For a Con­ve­nient Travel Ex­pe­ri­ence

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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.

Scene In­dia

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.’

Be­hind-the-Scene Model

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.

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