Thursday, July 06, 2006

Suhaana safar aur yeh mausam haseen

A month back I wrote a blog about Small-And-Medium Businesses (SMB) in India and the importance of technology in enabling these businesses to scale and perform better. After writing the blog I got to know that KPN travels (https://www.kpntravels.in/) have launched their website and bus tickets can be booked online. For people who don’t know KPN travels, it is one of the biggest privately operated bus services covering almost all parts of southern India. I have been traveling in their buses for the past give years and I can bet that their business will grow in multiples because of their online system as most of the people travel in their buses are ‘Bangalore-techies’ for visiting their native places over the weekend. This is a perfect example for the ‘SMB + Technology’ combination which I am sure is a ‘Killer combination’ in Indian context.

Also compared to other businesses, travel business in India seems to be the leader as far as adapting technology is concerned. According to ‘Digital Summit 2006’ statistics Indian railways (http://irctc.co.in/) is selling tickets worth Rs.30 crore every month which is having about 200,000 online transactions. The low-cost airline Air Deccan (http://www.airdeccan.net/) is making user of their online reservation system for all sorts of customers (Retail, travel agents, corporate bulk booking) and their run rate is Rs.1000 crore per year. Couple of days back Prathap Kalra CEO of ‘Makemytrip’ (http://www.makemytrip.com/) appeared in NDTV’s ‘Boss-day-out’ program and he was explaining about the travel and internet usage in India. Even though I don’t remember the exact numbers the growth potential offered by the online travel is simply amazing.

The benefit and ease of online travel has not yet reached average non-urban Indians. It is mainly because of the less PC and Internet penetration. The idea of Rs.10, 000 PC is looking good but its success is not yet proven. Here is where the ‘Affordable access devices (AAD)’ come into picture and I cannot think of a better AAD than mobile phones in Indian context. By bringing Internet into the mobile phone and developing applications especially for online ticketing is an area which is yet to be tapped.

The initial momentum for online travel is looking good from the service providers as well as from the consumer's end. This should ultimately remove the long queues in reservation counters by make ticketing very easy and make the consumer sing the song ‘suhaana safar aur yeh mausam haseen’ :)

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