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How emerging technologies are revolutionizing future of travel: Rikant Pittie, EaseMyTrip

Rikant Pittie, co-founder, EaseMyTrip recently spoke to Dataquest on the significant role played by technology in shaping the travel sector

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Supriya Rai
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Emerging technologies are ushering in a new era in the travel industry, revolutionizing the way travel is viewed. Artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and other cutting-edge innovations are transforming the travel experience, enhancing convenience, personalization, and efficiency. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are streamlining customer communication and providing instant assistance, from booking flights and accommodations to offering personalized recommendations based on individual preferences. In addition to this, emerging technologies are also driving automation in various aspects of travel. Rikant Pittie, co-founder, EaseMyTrip recently spoke to Dataquest on the significant role played by technology in shaping the travel sector.

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Specifically, he discusses the impact of emerging technologies AI and VR on the future of travel and customer experience. Pittie believes that these cutting-edge technologies hold tremendous potential and will revolutionize the industry.

DQ: What role does technology play in the operations of EaseMyTrip? How do you leverage technology to streamline processes and provide a seamless user experience?

Rikant Pittie: Technology forms the core foundation of our company EaseMyTrip. We started as an online travel company back in 2008. In fact, we take pride in the fact that we have been able to grow and scale on the back of technological advancements. All thanks to our robust tech-enabled infrastructure and systems managed by our highly qualified in-house tech team, we have been able to maintain an efficient and lean organisational structure. 

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We strongly feel that emerging technologies are pivotal to our growth and development. EaseMyTrip leverages various AI- and ML-based technologies to identify customers’ behaviour. Tech solutions help us understand their preferences and cater to their requirements better. They also enable us to provide our customer base with personalised recommendations. All in all, with this tech-enabled strategy, we have not only been able to streamline operations but also provide seamless experiences to our customers. It helps us deliver superior customer service and further paves the way for customer retention and loyalty in the future. 

Today, we are the leading online travel tech portal in India. Honestly, achieving this milestone has been possible with our tech-first approach. 

DQ: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the travel industry worldwide. How has EaseMyTrip navigated through this challenging period, and what strategies have you implemented to adapt to the changing landscape?

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Rikant Pittie: The pandemic inflicted an adverse impact on almost all industries and businesses. The travel industry, in particular, had to undergo various disruptions. At first, there was this sense of unpredictability. But we proved the saying- ‘in every crisis, lies an opportunity’ to be true. Being resilient in our approach helped us navigate the pandemic crisis and turn the tables around in our favour. Just when Covid-19 was at its peak in 2021, we were preparing to go public and launch our IPO. This shows that we were standing strong, undeterred by the pandemic. 

Being a bootstrapped company from the very beginning, we had to think through every step and decision. Until December 2020, IPO was out of the question for us. But the same month, we witnessed a 76% increase in our numbers and were able to touch the pre-Covid mark. This was the time when the company was profitable and growing, and we thought it to be the appropriate moment to make our stock market debut.  

Additionally, with an uncertainty of flights, during the pandemic, a lot of people were trying to get in touch to postpone or cancel flights. To ensure a smooth experience for our customers, we implemented technology to streamline processes that are otherwise human resource intensive. We have also invested in numerous tech innovations such as WhatsApp chatbots to make the process of booking and cancelling easier for our customers. Since the pandemic, we have also automated numerous processes such as seat booking, meal booking, cancellation, customer service among others. These chatbots works as a medium to engage with customers and ensure a hassle-free experience for them. 

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Today, instead of strategies, we focus on attributes of resiliency and patience. We know that staying flexible is the only way to survive and thrive in this dynamically changing world. One has to hustle to reach the zenith. It is with hard work and consistent and persistent efforts that one can achieve success.  

DQ: Technology has played a pivotal role in shaping the travel industry. How do you see emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, influencing the future of travel and the customer experience?

Rikant Pittie: Emerging technologies like AI and VR have immense potential. In fact, we have been utilising their power to know our customers better and address their requirements effectively. Such new-age technologies are a blessing in disguise and will play a vital role in shaping the progressive future of the travel industry as well. VR, for instance, will allow people to explore new places without leaving the comfort zone of their homes. AI-enabled chatbots will drive customer communication and grievance resolution altogether. Robots that are already being used in concierge-like services will further take over a myriad of responsibilities like luggage transportation, housekeeping, customer experiences, etc. 

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DQ: Online travel platforms have become increasingly popular among consumers. What are some of the key advantages or benefits that online platforms like EaseMyTrip offer to travellers?

Rikant Pittie: Online travel agencies (OTAs) have become popular amongst customers in India because of various reasons. Providing a combination of travel, accommodation and transportation services, including special packages and lucrative deals, they attract Indian customers who are price-conscious and have a ‘value-for-money’ mindset. Today, OTAs are an integral part of the travel industry and will definitely play a major role in the growth of the market and carve the path for better growth opportunities. 

We are different from the other players in the market at various levels. Firstly, we are a bootstrapped company and have been profitable since our inception. Our lean cost model and no convenience fee strategy continue to remain strong pillars of our growth and scalability. This operational strategy helps us not only attract new customers but retain our existing customer base as well. Even our asset-light model works in our favour. 

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All in all, it is our user-friendly platform, innovative offerings and robust tech support that have helped us establish a strong presence in the market. 

DQ: Lastly, what are some of the challenges that you anticipate for the travel industry in India in the coming years, and how do you plan to overcome them?

Rikant Pittie: Currently, the travel industry is already dealing with the increasing demand for travel and the pent-up demand. The industry’s infrastructure can be burdened in the future as well, which can further impact the sector’s growth. This will lead to longer waiting periods, more crowded terminals and operational disruptions. Staffing and skill shortage can further hamper customer experiences. But despite these challenges, the sector will grow rapidly to touch the $125 billion mark by FY27. And we will be a major contributor to this growth. 

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Currently, India has 141 airports and the government is planning to add 80 more airports in the next five years. With the rapid growth, the challenges will only be the operational and functional processes.

The increase in the number of airports would definitely bring more growth opportunities for EaseMyTrip.

Our sole focus has been to fulfill our customer’s needs and provide them with high-end experiences. Whether it is our products or services, technology or our platform, We shall sustain our efforts towards achieving the same in the future as well.

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