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HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014

Online bookers court hinterland bus rides

Ruchi Hajela, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 01, 2007
First Published: 22:56 IST(1/11/2007) | Last Updated: 23:17 IST(1/11/2007)
Want to travel to Jaipur from Delhi or Bangalore to Hyderabad? Eager start-up companies are pioneering a revolution on the roads, with websites that help you book bus-tickets at the click of a mouse. Like in the case of airline-driven travel portals, these involves search technologies and an entrepreneurial drive that helps offline deliveries.

During a Diwali break two years ago in Bangalore, Phanindra Sarma, who used to be with micro-chip maker Texas Instruments, struggled in a traffic jam to get a ticket to reach his hometown. Thanks to that trouble, he founded redBus.in, for which he joined hands with former IBM-mer Sudhakar Paspunuri and Honeywell executive Charan Padmaraju.

The company now has tie-ups with more than 170 bus partners across India, connecting farflung places that include small dots on the maps like Chittorgarh, Fatehpur and Davangere.

It sells over 500 tickets a day earning revenues from partnership commissions. Like in the case of airline bookings, a printout serves as the ticket. You can select your seat online and also get tickets home delivered by paying an extra Rs. 20.

"Those who do not have a credit card can also pay once the ticket is home delivered," Mayank Bidwatka, head of marketing at Red Bus, told Hindustan Times.

For those residing in Western India, Ticketvala.com owned by Travis Internet Private Limited, a company funded by Footprint Ventures and set up by travel industry professionals, offers a load of options. These include add-ons such as hotel and car reservations, and even a phone-in option for destinations not listed on the site.

"The share of bus bookings in the total online booking market is in single digits today, but we do believe it has a lot of potential in addressing the pain points of the end consumer," says Haranath Lokanadham, Ticketvala's chief executive officer.

The business is also seeing competition grow. South-centred Customerneedz.com a firm founded by a graduate of IIM, Bangalore, connects 200 cities and only allows credit-card or online payments. But it is planning to introduce live chat help. It also allows cancellations on the Net.
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