Book before you board
Enjoying a steady growth in business from 2007, CEO of TicketGoose.com, Karthikeyan Easwaramoorthy is focussing only on making travel easy
Express News Service
CHENNAI: Imagine a person who has been unlucky to have gotten his/her Diwali leaves approved at the last moment. The first thing that would come to their mind would be to head to their hometown by bus or train. There is little use trying to book a ticket at a reservation counter, with thousands having similar experiences. This is where online ticketing systems bring convenience and peace of mind to a person who is running out of time and options.
Launched in 2007, TicketGoose.com has been among the leading players in the segment and today offer services to more than 3,000 destinations pan India. CEO of the firm, Karthikeyan Easwaramoorthy, in an email interaction with CE spoke about industry growth, unexpected help from Reliance Jio, soon-to-be-launched flight ticketing service, among others.
How rapidly is the online bus ticketing industry growing? And how much share does it have in comparison to the traditional method?
The online bus ticketing industry is growing healthily albeit with the measured adoption to new technology as compared to the traditional medium of offline ticket purchases. With the advent of economical data and much improved internet penetration in tier-2 cities, it is only a matter of time before online booking becomes the norm. Having said that, the industry average hovers around
30%-40% and is poised to grow higher in the coming years.
Give us an overview of the industry.
With regard to the `35,000-crore bus-ticketing industry, the online platform has attracted travellers from the southern and western states. This is largely attributed to regional bus operators opting for the digital advantage with real-time transactions and seat selection offered to customers. Globally, bus travel has always been well received, especially in landlocked Europe and North America where luxury and leisure travel have paved the way for a loyal passenger base.What is TicketGoose’s current growth rate and how many operators do you work with?
We have been growing at 10% per annum since inception. We have aggregated over 2,500 bus operators pan India with 25,000 buses and no less than 50,000 trips per day. Daily transactions are in excess of 4,000 through these direct channels.
Can growth in data consumption among Indians be attributed to a major part of the online ticketing sector?
The introduction of a new player in mobile telephony in 2016 offering data at very affordable costs has indeed helped the surge of 4G technology. As we inch towards 5G in a couple of years, connectivity will improve manifold and allow for more customers. This means online bus ticketing will be the norm, as is the case with movie ticketing.
Give us an insight into travel insurance and where it stands at the moment.
We were probably the first to offer travel insurance in online bus ticketing. It was an idea before its time and wasn’t well received. Even now, the figures stand at a mere 5% for every 100 tickets booked with us. We hope customers wake up to the importance of opting for travel insurance like in western countries.
Having entered the hotel booking segment, tell us about the positive prospects of the sector and its future.
We started as an online bus ticketing aggregator and went on to add hotel, taxi services and soon-to-be-launched flight tickets by the year-end. Our hotel segment is at a nascent stage with very few bus passengers opting for a hotel room from our portal. We have bolstered our category with partnerships and tie-ups with OYO Rooms and FabHotels. It is early days for us but we hope to bring in more takers with the change in the mindset of travellers who wish to opt for a short stay and pay on an hourly basis. While this suits business travellers who visit a town for a daylong meeting, it can also be useful for leisure travellers who wish to take a shower, a quick nap and club it with breakfast. Ideally, a enerational shift will help the transition to record healthy sales figures in the future.
Is TicketGoose looking at raising funds at the moment?
Yes, we are intent on raising funds and looking at opportunities to take it forward.
How has slumped growth during the first half of the year affected the ticketing industry?
While we were obviously hit in the first half of this year along with others in the sector, we hope to make good with a growth of 50% in our turnover as compared to last year. We hope the aggregator segment recovers in time and with the festive and winter seasons, we may see happy tidings again.
Making a big impression
“TicketGoose.com is one of India’s oldest travel aggregators at the forefront of online bus ticketing, taxi and hotel bookings with an eye on adding flight tickets to our portfolio by year-end. In June, we crossed one crore bus ticket bookings. We as travel aggregators are committed to making a big impression in the mobility business with a robust network of bus operators, tour operators, fleet owners, hospitality partners and car rental services for the customer,” said Karthikeyan when asked about the firm’s overall objective.
A click away
● The Indian online ticketing market kick-started by Air India in 2002, saw 30% of railway tickets and 40% of air tickets in 2014 sold through the online channel.
● The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited website (www.irctc.co.in ) is one of the largest and most visited e-commerce sites in India. On July 13, 2012, 4.96 lakh e-tickets were booked, which was the highest back then.