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Yatra Buys PL Worldways in India-Focused Corporate Travel Push

Sean O'Neill
Yatra Buys PL Worldways in India-Focused Corporate Travel Push

Yatra, India’s second-largest homegrown online travel agency after MakeMyTrip, has been on a multi-year push into corporate travel.

On Thursday, it further cemented its claim to be India’s largest online player in business travel by acquiring the corporate travel management business of PL Worldways, a Chennai-based corporate travel services provider.

The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the deal. The merger will add more than 100 corporate clients to its existing client base of more than 700.

Yatra, whose name is Hindi for “journey,” opened its platform to conventional travel agencies in 2014. It said its corporate platform serves many household names, including Deloitte, India’s e-commerce giant Flipkart, India’s leading wireless operator Airtel, and Tata Consulting Services.

Yatra said it was the largest independent provider of self-booking tools to corporations for booking flights, hotels, and insurance as measured by gross booking volume. It recently began offering expense management as an affiliate of Los Angeles-based Chrome River, a maker of invoice management and reporting tools.

In July 2017, Yatra acquired Air Travel Bureau (ATB), a corporate bookings company that brought on more than 400 large and medium-sized Indian businesses as clients. The price was about $27.5 million, based on the currency conversion rate at that time.

“Growth in corporate travel requires a feet-on-the-street sales approach, similar to any enterprise sales effort,” said Dhruv Shringi, co-founder and CEO, Yatra. “But we’ve also benefited from strong word-of-mouth referrals.”

Yatra also serves unmanaged and small and medium-sized businesses with a self-booking tool. “In 2019, we want to farm our corporate travel base, who represent the true middle-class of India, the people with high disposable income and a high affinity toward travel,” said Shringi. “We want to find innovative ways to migrate them to book their personal travel with us, too.”

Yatra, which generated $180 million in revenue in the year to March 31, 2018, primarily makes its money from its online travel agency business aiming at leisure consumers.

Competition Grows

The Gurugram-based public company isn’t alone in trying to bring business travel bookings online. Uniglobe, a network of corporate travel agencies headquartered in Canada but a market leader in India, is another of the leading rivals in the segment, though mostly offline.

Still, Yatra, which incidentally uses Amadeus and Travelport’s Galileo as suppliers for airfare from many airlines, has served approximately 8 million travelers since its founding in 2006, compared to MakeMyTrip, the largest online travel agency, which has 35 million customers since its launch in 2000.

For more context, see this week’s “What India Reveals About the Future of Online Travel: A Skift Deep Dive.”

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