It's Thursday night, and we have a three-day weekend ahead. “Lets' go to Goa,” a friend has a brainwave. Great idea, only it's too late in the night to make bookings. And, there's no computer around either. So, what do we do? Wait till tomorrow? But by then, the least expensive tickets may be gone. Just as we are wondering what to do, the smartest of the lot says: “All done. We are leaving tomorrow afternoon,” and hoisting up his phone, grins: “Mobile booking!”
And, this seems to be the trend. According to a survey conducted by BuzzBack LLC (a New York City-based international market research firm), there's a change in the way Indians are making their travel bookings. It states that two out of three Indians use the mobile phone for air travel booking, domestic or foreign. “Consumers are looking for a simpler way to purchase travel. The entire way in which a consumer looks for information is something that continuously changes. In keeping with this, Cleartrip has introduced a feature for mobile phones, which doesn't have to be downloaded,” says Noel Swain, executive vice-president — Supplier Relations, Cleartrip.
On the website, the least expensive tickets show up first. Also, it has been designed to function on basic and smart phones alike.
But, the overall percentage of people booking through mobile phones is still quite small. Amit Somani, chief product officer, Makemytrip says: “It accounts for around five per cent of our overall air bookings.” But, he feels the number seems promising. He adds: “We use mobile phones for not just air ticket bookings, but also a host of others such as cancellation of air tickets, tracking refund status on cancelled tickets etc. We plan to use this mobile platform as much more than a ticketing tool.”
If you're waiting long hours at queues for train tickets, just whip out your mobiles from the comforts of your home or wherever you are and book them. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation's (IRCTC) website too is mobile phone friendly. Due to its convenience, not just travel agencies and portals, airlines too have warmed up to the idea of such a facility.
However, there are a few limitations — such as the fear of making transactions using credit cards on mobile phones, and difficulty over tracking fraudulent transactions.
Charan, a frequent flyer says: “Sometimes, I am bored to switch on my laptop, so I just block tickets from my hand phone. But at the end of the day if there is no signal on your phone or your internet is slow, you can say goodbye to your tickets!”