We are publishing an interview of Ms. Smriti Kumar, Co-founder, Airlines Technology.
What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Today travel agents do 70%-75% of Airlines reservations. Airlines pay hefty fees for those. Even after that they are not able to sell ancillary services ( wi-fi, food, lounge, preferred seats, boarding etc ) on online travel agent (OTA) portal. This results in huge revenue and opportunity loss for airlines. Consumers also don’t know what they deserve. They see only Fares and on OTA portal and have to make choice with limited information. They don’t understand if two flights are offering same or similar price, which one will suit his needs best.
With AT’s NDC based IT solutions, globally all airlines and travel agents will work on IATA backed XML standards. This will enable Airlines to be directly connected to online travel agent portal and showcase everything they have on OTA portal itself.
Now end user will be able to buy all on-board facilities like meal, extra leg room, onboard entertainment, WIFI and ground facilities like priority boarding, free lounge, limo pick & drop, check-in seat etc. directly from travel agent’s portal. All these offers will transparently come directly from Airlines, saving huge intermediately cost,boosting their sales revenue and loads of rich content to end-users.
Globally, IATA which represents 265 airlines comprising 83 per cent of global air traffic expects 7.2 billion passengers to fly by 2035, almost double the current number of 3.8 billion, thanks to factors like emerging middle class, diverging demographics and liberalization of aviation markets. According to Skift*, top 10 airlines in the world clocked $26 billion of ancillary revenue in 2015, 300% of what figures were in 2008.
Airlines Technology estimates ancillary sales to grow by minimum 300% again by 2020. Increasing number of travellers and huge supply gap on ancillary sales has led us to believe that this is disruptive and if we can enable travel agents to sell airlines ancillaries, industry will transform.
Please tell us about the founders:
We are 3 co-founders
Varun Bansal leads Business Operations, Development and Strategy. He also lead talks with possible investors and important business partners.is a passionate entrepreneur, investor and well known in wealth management circle. He is managing all business operations of Airlines Technology. Varun Bansal is also a financial service professional with over 13 years of experience in the industry.
Smriti kumar leads Technical and Business Process formation and implementation.She has years of rich experience in managing cross-functional and multi geographical IT programs in some of the top companies- HCL Technologies, Sopra Steria(Formerly Xansa) and Aon Hewitt. A business leader with proven track record of successfully leading large engagements with global clients in variety of technologies and multiple domains like content management, HR & Payroll, telecom etc.
Paras leads Business Analysis and Technical Support. He is important bridge between what business needs and technology teams needs to develop. He is very active in business development and strategy too.Over the past 1 and half years, Paras has been dedicated to understanding the ecosystem of the airlines industry in order to develop the business from the ground up. Paras has his MCA, and with over 9 years of high-level IT experience leading teams in data warehousing, data architecture, programming, and business intelligence, and combined with his strengths in client engagement.
Tell us about the Product / Solution:
We have 4 types of products/services:
- IT Solutions: We will create NDC based customised new reservation systems for Airlines and travel agents.
- Adapters: All airlines and travel agents will not be able to invest into all new reservations systems instantly. For them, we will create adapters to start reaping in NDC benefits till industry is mature and they get ready to invest.
- Aggregator: We will be middle layer between Airlines and Travel Agents and help them exchange messages NDC way.
- Data Analytics: Data flowing between airlines and travel agents can be worked upon to help them in business and sales decisions , planning and projections.
There are 2 easy steps to make your product market fit:
- Understand customers’ needs: We did through research, spoke to industry veterans and IATA and concluded this.
- Value proposition: Our Adapters are ours biggest value proposition
What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learnings that you have?
In business there are no assumptions and startups have rarely succeeded on assumptions. Since we are not from travel domain, responsibility and risk was much higher. We did our through research before we started.
How are you pricing the Product? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ?
Our IT service pricing is totally dependent on efforts involved. In aggregation, We will charge either per transaction (booking) or periodical subscription. Most of our services are customised so there is no standard pricing policy.
What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger?
As mentioned earlier, Travel industry will grow every year . Our product and services are GLOBAL hence we will be immune to state of particular country’s economy. Ancillaries will contribute to good 10% of airline revenue. There was $60 billion of ancillary revenue in 2015.
Consumer will divert to better product offerings. With NDC, he will be able to see exactly what he going to use. In Screen 1 he can clearly see how his meal gonna look like, if this flight has wifi or not or if I am getting good movies in in-house entertainment. Screen 2 clearly showcase how he can very effectively compare two offerings in micro details. Fare and schedule are not only criteria.
NDC will help airlines sell more and better so they are big supporters. Eventually, they will have to invest in their reservation systems.
Our time to market is perfect. We will not wait long for rewards now neither we have missed any opportunity.
What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
If you have idea, start early. There is never perfect time. Younger the better. Get team right. Be sure who is your partner and first few core team members are critical. Dnt hurry to pick them. Its good to wait for right people. If you are 99.99% sure, that guy is not right.
More details about Startup:
Name of Startup: Airlines Technology Pvt. Ltd.
Launched on: 30th June, 2015
Location: Gurgaon, Haryana
No. of Founders: 3