NASDAQ-listed OTA MakeMyTrip India Pvt Ltd has launched SMS-based bus ticket booking service, which can be done using a feature phone.
Those who want to book bus tickets need to SMS @mbus <from-city> <to-city> <date-of-journey> <number of passengers> to 9664896648. MakeMyTrip will respond with choices for different operators for the specific journey date and route. Next, a user will be required to select the operator of choice and MakeMyTrip will send a form for filling in passenger details. There will be another form to make payments using instant mobile money transfer (IMPS) and a customer will have to provide the IMPS transaction details. On successful payment, another SMS will be sent by the OTA, along with an e-mail.
For several operators, the SMS itself can work as e-ticket, the company said in a statement.
"India is the largest market for mobile phones, with the growth in handsets sales and new mobile connections far outpacing the sales of desktops, notebooks and new internet connections. Mobile is the perfect channel for a travel company to provide real value and service to the customer. To ensure that non-smartphone users can also avail and experience the benefits of the mobile platform, we have developed this SMS-based service for bus ticket reservation," said Amit Somani, chief products officer at MakeMyTrip.
With this new SMS-based bus ticket booking in place, MakeMyTrip could be trying to gain a competitive edge over others in a crowded and highly competitive OTA space in India. This comes at a time when South African media conglomerate Naspers has already acquired the online bus ticketing business redBus.in, a market leader in this space. redBus will be integrated with the Indian arm of Naspers, the Ibibo group, and this will further strengthen its existing OTA Goibibo.
MakeMyTrip claims to offer bus tickets for 1300-plus operators for 12000-plus routes, including the inventory for Punbus/Punjab Roadways, GSRTC, Goa and Bihar Road Transport Corporation and Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation.
"We targeted bus ticket reservation for this platform (mobile) since the ticket value is lower and most first-time users can confidently experiment with the channel. We believe that the future of e-commerce and travel buying experience is on the mobile and we will continue to build products with a mobile-first approach," added Somani.
A couple of weeks ago, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations, launched a similar service to facilitate train ticket booking through SMS. IRCTC said that the service would be available from July 1 onwards. However, it is yet to announce the dedicated number to which users can send SMS.
Launched in 2005, MakeMyTrip is an online travel site with real-time booking for flights, hotels, holidays and cars. The company claims that its portal attracts over 7.2 million unique visits every month. It has also established an offline presence through 61 outlets across India.
(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)