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Why Yatra Acquired BuzzInTown

Yatra.com, among India’s largest online travel portals, has acquired events listing site BuzzInTown, according to a report in the IndiaDigitalReview; the development has been confirmed to the publication by BuzzInTown co-Founder & CEO Amitabh Saran. The companies have a common investor in Intel Capital. A question which might come to mind is – why would Yatra, a leading player in the travel space acquire BuzzInTown? Our sense is that the travel ticketing space is commoditized – and has been so for quite a while now – and online travel agents are now looking to diversify in the e-commerce and event ticketing space. Ticketing is ticketing, and BuzzInTown is one of the few sources for tickets for events like plays and concerts, apart from BookMyShow, TicketPro and a few others. Also keep in mind that Yatra has a common investor with BookMyShow as well – the Network18 Group.

There is unlikely to be synergy in the front end – while travelers going to a particular city might want to know about what to do in case they have free time, it isn’t really top-of-mind when they’re booking airline or train tickets: a cross-sell of event tickets to travelers isn’t likely to be a large market, though it is worth a shot. At the back end, both businesses are about aggregating fragmented markets: Yatra has so far been dealing with airline tickets (not very fragmented) and hotels (fragmented), while the likes of BuzzInTown and (mostly) BookMyShow, which was the first in the event ticketing space – have managed to bring the events ticketing business online. Also note that Via, another online ticketing company, recently started a deals business and also acquired wellness e-commerce site LifeMojo.

BookMyShow, last fiscal, was close to profitability at a Profit-after-tax level, having reported revenues of Rs 16.09 crore in FY11, with losses of Rs 0.41 crore. VCCircle reports that Wortal Technologies (BuzzInTown) reported revenues of Rs 5.7 crore in FY10, and a net loss of Rs 1.8 crore. BookMyShow reported revenues of Rs 12.16 crore and a loss of Rs 1.52 crore during the same period.

BuzzInTown also has daily deals, but there it is yet-another-company in a crowded space that has its own sets of issues. Do read this guest column by Sampad Swain, who had co-founded DealsAndYou, and recently left the company.

The other alternative – the supposition that Yatra is acquiring BuzzInTown to diversify into other ticketing businesses – is that Yatra is just bailing out an investor in Intel Capital. Which do you think it is?

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