The acquisition, which closed on May 29, was an all cash deal which saw all the shareholders of iTraveller.com exiting the start-up and 45 of its team members becoming part of the Lastminute.com India team.
iTraveller has a revenue of USD 3 million, has raised a total of USD 4.8 million in funding, receives 3 million visitors/month and averaged ₹1.5-2 crore in transactions/month till last year.
The Indian travel industry has been in the doldrums since 2016, with the first big blow to the sector being delivered by demonetisation in November 2016 followed by the GST roll out in 2017, with high GST payout of 9 per cent charged on tour packages, which was subsequently reduced to 5 per cent. The third and final blow to the struggling industry was dealt by Covid-19, from as early as February 2020, when international travel came to a grinding halt followed by domestic travel.
“Since 2016-17, the market has been very bad of us, having to contend with competition from OTAs on the one hand and hundreds of offline travel operators on the other hand. To compound matters, the funding environment was bleak, making it very difficult for us to raise additional funds to run the business. We forged a strategic partnership with Lastminute.com since the last 18-24 months, during which time they have been using our holiday booking engine to power holidays in Europe and carry out due diligence on the India market,” said Shiju Radhakrishnan, one of the three co-founders of iTraveller.com, founded in 2012 along with Nisanth Kumar and Chitra Parija. He did not disclose the transaction value of the acquisition.
Lastminute.com is a Switzerland-based, publicly listed USD 200 m, online travel firm which is the largest OTA in the UK, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France and Spain.
“The India market is an attractive growth opportunity for Lastminute.com as Europe is a saturated market, therefore, launching its India operations with an acquisition is a natural extension for the company,” said Radhakrishnan.
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