Although an online business, Findmyfare. com has extended its savviness offline, to get around the limitations in developing country markets like Sri Lanka. The firm, which offers online flight bookings and hotel reservations, is coming up with innovative ways to get around payment constraints by, for instance, offering combinations of credit card and cash payments for air tickets, whose price most travellers would find high. “Or they can pay the entire amount by cash,” says Abishek Sithampalam. “They make a booking online, but we allow them to make the payment offline. So you can create a booking without paying for it. So we connect both the offline and online worlds and make it convenient because credit card penetration is not that great.”
“Our customers are mostly below the age of 35 and First-time users of our service are also often first-time travellers.”
Having made a name for itself in online air ticketing and carved out its share of the travel market, Findmyfare.com is expanding its product portfolio, to related offerings that are also more profitable than the low-margin air ticket business.
The firm has grown its market share, rather than taking it from traditional travel agents, says Sithampalam. “Our customers are mostly below the age of 35 and we’re looking at new customers whose first booking itself is online. We target the millennials. First-time users of our service are also often first-time travellers.” He believes they are now among the top five travel agents in the island, with annual sales of over Rs3 billion, growing fast. Over the last seven years, they have averaged about 40% year-on-year, making full use of their first-mover advantage.
The firm is investing in software and has developed a fully functional booking engine, which could be launched in multiple geographies without further development. They also aim to shift to higher-margin products like holiday packages, activities and airport transfers, as well as focusing on mobile technology, from where most of their traffic comes now.