value-conscious traveller. Even with the economic slowdown, says Singhi, director of strategic partnerships at Inasra, “we feel that people are willing to travel and explore, the only difference now being that they want cheaper accommodation. And since we provide just that, it works to our advantage”.
Inasra, which employs nine people, including the founders, has an annual turnover of about Rs10 lakh and is yet to break even. Revenue comes in the form of commissions from partner hotels, which range between 10% and 40% of the per night room tariffs. Singhi says per night room bookings through Inasra.com were around 1,700 in December, up nearly fivefold from 350 in December 2007.
Still, online hotel bookings alone may not be enough for survival in a market that has at least eight online travel portals wanting a share of the pie as some fall by the wayside. TripMela.com, a travel deals aggregator that started operations in 2006, shut shop recently. Singhi says Inasra is “operationally sustainable” currently, adding that the firm could use funding “to scale up existing business (online hotel accommodation), get into online travel and tap online advertising”.
Funding is easier said than done. “Winners (in this space) have already emerged. I think it would be a waste of capital to create more companies,” Sanjeev Aggarwal, managing director of Helion Venture Partners, which counts Makemytrip.com as one of its portfolio companies, had said recently.
Inasra’s revenues through commissions from hotel partnerships rather than online advertising and plans to get into travel ticketing may make for a different business proposition to venture capitalists.
sanat.v@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Jan 27 2009. 12 17 AM IST