IRCTC, railway ticket booking platform, is partnering with internet-led companies such as Paytm, BlaBlaCars and Amazon to expand its footprints beyond railway travel and enter air ticketing, hotel bookings, e-commerce, and ride-sharing business.
A K Manocha, chairman and managing director of IRCTC said he wants IRCTC to become an online travel aggregator offering a host of services.
On the e-commerce front, IRCTC’s contract with Amazon ended in June and it has invited fresh bids for its e-tailing sector. Official at IRCTC confirmed that it is in talks with Flipkart and Snapdeal for the e-commerce business.
IRCTC has also tied-up with Paytm for sale of its unreserved ticket, Manocha said. If the consumer makes the transaction via Paytm he will be able to redeem the service charge with payback points offered by Paytm. “This will be cheaper as well as convenient for public than going to the booking counter,” he added. IRCTC targets sales of about 15-20 million unreserved tickets via the Paytm platform.
In June 2015, the ticket booking platform had tied up with BlaBlaCar to offer ride sharing to its travellers.
Raghav Gupta, India country manager at BlaBlaCar said, “We have an advertising tie-up with IRCTC on their website. If a person needs to travel from city A to city B, with train options they will also see the option of BlaBlaCar.”
This ensures visibility across 4.25 crore registered users of IRCTC across India.
The contract is reviewed every six months and currently the discussion with IRCTC is underway. Gupta shared that IRCTC contributed a significant portion to the total number of rides booked and it pays a fixed fee for banner display on the website. Manocha said that IRCTC is building a cloud for cab pooling and a database for all the users.
Big data analytics will be used in a commercial way to provide for better services, this will also facilitate the removal of the current limit on bookings done through an ID.
IRCTC has recently also signed a memorandum of understanding with SBI to work out a detailed plan for promotion of rail ticketing activities, including internet ticketing and unreserved ticketing system.
Given the scale and the user base of IRCTC it has an edge over travel portal such as Cleartrip, Yatra, and Makemytrip, among others. Also IRCTC’s reach in Tier II and Tier III cities can help the e-commerce companies garner larger traction from such areas. After e-tailing, travel and hospitality was holding the largest share of funding in the first half of 2016 with 21%.
In April, Oyo Rooms’ mopped up $100 million from Greenoaks Capital and Softbank being the only $100 million+ deal in the internet sector in the April-June quarter, according to a report by Jefferies India. Other deals in the travel segment in 2016 include $250 million raised by Ibibo Group, $17 million by Treebo Hotel, $14 million by Stayzilla.com and $8 million by FabHotels.