Did that come as a surprise? To me it didn’t. IRCTC is the first transaction I have done online in India. It is convenient and saves a lot of time. The charge they levy on the ticket booking is very minimal when compared to the waiting time or any charge the concierge or any such arrangement takes.
IRCTC simply provides convenience with an easy to use interface. It charges extra for it which makes it sustainable. Instead of going for a populist or subsidized schemes notorious with our government, IRCTC has a sustainable business model. Or else it could not contribute 3400 crores to the total Indian e-Commerce pie of 9000 crores.
Till last year, the railways allowed bookings two months in advance, which meant trains running in April and May were filled by March. This year, it has allowed booking three months in advance, anticipating summer crowds, and has not been disappointed. Its earnings for Feb’09, three months before the peak summer month of May ‘09, stands at Rs.198.25 crore, compared to Rs.182.04 crore in March ’08, two months before March ‘08. (BusinessStandard)
In the first 2 months of 2009 IRCTC sold 38.7 million tickets which is 104% more than what it sold in the whole of 2008. Part of the reason is the coming summer holiday reason. IRCTC has opened up the bookings 3 months before. But, the increase is quite drastic and there has to be more reasons than the holiday season.
IRCT also stood in the way of India’s low-cost airline revolution (if you can call that). Air Deccan and others fought very hard to take passengers away from Indian Railways but the online bookings and other offers kept IRCTC and Indian Railways still the favorite.
This surge is happening in spite of companies like redbus and ticketvala offering tickets online for bus travel. Maybe the contribution of these sites have increased too. But the buses jack up their prices during holiday and festival season. Our humble IRCTC doesn’t resort to those gimmicks.
Pluggd.in has conducted a poll recently for the most trusted travel site and iXIGo came out to be the most trusted. Yatra, Cleartrip and 90di followed. Their poll only covered startup and non-PSU’s. If they have included IRCTC it would have come out trumps. IRCTC would also be the most profitable travel site.