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
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
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
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
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
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.