Hrush Bhatt, 39, the co-founder and director at online travel agency (OTA) Cleartrip Travel Services Pvt. Ltd is optimistic about the future despite a slowing economy. He expects Cleartrip will return to profitability by the second quarter of the next fiscal. Cleartrip fell into losses after it had its first profitable year in fiscal 2009. Bhatt, who is in love with his iPhone 5, is excited that thus far 10% of July bookings have been made on mobile devices compared with 3% last year. Bhatt says he is not losing sleep over Google Inc.’s entry into flight search but he is betting big on newly launched flight-cum-hotel holiday packages that are giving him higher margins against stand-alone flight bookings. Cleartrip will make an announcement in the next week about a strategic investment, following in the footsteps of its competitors. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Aviation is facing turbulent times. How are you doing?
Travel, and particularly aviation, has always been a cyclical business—it tends to swing up or down in line with the larger macro economic outlook. As an online travel service, we are hugely optimistic about the future. To date, the industry has only gone through its first growth bump, we are expecting more growth bumps in the years to come. Only 12% of India’s population is currently online, about 130 million people; this number is expected to be 300 million by the end of 2014. The growth of smartphones and mobile data subscribers will drive further growth.
Full interview here Mint