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Aloke Bajpai, chief executive officer and co-founder of Le Travenues Technology Pvt. Ltd. Photo: Rituparna Banerjee/Mint (Rituparna Banerjee/Mint)
Aloke Bajpai, chief executive officer and co-founder of Le Travenues Technology Pvt. Ltd. Photo: Rituparna Banerjee/Mint

(Rituparna Banerjee/Mint)

Ixigo searches the way humans do: Aloke Bajpai

The CEO and co-founder of Le Travenues Technology talks about metasearch engine ixigo.com, and why it is different from other search engines

Aloke Bajpai, chief executive officer and co-founder of Le Travenues Technology Pvt. Ltd, says the technology of his online travel metasearch engine ixigo.com, developed completely in India, mimics the way humans think and reason. In an interview, Bajpai underscored that ixigo does not sell any tickets. It, instead, helps users decide which travel site to use for what sort of bookings, and then allows them to get to the page of their choice with a single click to complete the booking. Edited excerpts:

What’s different about ixigo when compared with other online and mobile travel search engines?

The travel industry hasn’t evolved for over a decade. It still means filling cumbersome forms with destinations and dates. So, if I ask for “opening timings of Taj Mahal", I don’t want to read through history, location, etc. to get to that information. What if one could type “Mumbai to Bangalore flight tomorrow" in a search box and get the results in seconds? Or going one step further, why can’t I ask ixigo “what are the best places to visit in Shimla?" and see a nice listing page with the best ones or type “how to reach Shimla from Bangalore?" and get a multi-modal combination of trains, flights, buses and taxis to find all possible options in terms of duration and price.

Keeping this in mind, we introduced the metasearch business model to India in 2007, allowing travellers to compare and book with a single search.

How does the technology work and what do you use?

Semantic search drastically improves the quality of travel search results by intelligently deciphering what people are actually looking for and giving a rich and useful page that answers the query. We believe semantic search technology has the power to change the way travel knowledge is searched and consumed online, and we already see that happening with our Trip Planner tool as well as in the industry with Google Knowledge Graph and Facebook Graph Search.

Trip Planner is now the most comprehensive travel information site with detailed information, photos, maps, directions, timings and prices for more than 64,000 places to visit, things to do, hotels, restaurants and tourist places across India.

How does ixigo earn money?

We are not a booking site, but provide links to online travel agents, hotel booking sites, airline websites, bus booking sites, etc. where users can book tickets. We help them make better choices by getting all useful information at one place.

We earn revenue through clicks and leads to these booking sites as well as contextual display advertising on clearly-demarcated sponsored advertising slots.

How are you tapping the mobile opportunity?

Ixigo.com was the first travel company in India to build apps for the iOS and Android, way back in 2010 and 2011. More recently, we’ve launched four apps—to search for train information; provide PNR status; to be a guide on road trips by locating dhabas, petrol pumps, ATMs, etc.; and an offline travel guide for Goa. Our apps have been downloaded over one million times across platforms. Nearly 2% of all online travel bookings in the country are being researched and planned on our website, and we’re growing by 10-15% month on month.

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