90di travel search blog

Archive for June, 2011

Travel Search actually saves you money, and more …

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The inspiration for this post is, some of the feedback, we got on our facebook page recently regarding savings some travellers, were able to make while using us to find the best flight/train and booking directly (at Airline or Railways site).

One user was able to save Rs. 2018/-. Where as another found a flight for 3.5K on our site, where as some of the big Online Travel Agents (OTA) were showing it for much-much higher!

We also did a post explaining our travel search model some time back. Here is a fresh take on it:

  1. Internet is about removing redundancies, and also superficial intermediaries. And that is primarily by virtue of making the information flow, easily possible, between entities (peoples & systems).
  2. In an ideal scenario, on the Internet, when user wants to book a flight, information from all the Airlines should just flow into the user’s tool (computer/any thing), without any intermediary. There is a seller there is a buyer. The two kinds are sufficient for the trade to happen. And both need each other. Every thing else, can be dispensed with, if not helping the trade, by adding value.
  3. Let’s say for the moment, that no intermediary exists, whether its the OTAs, or travel search engines like 90di. This removes the intermediaries, but then what happens is: User has has to open 10 tabs in the browser, one for each Airline, and one perhaps for IRCTC. So it will be kind of painful for the user.
  4. So basically, some kind of tool is required to make the travel booking process easier. To assist and assimilate the flow of travel information.
  5. But the question is where should the tool stop – meaning what all features it should not have. If it goes on to do booking on behalf of the user, and by that it adds to the cost of travel – hefty commissions; and the double cancellation charges (one to the Airline and one to the OTA). And thereby starting to drain the travel booking eco-system.
  6. More over, Airlines can’t pass on some of the advantages to consumer as part of the booking – For example purchasing food at the time of booking. This particular aspect is a lose-lose proposition for both the Airlines and the traveller. As user is constrained by the limitations of the “generic-for-all-Airlines” features provided by the OTA. And the Airline can’t ‘demonstrate’ more value to the consumer upfront.
  7. So it seems obvious to us, and hopefully to many of you reading this, that travel search engines are the kind of tools you need for travel planning, and nothing more. Anything more – like the booking – and the tool starts to come in your way.

We are glad to be of value to our users. And although, there are some difficulties(+), we try and continue, in the belief, that we are instrumental in the travel search model getting established in India. Which, we believe, is in the best interests of both the suppliers (like Indian Railways and Airlines) and, equally if not more important, for the consumer. We didn’t just say it when we said ‘We are on the traveller’s side’!

 

+ Difficulties like not getting paid by all the Airlines yet — it’s taking some time. And not making anything on the trains’ search – Indian Railways does not yet support the travel search model (although we are hopeful, and have been patiently following up with them). But there are silver lines. Big Thanks to the Airlines that pay us, we are able to keep ourselves motivated and, which reinforces our belief in this model.

Need for ‘Social’ protocol built into the Internet

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Have been feeling the need for Internet 2.0 (not web 2.0!), with social protocols, to support applications like Facebook, Twitter wired in. Thereby allowing people to choose between multiple ‘social’ providers.

Just like mails (via SMTP etc.) have been there from early days of Internet, with multiple email providers including Desktop clients.

Else, we will have the problem of a private body (e.g. Facebook) controlling way too much. Like what Google does by being the ‘start page’ of the Internet, and now people are talking about search being part of Internet (there were also a couple NY Times articles some time back on the same).

A paranoid user, should be able to have everything on her Desktop, or her own storage in the cloud. But communicate to others via a ‘social’ protocol (akin to SMTP).

So just like one has gmail/yahoo and other mail, one should be able to choose his/her ‘social’ account(s) and still be able to collaborate with his/her friends using the ‘social’ protocol.

To be more clear in such an environment it doesn’t matter if I am on Orkut or Facebook or on both. Or simply have hacked up a desktop tool, which can talk ‘social’.

I think the Open social protocol has not really taken off in that direction. What I have in mind is just an application level protocol like HTTP/SMTP, which is directly over TCP. Hence it should be more of an Internet standard (owned by IETF types) rather than a consortium of corporates (which I think Open Social is).

NOTE: This blog has opinions and thoughts, which are personal of Khushnood Naqvi, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of 90di.

PS: I have not done deep research to write this note. And this was written, some time back. But I still believe, most of the things are still valid – as in Facebook continues to be the dominant social network. Would like to be educated on any efforts, which are in this direction, or counter view points.