Brand Sachin Tendulkar bags Musafir.com

PTI Posted online: Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : United Arab Emirates-based travel portal Musafir.com today said it has appointed cricketing legend, the soon-to-retire Sachin Tendulkar as its brand ambassador as it enters the Indian online travel agent market.

Commenting on the development, Musafir.com Managing Director Sachin Gadoya said: "We are extremely excited to have Sachin Tendulkar on board as our brand ambassador...Through this association, Musafir.com aims to strengthen brand recall to meet the company's ambitious growth plans in India."

India's online travel market is expected to cross Rs 55,000 crore by 2015 and OTAs (Online Travel Agents) are expected to account for a 40 per cent share of that market, he added.

Speaking on the development, Sachin Tendulkar said: "Musafir.com understands the business of travel and has been successfully catering to the emerging needs of travellers. I look forward to this exciting association as we encourage India to plan their travel with Musafir.com".

The partnership with Sachin Tendulkar covers a major global marketing campaign that includes radio, television and outdoor media.

"Our aim is to leverage our expertise and experience to maximise opportunities in this burgeoning market by focusing on the B2C leisure travel segment and offering Indian travellers a suite of exciting products, no-nonsense convenience and a premium experience," Gadoya said.

Founded in the UAE by Sachin Gadoya, Albert Dias and Mohammed Al Thani in August 2007, Musafir.com's foray into India, forms an integral part of the company's global expansion strategy.

Musafir to invest Rs 100 cr in India

UAE-based travel portal Musafir.com, in which ace cricketer Sachin Tendulkar owns a minority interest, today announced investment of Rs 100 crore as it launched its operations in the country.

"We are planning to invest Rs 100 crore in the next two-three years. Around 60 per cent of the fund would be going for marketing. The remaining would be for services, and getting the team in place. Apart from that we are also planning to come into the retail space as well," Musafir.com managing director Sachin Gadoya told PTI here.

The investment will be funded through the UAE-based Universal Travels & Tourism and India-based Viva Holdings.

The company plans to operate in the brick and mortar space with 12 stores in the country by next year.

"This financial year we are planning to open two retail stores and then next year we have an ambitious growth plan of having at least 12," he said adding they would look at small towns too.

"We have 11 offline stores across the UAE and four branches in Sharjah, two each in Dubai, and Abu Dhabi and one in Ras Al Khaimah," he added.

The company has roped in cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar as its brand ambassador, who also owns a minority stake.

It has earmarked Rs 25 crore for marketing campaigns for the first year.

The company is eyeing revenue of Rs 120-140 crore in the first year and will target a year-on-year growth of at least 75-80 per cent, Gadoya said, adding they are targeting a market share of 7-8 per cent in the next two years, of the around Rs 27,500 crore online travel booking market.

"Our aim in the next five years is to be in the top five online travel agent market. The market is around Rs 20,000 crore which is expected to grow to Rs 55,000 crore by 2015, of which 40-50 per cent will be online driven. We aim to have 7-8 per cent of that," Gadoya said.

Asked if the slowdown in economy could dampen its business, he said, "People are still travelling. Couple of new airlines are coming into the market, so the aviation sector is booming. Whether it is leisure or business, travel will always be there. I don't think there will be a slowdown in travel industry."

"We are here for the long run. There maybe a few travel portals who would have exited in the travel space and that is why we have Sachin Tendulkar with us," Gadoya said.