For a Convenient Travel Experience
If you are one of those Internet search freaks who keep finding and sharing amazing information, you will agree that almost every day some new advancement in technology happens and it leaves us, well, amazed. Many of these advancements are focused at adding convenience, speed and leisure in our lives. One of the best technological advancements in this century is arguably the Internet and we need no explanation to justify the same. Here, in this article, we are discussing e-ticketing, which is a miniscule part of e-commerce and yet perhaps the most attractive feature of the Internet in India—after search engines, emails and social media, of course.
The idea of putting together this article is to build your confidence in buying your tickets online and also to share some interesting facts on how it all began and where it is probably headed. The CV team ventured into the e-ticketing space and spoke to companies that run major ticketing portals, and came back with insights to make us understand this space better.
In a recent report on e-commerce, Milan Sheth, Partner and Technology Industry Leader, Ernst & Young, India, said, ‘Internet has become an integral part of this growing population segment for remaining connected with friends, accessing emails, buying movie tickets and ordering food. The changing lifestyles of the country’s urban population have also led to many people relying on the Internet for
their shopping needs. The convenience of shopping from the comfort of one’s home and having a wide product assortment to choose from has brought about increased reliance on the online medium.’
This is testimony to the growing importance of e-commerce in our daily lives. One of the most astounding facts about e-commerce is its ability to save time and human resource efforts. Until a few years ago it would have been mindboggling to think that the applications of e-commerce would make such a range of activities – from paying utility bills to booking movie or travel tickets to buying almost anything – so convenient. Just login, do some click, click, click, and it will be done in a few minutes, without you having to pull out the wallet or sign cheques.
Interestingly, the first monetary transactions that revolutionized the Indian e-commerce space have been for buying travel tickets. The travel e-ticketing space – the fastest growing e-commerce business in India – is gaining from intense competition and reduced prices of domestic air tickets.
What Is It and How It All Began
The e-ticketing business or what it means is quite self-explanatory – it is about choosing the best mode of conveyance and the best suited fare, and reserving your seat instantly via the agent’s website.
The first e-ticketing experience dates back to the last decade when print air tickets in the United States were transformed into e-tickets. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) website confirms, ‘United Airlines was the first airline to issue electronic tickets, back in 1994. A decade later, however, only 20 per cent of all airline tickets were electronic. The industry was missing out on an opportunity to save costs and make travel for passengers easier. In June 2004, IATA set an industry target of 100 per cent electronic tickets in four years. At that time, many believed this was an unrealistic goal. Evolving standards, uncertainty about the return on investment and scepticism about the customer acceptance of paper in parts of the world were some of the reasons why e-ticketing had not taken off.’
The website further claims, ‘But, soon on 1 June 2008, the industry moved to 100 per cent electronic ticketing and the paper ticket became a thing of the past. Apart from substantial cost savings for the industry of up to US$3bilion per year, electronic ticket is also more convenient for passengers who no longer have to worry about losing tickets and can make changes to itineraries more easily.’
Many of you would not know how multiple websites are able to sell tickets of almost all airlines and reserve hotels across the country. How do these websites manage to get so many stakeholders together to give you a one-stop-shop type of service?
Well, the system works in partnerships wherein the portal, the agencies and the hotels come together and share revenues on sales. According to a Ernst & Young report, ‘Rebirth of e-Commerce in India’, in the online travel segment global distribution systems (GDS), online travel agencies (OTA), airlines and hotels are engaged in providing information on tickets, hotel room inventory and tour packages. Revenue models depend on partnerships among these players. Airlines either sell their tickets directly to customers or through GDSs and OTAs. GDSs offer air and railway tickets, car rental information and hotel rooms. This makes it compelling for OTAs to partner with them.
The report further says, ‘ OTAs also directly partner with airlines, hotels, railways and bus services. Meta search engines partner with airlines and hotels to provide customers with a common portal that encompasses information from all OTAs and airline portals. This helps their customers obtain information on the best prices available on a single website.’
This is how it works for the travel and tourism industry, which claims the maximum percentage in terms of e-commerce-generated revenue, followed by the entertainment industry – now catching up with e-ticketing for movies and events.