Ezeego1.com, a travel portal promoted by the promoters of Cox & Kings, has ventured out of the traditional online business model by opening its first offline store in Mumbai. Adopting this hybrid model, the portal has outlined an ambitious plan to expand through 300 franchisee shops across key cities in India in three years.
This is the first time that an online travel agent has opened such a major initiative to offer all types of travel related services, from booking of flights, hotels and holidays to providing information about visa and travel insurance.
In Mumbai, the company owned ‘model shop’ is located at Khar West and is managed by six employees who are property trained to handle and advise any travel related matters for customers.
Speaking to HT, Ezeego1.com COO Neelu Singh said, “We know that online travel in India would take off in a big way in a few years, but we decided on this hybrid model to provide better services to online customers and those who want to deal with us directly.”
“Our travel shop is an alternative channel for booking and will enable customers to interact with travel counselors on a personal level. For visa services, customers may have to physically approach us and such shops are convenient for these customers.”
This shop in Mumbai is a pilot project and similar shops would be set up by franchisees. “By this year-end,we will have 40 franchise outlets. These shops will enable us to rapidly expand our international travel business," Singh said.
This hybrid approach reinforces the fact that the online business in India is at nascent stage and it would take years to achieve volumes. For example, only two per cent of the business is conducted online in India as compared to 60 per cent in the US. This figure is likely to go up to eight per cent in three years, according to industry officials.