Harish Khatri, founder of India Assist
Launched in 2019 , India Assist, a patented and showcase Start-up recognised by Govt of India, is now back with its world class Travel Assistance Services in a B2B avatar for all domestic and international travellers, with focus to build a service ecosystem connecting hotels, travel agents and airlines.
The two-year-long global pandemic has forced many businesses to tweak or redesign their products and services. Even technology start-ups are not different. India Assist, an application designed for foreign travellers coming to India, when they need emergency (medical, theft etc) or happy (food, shopping etc) assistances while at a destination, launched towards the end of 2019, had also faced the same existential crisis when pandemic brought complete stop to international travel. But “India Assist, being a true Indian Company didn’t stop and provided more than 3000 free assistances to the foreign tourists stranded in different destinations when pandemic struck in March 2020,” says Harish Khatri, founder of India Assist.
The travel start-up started with a lot of promise with FDI from Silicon Valley, had to redesign its services quickly to make it relevant to the new normal-domestic travel. “On World Tourism Day we have launched our services in 60+ cities in India and Nepal Assist, and by the end of 2022 we will have presence in over 100 cities in India” Khatri said. He said that he felt that the B2B model is the most relevant model for the domestic market in India considering the huge size and spread of the market. He said that various stakeholders of the travel eco-system, like travel agents, airlines, hotels, transport service providers, etc. work in silos and therefore travellers are left to fend for themselves when they are faced with some travel issues whether it is related to food or baggage loss, or medical support or issues of safety and security, etc.
“We are trying to connect the gaps that exist in the system and make it a win-win situation for everyone. We are not competing with anyone in the ecosystem, we are complementing and making the system more robust, “Khatri said. He also added that in the B2B franchise-based model, the travel operators will be both sellers and service providers of the India Assist. He said that travel agents are people who recommend airlines, hotels, destinations, ground transportation, etc. They can also recommend India Assist services as well to their clients. “They can offer the India Assist services as complementary, at a cost or with a markup,” he said. Starting with travel agents, the company has plans to bring hotels, airlines and travel insurances also into the fold soon. Explaining the model, Khatri said that a code will be generated as and when the India Assist service is sold to a client and the client can download the app using that code. In case they require assistance, they can use it simply by pressing the alert buttons on the app. The location of the traveller is tracked by the app and a trained India Assist service provider gets assigned. Based on the assistance protocol for each situation, the service provider will extend all support so that the traveller feels at ease with the situation. Khatri said that the technology solution they have developed is Patented by India Assist and will cater to global markets as well, and to begin with we are launching our services in Nepal also on this special Day.