Online travel marketplace ixigo is now venturing into digital content space with a focus on providing vernacular content for its users. Talking to Inc42, Aloke Bajpai, cofounder and CEO, ixigo said that their app will have an entertainment section for train travellers with a lot of time to kill.
Bajpai said that they will be curating and aggregating the content from other platforms as well as making original content. Their first original web series, Zindagi Express, will be launched today on its Entertainment and News section.
Launched in 2006 by Aloke Bajpai and Rajnish Kumar, ixigo aggregates and compares real-time travel information, prices, and the availability of flights, trains, buses, cabs, hotels, packages, and destinations. The company has divided its apps based on user-interest— ixigo Train app and ixigo Flight app.
Till date, the company has raised over $36 Mn from its investors including Sequoia Capital, SAIF Partners, and Micromax. The company claims to connect over 130 Mn travellers with content and deals from over 25K online as well as offline partners.
ixigo Entertainment: Originals And More
Integrated into ixigo’s trains app, the new entertainment section will also stream trending content across a wide range of categories including music, movies, politics, sports, business and astrology for travellers.
ixigo’s entertainment section will focus on vernacular content to reach out to the next billion users in small towns and cities. The travel platform will offer video content in seven Indian languages including Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Telugu and Kannada. It will also extend it to Punjabi, Urdu, Nepali and Assamese content within a few weeks.
Rajnish Kumar, cofounder and CTO, ixigo said,” Cheap smartphones and even cheaper data has triggered the demand for digital entertainment in India. We will provide immersive, seamless and a high-quality viewing experience which appeals to both urban and rural audiences and can be consumed on-the-go.”
The eight-episode original series Zindagi Express is based on a progressive nuclear family and centres on the conflicts they face while planning a family vacation. In a short 4 min webisodes. ‘Zindagi Express’ is streaming live on the ixigo trains app from today (June 4).
Aloke Bajpai said, “Through our original web series, we will offer entertaining and informative content to travellers at their convenience and through strategic partnerships with OTT platforms and original content players, we will offer the widest choice and depth of content to ixigoers.”
Ixigo Doubles Growth In A Year
As a result of its focus on technical capabilities, ixigo has doubled its gross transaction value (GTV) and grown its revenue 1.7 times in FY19 at INR 113.5 Cr net revenue. It is now recording an annual GTV run-rate of INR. 2000 Cr.
The company claims to have 30 Mn monthly active users predominantly on mobile, 3 Mn daily active users and nearly 130 Mn app downloads. Ixigo claims to grow 100% organically in terms of its traffic and says its improving its user engagement metrics considerably as well.
With 60% of the total traffic and 50% of transactions on ixigo being driven from tier II and III cities, ixigo is looking to reach the next billion users in India.
Vernacular Content: The Kingmaker
According to Ethnologue, which documents living languages around the world, India is home to 461 languages, out of which 14 have been reported to be extinct. While there is a growing Indian population which consumes english content, the last few years has seen a rising interest in vernacular content created to reach out to mid-tier cities and towns.
According to a Sharechat report, 2018 was the year when for the first time internet users in great numbers accessed social media in their regional languages and participated actively in contributing to user generated content in native languages.
A study by KPMG India and Google said that Indian language internet users are expected to grow at a CAGR of 18% vs English users at a CAGR of 3%. After Reliance Jio enabled smartphone and internet reach to India’s tier 2 and tier 3 markets, vernacular has become an easier way for internet players to leverage this prowess.
At present, from global internet giants such as Facebook and Google to nascent startups such as Roposo and Sharechat, the age and game is for vernacular growth.
The country’s overall travel market is estimated to become a $48 Bn industry within the next three years, according to a June 2017 Google India-BCG report. With ixigo leveraging entertainment for its next phase of growth, it is interesting to watch out what kind of innovations will come up in the online travel segment.