Online travel agent MakeMyTrip has launched SMS based bus ticket booking service which will allow feature phones to book bus tickets on their phone. The company claims that it offers bus tickets for more than 1300 operators over more than 12,000 routes in India.
The platform is powered by txtWeb, an open platform for SMS applications, which allows one to discover and consume Internet based services on SMS.
In order to book a bus ticket via SMS, one needs to send an SMS @mbus <From-City> <To-City> <Date-of-Travel> <No.of Passengers> to 9664896648. MakeMyTrip will respond with choices for different operators on that day route. It will also responds with a template to provide details, names of travelers, and payment. Users will have to provide IMPS transaction details to make a payment. MakeMyTrip claims that it sends an SMS along with an email on successful payment, however, it’s not clear in the process where MakeMyTrip collects one’s email address. It also claims that for some bus operators the SMS can also work as e-ticket.
According to CMR’s India Mobile Handsets Market Review, India registered 221.6 million mobile handset shipments for the year 2012, out of which 206.4 million were feature phone handsets, a rise of 19.9% YoY from 172.2 million feature phones handsets shipped in 2011. While Smartphone handsets are on rise in the country, feature phones still take up a lot of market share. However, booking through SMS is a bit tedious process.
Currently, MakeMyTrip offers its smartphone apps on Android, iOS, and BlackBerry. It also offers a mobile site which can be accessed from any mobile browser at m.makemytrip.com. In February 2013, MakeMyTrip had launched an app called Trip Ideas which provides trip ideas around upcoming holidays and weekends. The app is available for download on Google’s Android platform, Apple’s iOS platform.
We aren’t aware of any other online bus travel site that takes booking through SMS. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is reported to be launching an SMS based and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) based ticket booking service starting July 1, 2013.
In May 2013, MakeMyTrip had launched a last minute hotel deals initiative on mobile and its website where it offered customers with a minimum of 30% discount on these deals. Its mobile app and website will display the last minute hotel deals as the first five hotels in search results for same-day check-in.