Thursday, March 13, 2008

Buying Air Tickets - Time & Money Factors

There has been a confusion with the customers. A person willing to buy an air ticket is generally confused as to where should he buy his air tickets from. This confusion can be a mixed result of a number of reasons. Especially, when a Traveller is not pretty sure about his preferences i.e. Full Service Carrier to Low Cost Carrier, One Travel Agent over Another or sometimes one Travel Agent over an airline or One Airline over another, Time to Money, Cash to credit card to cheque and many such possibilities that renders him confused to make a firm decision. The person then spend time browsing over internet, asking friends or relatives for advice and making a couple of phone calls before actually buying an Air Ticket.

(I shall keep this limited to the buying of Air tickets only as thats something I shall unveil in the closing end of this article)

For the same reason, it sometimes make me think that Monopoly is better than competition. At least it helps eradicating price discrimination. So, at the end of your journey, you would not feel being exploited unnecessarily and will be much satisfied because every other passenger sitting in that airplane has paid the same price for the journey, which you did. Also, in a monopolistic scenario, you HAVE to buy, as you cannot make choices. Thus, it helps getting rid of the confusion that stuck us everytime we travel.

Now, with all the travel agents sitting all across India - online & offline, the competition is no doubt cut-throat and it benefits you greatly because every agent tries to shell his profits towards you as discounts and thus hope to build loyalty from you and pushing the competitors down. And you avail discounts as if they were a product you bought. But does that help you getting out of the confusion? No. Infact, even then you are skeptical, that there must be someone who could offer a better price. Incidentally, the unknown satisfaction thresholds are much above the known 'discount thresholds'.

Coming back to the innumerous travel agents and the confusion which still persist in your mind even when you have been able to get the best discount on your ticket, we all try to know and get in touch with as many Agents as possible so as to satisfy our insatiable soul of making the wisest decision. This was realised by the businessmen out there in the corporate world and they were ready with a decent solution for all of us. Cheers, We got a new breed of Agents, who did nothing but collected all the Online agents on one single webpage for you to easily compare fares and make a quick decision. This is a great leap which has eased you out of the tiring work of following up referrals, searching web, and doing all sort of things before you actually purchase.

These Agents came to be known as Meta-Search Engines, who searched for your desired flight plan and retrieve information from all the available Online Agents selling that plan, Index it on to their database, arrange them and produce it to you with your choice of sorting them out. Whether these Meta search Agents really succeeded or will succeed is a long matter of discussion & debate and I shall discuss it in subsequent posts. But the fact here is that we have a ready made solution at hand that shows us the best price that we could get if booked on the internet.

Solution of one problem is not the solution of all. There will always be a problem in this world and so would be a solution. This is a balance that God maintains. So now, another problem that many people subconsciously would feel but havent yet been introduced to, is the preference of time over money (or money over time). Factually speaking, there are only two valuable things that make people run: Time & Money.

What makes you decide when you buy an Air ticket- Time or Money? Well both are inversely proportional to each other. More the money you spend, less time it would take for you to reach the destination. But if you want to spend less money, it may take a while before you reach your destination. This is why Trains are cheaper then Airplanes, unless another factor Luxury comes into play. so, mathematically, if Time is denoted as 'T' and Money is denoted as 'M', then

T =k/M (where k is a constant).

Hence, k=T*M. .........[1]

While purchasing a ticket, we always try to strike the right balance between both Time and Money. By eq (1), it is quite clear that if the value of k is minimum, you would not hesitate to
buy your ticket.

It is this k, that shall decide as to what can be a best option for you.

This k, as you would see, shall serve a very nice purpose for you logically and would help in making a ticket purchase much easier than what it had been. I will discuss this in the next Post and we will also see if this will be applicable to the hotels.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Traffic Comparison of all LCCs (Low Cost Carriers) of India

With the Online travel gaining popularity, the run is after catching the maximum number of visitors on a website. Similar to the footfalls in a Retail Store, the websites compete each other in gathering these internet users. This, basically, helps in two ways:

1. More visitors and even lesser conversion would still mean better earnings.
2. More visitors would help in attracting advertisers too.
Online Marketing unheard of earlier is an area of specialisation and claims a separate operational division in an organisation.

The Online travel gained pace 3-4 yrs back with the advent of Low Cost Carriers in India which worked principally through the internet. Although Online spending is still low (as compared to the offline) for an LCC, but the business is 100% online!

The first pioneer being Air Deccan in the LCC arena, others followed. Today, there are 4 LCCs fully operational and constantly sharpening their knives for the cut-throat competition. Jet Airways branded its new acquisition of Air Sahara as "Jet Lite" into the Low Cost segment. This has increased the strength of LCCs by 1 and reduced the FSCs (Full Service Carriers) by the same number.
The air travel in India is majorly LCC driven and possess almost 40% of the market share. This share is bound to increase with more sectors being added to the network of an airline. The LCC, which still operate on limited sectors would increase their area of operation and this shall, undoubtedly, boost their market share. Further, regular improvisation of the strategies and services would also help in building more and cutting on some of the FSCs share of the pie too.

While all LCCs operate Online, even the FSCs are looking forward to getting their business shifted to the Online methodology rather than the old brick and mortar style. With more and more Online Travel companies like, and, things are becoming easier for all - the traveller, the Supplier and the retailer. But this is essentially choking down the businesses of the Offline Travel Agents who percieve this as a threat. The bigger ones, however, would shift to being online. An example is which is the Online identity for Cox & Kings.

Check out more such comparison graphs on Alexa.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Medical Tourism: The Latest Buzz

Very recently I got to know that there is a pretty old form of travel gaining popularity these days. Not that travel for Medical Purposes have been unknown, but the brand-sensitivity of today’s world has endorsed it with “Medical Tourism”.

Fun, frolic, adventure, exploration, hills, lakes, forests, landscapes, valleys are the normal reflex ideas as the term “Tourism” touches your tympanum. But a Patient being classified as a Tourist is something that leaves an immediate pitiful smile on my face. Probably this is something of a black comedy that the world is ready to sensibly adopt for a classification in their economic books and affix further data to commerce.

My ethical sense strongly condemns.
A patient who might just be holding that imperceptibly weak thread of life has to choose from a list of ‘Medical Packages’ that he is mentally doubtful of (at least while he is a patient) and give operators the benefit of the situation he is in. Or possibly the family might choose on behalf of the patient, who are just more concerned of the cure rather than the luxuries attached. Does this justify the operators’ role of slowly rubbing his scalpel onto the patient’s wallet?
Of course it does! The breadbasket is very demanding 

More so, the Doctors find their real fiscal value in such an environment and could easily succumb to their wealth conscious grey cells. Thus, unlike the era-long-forgotten, the doctors have grown a ‘financial-viability-testing’ eye that measures the cases (now projects), above a comfort line. The financial feasibility has to be determined and negotiations are not completely ignored.

But does this really is that dark or has it done more good than harm.
The economic sense,however, sings a different song altogether. It seems to be a win-win situation for both the patients and the operators. The patients are now aware of cheaper medical packages and can easily choose the one matching to their budget and liking. Just as an instance, a heart valve surgery that could cost around $250000 in US now can be performed in India at a mere $16000!! A patient buying once may then sit back and relax and so can his attendants as the purchase eases them of their run on every minute for every little requirement. The package is complete in that it offers you all that is required in a well determined clean packet with all required enclosures.
The unsatisfied patients have more options at hand and can easily read reviews upon a medical help and make decisions accordingly.

The brand building, thereby, essentially helps the patient and opens up their telescopic window which is a product of the promotions done for the brand. The attracting destination may start counting the foreign currency which is always sought for and give a positive thrust on the Balance of Payments.

Also, a new community of Medical Tour Operators is born and we have more specialized areas and increased employment opportunities.

Whether branding Medicine in such a way is fine or not, is a difficult decision to make. But it is already here and India bears a huge potential to en-cash. Err….En-cash or Help?