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Fairfax-controlled Thomas Cook to buy into travel-tech startup Ithaka
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Tour operator Thomas Cook (India) Ltd is foraying into the travel-tech space with a planned undisclosed investment in Traveljunkie Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which runs Ithaka, an app offering chat-based real-time travel advice from destination experts.

Thomas Cook will acquire 24% stake in Mumbai-based Traveljunkie, which recommends destinations and help people plan their trips and book activities, hotels and flights, the tour operator said in a stock-market disclosure. Traveljunkie serves people traveling to Thailand, Indonesia and Turkey.

Founded by IIT-Bombay graduates Ameya Sahasrabudhe and Rahul Singh in 2015, Ithaka started as a marketplace for travel experiences. It later pivoted to chat-based travel assistance.

The startup earns revenue by charging commissions to operators and vendors selling local activities and experiences. Users are not charged anything.

Traveljunkie had raised Rs 2.1 crore ($325,000) in seed funding from a clutch of angel investors based in the US, Singapore and India in March last year. Pulse co-founder Ankit Gupta and Jet Airways employee Puneet Motihar also put in money.

“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,” said Madhavan Menon, chairman, Thomas Cook India Group.

Thomas Cook, majority-owned by India-born Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, offers a broad spectrum of services in India that include: foreign exchange; corporate travel; meetings, incentives, conferences & events; leisure travel; insurance; visa and passport services; and e-business. The company set up its first office in India in 1881.

Fairfax had acquired a majority stake in Thomas Cook in 2012.

Fairfax, through Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, owns 49.02% of Quess Corp Limited, a provider of integrated business services, and 100% of Sterling Holiday Resorts Ltd, a company engaged in timeshare and resort business.

The Thomas Cook India Group is currently present in 24 countries across four continents and operates a slew of brands including Thomas Cook, SOTC, TCI, SITA, Asian Trails, Allied T Pro, Australian Tours Management, and Desert Adventures.

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