Aurvind Lama, co-founder of Bengaluru-based online booking platform, Travelyaari, believes in the immense potential of bus ticket booking industry in India.
He strongly vouches for the fact that most of India still travels by bus as train journey has its limitations as it does not provide point-to-point connectivity.
It all began when during a trip Lama was overcharged by a private bus operator in Bengaluru. Unhappy with the amount he had to pay, he decided to explore his bus options at Kempegowda Bus Station in Bengaluru and found that there were cheaper alternatives. This prompted him to set up an online bus reservation system in 2008.
Lama, an avid travel enthusiast who often travels to many off beat locations and remote areas in the country, had gauged the reach and potential of the bus industry. “The annual worth of the segment, including the government and private inter and intra-city bus travel, is estimated to be around $73.3 billion and in comparison, the rail travel industry in the country is worth around $7 billion and the Indian air travel industry is worth $6 billion. I wanted to have a system to create supply chain model for the bus ticket industry that would penetrate as many big and small cities as possible and help people all over India to book tickets cheap and hassle-free,” Lama told THE WEEK.
Lama, who hails from Darjeeling in West Bengal, grew up and studied in different places of the country, including Jharkhand, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. After his BTech from IIIT Allahabad, Lama came to Bengaluru to work with Infosys. Two years later, he went to pursue a regular full time MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. After completing his studies and a brief stint with a US MNC, he came back to Bengaluru and launched Travelyaari.
“Our platform has helped in the integration of service providers, agents and consumers across online and offline channels. We have created a real-time digitalised bus ticket inventory system across India that allows customers to view and confirm seat allocation...We are also making ticket inventory ‘live’ for consumers through live charts, allowing them to browse through available seats and select the exact seat that they want to book. Our system also facilitates sending of alerts to consumers in case of service cancellation from bus operators. Also, our system gives the users the provision of alternate means of transport in the same or superior class in view of the cancellation of their existing ticket. Our system is also equipped to inform customers about pick up time changes, cancellations and alternate arrangements at least one hour prior to the departure time. The system also helps in facilitating smooth refunds by the bus operators as the system is completely transparent,” Lama said.
The Travelyaari platform is being used by more than 2,000 bus transport corporations and operators in the country, including Punjab Roadways, Himachal Tourism Development Corporation, Indo Canadian, Konduskar Travels, Saini Travels, Khurana Travels, Kanker Roadways, Libra Travels, Shrinath Travel Agency, Gujarat Travels, Paulo Travels and Hans Travels. The company has also partnered with players like Uttar Pradesh State Transport, Himachal Transport, VRL and Kesineni.
In August this year, the company successfully closed its Series B investment round worth $7 million led by Gujarat Venture Finance Limited (GVFL), Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. and other investors. The latest investment is expected to facilitate product development as well as business growth for the company. Travelyaari had previously raised Series A investment of $3 million. “Besides selling bus tickets directly to the end consumers, our platform is powering bus bookings for MakeMyTrip, RedBus and Abhibus. In the future, we will also be looking to enhance our system intelligence and create an ecosystem around road travel, by including pickup and drop services, food and stays,” said Lama.