Around a decade ago, making a plan to travel from Delhi to Bombay or Delhi to Guwahati or any other place was a nightmare. Visiting travel agencies, standing in long queues, making constant phone calls to check the progress and the list goes on. Planning for a holiday was a task in itself.
Then came the internet, and along came convenience in the form of MakemyTrip, GoIbibo, Yatra and many more travel websites. Now at the click of a button, you can reach anywhere in the world and at the same time pre-book your accommodation and also book packages if you are looking for a more economical trip.
The journey for many of these online platforms providing us such convenience was not that easy. Today it may seem unimaginable but starting an e-commerce business in the early 2000’s was not an easy feat.
Deep Kalra founder and CEO of MakemyTrip said, “When we started off in 2000, we had started an online portal for people coming from abroad (inbound), going from India to another country (outgoing) and within India. What we realised within three months was that within India, unfortunately though there were many lookers but very few bookers. And since we were completely boot-strapped, we had to immediately make some changes. Our portal therefore, started providing services only for inbound and outgoing travellers”.
He then goes on to say how the business initially did well but the dotcom burst and 9/11 were other disasters that came as a big blow to the MakemyTrip business. “2001 to 2003 were the darkest years”, Kalra said.
For Indians online bookings was still an unknown concept. It was the Indian Railways that came to the rescue when Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) launched its online booking services in 2002. This is when Indians became more comfortable and aware of online booking. This was also a breakthrough for many online companies. Another boon came in the form of the advent of low-cost carriers.
“In 2003 IRCTC’s e-booking services made Indians get comfortable with buying online and then the advent of low cost carriers was an opportunity for us because traditional travel agents didn’t want to sell low costing tickets. We grabbed this opportunity and provided the customers with options of choosing any flight they wanted. This was the first time that the consumer was in control”, said Kalra.
The journey may have been tough but the internet was something that changed everyone’s lives. Ashish Kashyap who founded Goibibo in 2007 said “I love the internet. I love the problems that it can solve not only for consumers but also for sellers and merchants. My journey has been super-exciting. I have seen the struggle that the internet industry has gone through but finally it is really awesome to see that in 2010, it actually broke out”.
Today, there is a boom in the ecommerce industry and technology has become an integral part of everyone’s lives. In this fast-paced world, travel had become second nature and the world has become a smaller place. Travel websites are taking full advantage and using technology to the fullest.
“Technology is the backbone for us. For e.g if you look at our Ryde application, it is completely driven by technology, by a mobile application which enables consumers to publish their rides and on the other hand prospective riders to be able to choose their rides; this is the real power of technology because all this is happening in the real time. This is technology at its best.
Today travelling is easy and spontaneous. On click of the mouse and you can travel the country. And the power lies in the palm of a customer’s hand.