Gone are the days when we saw huge lines in front of ticket counters for travel bookings and had a headache every time we thought of a trip. The advent of the internet has changed how we travel and have fun. From online booking sites where every trip is promoted with a discount, to travel agents who used their monopoly and booked at exorbitant rates, this article will highlight the ways the internet has altered our travel.
Till the end of this century, the favorite mode of booking travel tickets was by personally going to the ticket counters or if you were financially stable, you had your Trusted travel agent do the job for you. These agents charged anywhere between 30 to 50% fees per ticket. But you did not mind because it was like a convenience charge for you.
Now, we are constantly bombarded with discounts and promotions, and we tend to crib about even a 10% hike on the cost of the ticket.
In the early 2000s when the famous travel site ‘MakeMyTrip’ was launched, only a handful of us used it to actually book tickets. A majority of the patrons to the site just used it to compare rates and later booked the tickets through their travel agents. The people who actually booked tickets through the portal were the ones who were comfortable with using the internet and who ‘trusted’ that their banking information would not be misused – as very few Indians transacted online and they thought that their money might ‘Disappear’ if they shared their information online. The way MakeMyTrip changed the landscape for such online transactions and how people got comfortable with the same is a case study for another day.
Let’s talk about how the internet has grown and how it has changed our travel for the better. The internet was launched for the public in 1990. India, on the other hand, got its first public internet in 1995, thanks to VSNL. Though we were 5 years behind in adopting the internet, the Indian market is one of the largest internet consumers in the world. There are over 500 million registered internet users in 2018, only in India. And there are over 337 million smartphone users in India. These statistics alone project us way ahead, by volume, of the USA who has 283.5 million Internet users and 56.5 million smartphone users in 2018.
Owing to the huge volume of users and the ‘Digital India’ movement, various companies offering discounted rated for travel have cropped up. You can find companies trying to woo their prospective customers through discounts, easier booking techniques and better platforms.
Everywhere we go, we have the need to stay connected. Whether it is by sharing pictures of the food we eat or places we see, or just to stay in touch with our loved ones. You can now find internet in Trains, buses and even cabs. The train/ bus stations and airports are now being made ‘wifi ready’ to accommodate this need of passengers to stay connected. I mean, it’s great for passengers but it’s even better for the authorities that deploy such infrastructure.
Confused? No, it’s not just a public service. Various authorities make money by promoting ads on the landing pages or reduce their own advertisement costs. Also, the setup cost of such an infrastructure is negligible in the long run as compared to the monetary benefits. Come to think about it, it’s a win-win for all.
Metro rails, trains and buses are now being installed with screens that display ‘infotainment’, which is essentially a mix of ads and entertainment content. These screens are a respite from the mind-numbingly boring journeys that we all have experienced at one point in time or the other.
Even airlines who struggle to differentiate themselves from the competition have now introduced Wifi onboard planes. Though these technologies are expensive and offer little consolation from the bad bandwidth and coverage issues. But the internet has encroached this space none the less.
No one can deny the contribution that the internet has had in our lives, but one of the biggest changes it has brought about is in the way we travel and have fun. You can now book your tickets, hotels and favorite sightseeing spots online with the click of a button, and that is not all, you get a discount in doing so because of the competition in the market.
And the best news is that the more pervasive the internet gets, the more benefits we will have.
So here’s to lots of happy travels for everyone!! Adios!