Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yet Again - India's Online Travel

Although I haven't been too aggressive at writing my blog, I have been regularly reading the Tech-blogs; especially India centric ones.

Two of the new sites in Indian's online travel space I can mention here are iXiGo and 90DI. iXiGo, if I remember correctly, was launched in beta long time back. I remember using this site a few months back, although it was launched officially in Jan end.
During Oct/Nov time, I did extensive search through all the travel sites for a package to Mauritius [My honeymoon trip after my marriage on 3rd Dec :)] and finally I decided to go with MakeMytrip.

During that time only I learnt how many travel portals are available in india. The ones I searched through were -
MakeMyTrip, Yatra, TravelGuru, Arzoo (Sabeer Bhatia!), Cox&King, Raj travels, SOTC, TravelMasti, JourneyMart etc.

After checking out packages on their site, I mailed all of these OTAs. What tempted me to go with MakeMyTrip was their promptness in replies and their proactive approach of providing much more information then I asked every time. I will say Yatra and TravelGuru were close second, though.
Of course, these are not the major parameters for judging the service quality of the OTAs but then, I didn't have any other parameter to take into consideration! Rest of the things were almost same!

Anyways, back to iXigo and 90DI; My personal favorite for local flight ticket booking has been ClearTrip because of their neat-and-clean UI. (Unlike UIs of MakeMyTrip, Yatra, TravelGuru...
The UI of iXiGo is almost as cool as that of ClearTrip but the advantage I find at iXiGo is that they direct me to the airline's site for booking [Yes... I will say that's advantage! :)]
OTAs like ClearTrip and others charge cancellation/rescheduling service charge in addition to what the airline charges.
For this sole reason, I generally prefer to book through the airline's website directly whenever there's a chance of me canceling/rescheduling the ticket!
It is surprising to learn that ClearTrip's result cannot be found on iXiGo as ClearTrip chose to deny access of their data to iXiGo. (http://devanand.wordpress.com/2007/07/07/ixigo-vs-cleartrip/)

About 90DI, they have used AJAX (e.g. in city search feature) but somehow the design doesn't look attractive. The frontpage looks to be too big or may be,the logo at the top of thepage eats up too much of screen-space!

Albeit, they have come up with some new idea. Providing Flight+Train solution.
Useful for people like me.... A always have to book Flight+ Train to go to Surat From Bangalore (Bangalore-Mumbai-Surat)
The feedback I sent them was -
There should be a feature to choose desired time difference between flight and train timings.
Generally the train timings you display are hardly 45 to 90 minutes time-distance from flight landing time ( I searched for Bangalore-Surat route), but practically speaking, one MUST expect the flight landing (or the time to come out of airport) to get delayed by more than 1 to 1.5 hrs.
I always prefer to keep at least 2 hours difference between my flight landig time and train departure time.

Anyways, good service to provide flight+train timings.
You can introduce Flight+Bus service as well. Bus is always a possible alternative to train.

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