Paytm, India's largest mobile phone wallet provider, is set to make inroads into the travel space. It is planning to build the country's largest travel marketplace and provide all types of travel and tourism solutions, including cab rides; bus, train and air tickets; hotel bookings; visa facilitation; foreign exchange and international mobile phone cards.
According to sources, the company is modelling its travel vertical on Alibaba-run Alitrip, which provides travel services on its portal. For international travel packages, Paytm might get into a tie-up with Alitrip, sources added. For now, Paytm's services would be incorporated into its present portal on web and mobile application and will not be a standalone travel business like Alitrip.
"We are looking to build the largest marketplace for travel in India.... A person planning a holiday will not have to look anywhere else for any travel needs," said Abhishek Rajan, vice-president, Paytm.
The One97 Communications-run company is the first online e-commerce major, which has got into this segment. Till now, this space has been dominated by online travel companies such as MakeMyTrip, Yatra, and travel and tour operators like Thomas Cook and Kuoni India.
The company has chosen Bengaluru as the base of operations for its travel services and would be starting full-fledged operations by the middle of this year. It also plans to go on a major recruitment drive and take the number of people working in its travel team to triple digits.
To build its travel marketplace, the firm is getting into tie-ups with big and small travel agents, transporters, hotels and ancillary service providers such as adventure sports company owners. "We will also have people who can help in getting visas, sellers who will offer foreign exchange at competitive prices and international mobile SIM card providers," said Rajan.
The company is also working tie-ups with major players, including IndiGo for air tickets and global distribution system major Amadeus, which enables automated transactions between third parties and travel agencies to provide travel-related services.
The firm has also got into a tie-up with the government's railways ticketing website IRCTC. "As we cannot give cash back on train tickets, we are working on ways we can promote the service," Rajan added.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and chief executive of One97 Communications, had earlier said the company which owns Paytm has kept aside $650 million for the expansion of the company and its various verticals.
- Picks Bengaluru as the base of operations
- Full-fledged operations by mid-2016
- Plans a major recruitment drive
- Planning tie-ups with agents, transporters, hotels
- Tie-ups with IndiGo, Amadeus, IRCTC also on cards