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Last updated: 18 Jun, 2018  

Arvind.Lama.9.Thmb.jpg Tourism-dependent MSEs can expand reach adopting IT: Travelyaari CEO

Arvind.Lama.9.jpg
Aurvind Lama, CEO and Founder Travelyaari
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SME Times News Bureau | 18 Jun, 2018

Adopting information technology, tourism-dependent micro and small enterprises can reign market muscles, said Aurvind Lama, CEO and Founder Travelyaari , in an exclusive interview with SME Times.

Excerpts of the interview…

Please tell us about Travelyaari and its entrepreneurial journey.
Aurvind Lama: The flagship product of Mantis Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Travelyaari is an online bus booking platform which leverages technological solutions to simplify and streamline bus ticketing processes. The company is looking to make life easier for Indian travellers by bringing in service providers and travellers on to one end-to-end integrated platform. This not only to brings in more transparency and convenience but also better collaboration between different service providers to deliver a more reliable service to the end-consumer. The vision is to increase the affinity of the Indian consumer towards road travel, given that most of India still travels by bus.

Mr. Aurvind Lama is the Co-founder & CEO of Mantis Technologies Pvt. Ltd is a Bachelor of Technology (Information Technology) graduate from the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad, and an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. A veteran with vital industry experience; Aurvind, has worked with Infosys, Deutsche Post World Net (Germany) and Honeywell before he co-founded Mantis Technologies Pvt. Ltd, in November 2008. He was not only pivotal in getting the first 50 bus service providers onto the Travelyaari platform, but also scaling it to over 2000 transporters connecting more than 17,000 destinations and facilitating bus ticketing transactions on 6000 high-traffic outlets.

Travelyaari leverages technology solutions to simplify and streamline bus ticketing processes. Please elaborate.
Aurvind Lama:
With technology as its primary service enabler, Travelyaari has today established its position as the largest bus market platform in India. In addition to its B2C bus ticketing service, the platform offers ERP solutions to more than 2000 bus transporters through BusCRS (www.buscrs.com) and is also the provider of the largest inventory distribution service to OTAs and online and offline travel agents through its global distribution system, www.iamgds.com. The company has helped many small providers achieve computerisation and streamline their operations, and currently has enabled digitalisation of 55% of the overall service provider base. At present, over 4000 operator outlets and 5000 direct agents are on board its platform conducting an annual business worth $450 million.

You bring all the key stakeholders – service providers, agents and consumers. We want to know more about this.
Aurvind Lama:
The company’s USP lies in bringing all the key stakeholders – service providers, agents, OTAs and consumers – across online and offline channels onto a single platform to provide end-to-end ticketing solutions. It has heralded the creation and implementation of a 100% real-time digitalised bus ticket inventory system across India. It allows customers to view and confirm seat allocation in real-time. Moreover, in order to further enhance the end-user experience, Travelyaari is building reliability/ assurance layer on top of services provided by different vendors through the following features:

  • Assured booking: Travelyaari makes inventory “live” for its consumers through live charts, allowing them to browse through available seats and select the exact seat that they want to book.

  • Cancellation-proof booking: In case of service cancellation from bus operators, Travelyaari gives its users the provision of alternate means of transport in the same or superior class.

  • Timely Confirmation: Travelyaari informs customers of pickup time changes and cancellations and alternate arrangements at least one hour prior to the departure time.

  • Refunds: If alternate arrangements cannot be made within the specified timeframe, Travelyaari provides a refund equal to double the booking amount to the customer.

Please share your views on the current status of the travel and tourism industry in India.
Aurvind Lama:
The Indian travel market is growing at a very profligate pace. With the expanding economic scenario, people are now having more disposable incomes, greater awareness because of internet and social media. Travel and tourism Industry is flourishing. Consumers are moving more towards online travel booking. The travel industry is also responding highly to the rising demand for vacations.

The number of travel agents, both online and offline, is increasing and large generalist players are also coming up. The number of niche players have also increased in last few years and agents specializing in previously unheard segments like women only travel, pilgrimage travel, cruise holidays and others are also coming up. Both online and offline, who earlier were limited to specializing in one segment (like air tickets, only corporate travel agents etc) are now moving, or have already moved, towards the leisure and vacation travel segments. Additionally, as more people coming online, smartphone penetration is increasing and use of digital payments is going up.

In the present scenario, it has become easy for the online players to use technology and advanced analytics capability to understand individual journey needs and offer curated travel solutions. The industry is now in a position to utilize technology with the availability of artificial intelligence tools and analytics.

What opportunities this sector provide to micro and small enterprises?
Aurvind Lama:
Micro and small enterprises dependent on tourism despite the apparently strong competition between a large number of service providers. As a rule these are part of a destination, which leaves its stamp on their products and services. Tourism dependent small businesses capitalise on the uniqueness of their destination. Each destination has the characteristics of a marketable brand, with an economic value as important as any in the consumer goods industry.

Tourism-dependent micro and small enterprises have already begun to make use of information technology. It is possible for even the smallest companies today to be virtually present in markets around the world and around the clock thanks to the information highways. Direct booking at little cost is no longer a problem. This can be either via email or through the destination's sophisticated information and reservation system. The Internet and ‘online’ services have helped tourism-dependent micro and small enterprises and traditional destinations to regain market muscle. Information technology above all helps the smaller type of tourism-dependent company to increase productivity. Today for example it is possible to outsource many "back office" services, allowing company management to concentrate on the core duties of caring for the customer, ensuring the quality of services and improving the value of the experiences provided.

What is your view on the road infrastructure projects being implemented under the government. Will they bring some revolutionary changes or we are lagging somewhere else which needs to be addressed?
Aurvind Lama:
Generally, driving on most Indian roads means facing poor infrastructure and road congestion, which has an adverse effect on travel time and road safety. It does not bode well with the country’s booming economic activity and reflects inefficiency in the transportation of goods and services across the country.

Identifying this as a hindrance towards economic growth, the government has approved the plan for a massive overhaul of the country’s road network. It has earmarked around Rs 7,00,000 crore to develop around 80,000km of the country’s road by 2022, which will include construction of new economic corridors connecting major cities and economic hubs in the country. This will help in eradicating infrastructure gaps to improve road traffic movement across the country and will increase freight transportation on highways to great extent.

Decongestion of national corridors, and with interventions like ring roads, bypasses and lane expansions will help in reducing travel time for people and goods, which is going to have a great impact on travel industry. Also improving road connectivity with India’s north-eastern states and neighbours, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal will enhance the approachability to these less explored places.

What are your future plans?
Aurvind Lama:
Organising the unorganised bus industry, Travelyaari, through its end to end solution has built India’s largest online bus-ticket bookings platform. It has taken the crucial responsibility of understanding the need of different stakeholders (travellers, bus service providers, agents and channel partners) and building solutions to streamline the entire industry.

With Travelyaari having cemented its position as a pan-India brand with a market monopoly in the Northern, Central and Western regions of India, it is now looking to build on the platform’s success to expand its geographical regions and footprint to more number of tier-2 and tier-3 markets. Company goals over the next few years is to increasing the transactions and building a smarter and more collaborative transport network throughout the country. Travelyaari will also be looking to enhance its system intelligence and create a robust ecosystem around road travel, by including pickup and drop services, food, and stays, as it sets out to fulfil its vision of building a reliable brand around road travel in India.

 
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