Thomas Cook India Group Enters the Travel Tech Space, Announces Strategic Investment to Acquire 24% Stake in Ithaka

Ithaka is a chat based mobile application to serve the rapidly growing FIT segment, combining automation and real traveller expertise to plan and book.

 The Board of Thomas Cook India has approved the acquisition of a 24% strategic stake in TravelJunkie Solutions Private Limited, a Mumbai based travel tech start-up via its wholly owned subsidiary TC Tours Ltd.

TravelJunkie Solutions Private Limited developed Ithaka – a chat-based mobile application serving FIT (Free Individual Travellers) customers by recommending authentic local experiences for different destinations and helping plan their trip and book activities, hotels and flights.

Ithaka’s unique app based service offers users a potent combination of cutting edge automation via AI/ML based technology and the farmed collective expertise of a community of well-travelled individuals.  Ithaka currently serves travellers across various international destinations and plans to expand rapidly over the next 18 – 24 months with the support of Thomas Cook India.

Speaking on the occasion, our Chairman Madhavan Menon,  said “We are very excited with this strategic investment that also marks our first investment in the exciting travel tech space. Ithaka is a perfect marriage of cutting edge technology and human expertise delivered in a user-friendly mobile chat format. For Thomas Cook, the partnership with Ithaka creates a new channel that reaches and serves millennials, while for Ithaka, the partnership delivers an end to end, bookable experience. The business model also resonates perfectly with the hybrid technology + personalisation approach of the Thomas Cook Group in our constant endeavour to innovate and deliver a seamless customer experience to new age travelers.”

 Madhavan also strongly recommended that staff should download the Ithaka app that is available both in IOS as well as Android, and experience their immersive travel offering first-hand

“We have been observing the travel start-up space for some time now,” he said, “And have become increasingly convinced that we will need to participate in the travel start-up eco-system if we are to leverage off technology that is emerging in this space, as well as gaining access to segments like the mobile savvy Gen Y.”

The Chairman made a special mention of the efforts of Debasis Nandy supported by Ankur Roy, who have identified this investment after having spent the last 10 months researching the space. He also thanked Mahesh Iyer and Sumit Maheshwari for their active participation in the decision-making process.

We asked Mahesh for his take on Ithaka.  This is what he had to say about it:

“TCIL for sometime has been looking at the start-up space closely and over the last 8 months started to actively engage with this ecosystem. Ithaka brings in a unique blend of deep customer understanding ( based on inputs provided by the customers on their app), along with expertise from their in-house team, and mostly a set of travel enthusiasts in the respective markets who have a very good understanding of what’s in that country to see, and is tailor made based on the customer’s requirement.

While Ithaka is very good at creating an immersive customer itinerary, pricing this itinerary, and subsequently the execution on ground has been a vacuum for them which TCIL has an expertise for. This intuitively compliments Ithaka’s offering and creates a win –win for both organisations. Additonally, TCIL will be able to attract and address the needs of the new age customer ( Millennial, Gen Y ) who use the app to plan and book and expand its customer base.

Ithaka currently operates  in Bali, Thailand and Turkey and with TCIL’s 24% stake will now add a new destination to their list there by attracting more and more young, tech savvy customers to the TCIL fold.”