Launched in 2002, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) www.irctc.co.in had booked merely 27 tickets on the first day of its commencement of e- ticketing service in the country. Now after 9 years of sparkling journey, it has emerged as a largest in the country with more than 4 lakhs booking per day in terms of online ticketing, leaving behind several high-profile e-commerce sites worldwide. IRCTC website comprises 45% of all visitors to travel websites in India and 19% of total Internet audience.
IRCTC’s rapid growth in e-ticketing has been due to its interface and a very robust process set up for doing e-reservation which facilitates bookings for all types of credit cards, most major debit cards, cash cards facility and Net Banking facility. IRCTC ticketing services have continued to go from strength to strength ever since it came into the markets. It is handling over 40% of the reserved train accommodation of Indian Railways. Right after 2002, IRCTC has seen the number of tickets booked online double. And like the perfect start-up, IRCTC relied only on word-of-mouth publicity. In 2002 the number of tickets getting booked was 27,000 per day and in 2008 it went up to 40,000.
After 2008 it took a big jump. Number of tickets booked through IRCTC website during the year 2010-ll has gone up to 9.69 crore tickets as against 7.20 crore tickets booked during 2009-10. All the major banks in the country offered tie-ups by making available a link to their Internet banking system, which would allow purchase of railway tickets from IRCTC. It has come out as the fastest growing e-commerce site in the whole of the Asia-Pacific region in terms of online money transactions with online ticket selling around Rs. 10 crore a month.
Factors that contributed to the success of IRCTC
The IRCTC success story is undoubtedly an inspiration for the entire generation of e-commerce portals in India. However, behind this success story is a firmed up business plan as well as a near flawless execution till the recent past. Here are some of the reasons why IRCTC became a favorite of train travelers in India.
Economical – In 2002, online booking was a new concept in India, majority of the populations were in awe of it. People in not just tier 2 and 3 towns were in for the shock of their lives to see tickets neatly tucked in envelopes for low service charge. (At Rs. 10/- per person for a booking of a family of 5, even the relatively lower classes did not mind paying for the convenience of tickets being delivered at the doorstep.) IRCTC hits the chord with its economical accessibility.
Quick and efficient connectivity – It is notable to add that IRCTC’s policy of awarding the delivery contract to only one courier company has been a masterstroke. It gives more control to IRCTC over delivery, with just a single channel of communication to take care of. The delivery happens within 24 hours in Delhi and Mumbai where tickets are printed. For other parts of the country, the upper limit is three days. At present, e- tickets Tickets are delivered in 102 cities across the country. Delhi and Mumbai account for the largest share of ticket sales (40 per cent each), and Chennai and Bangalore come next. One of the IRCTC e-selling tickets in places such as Silvasa, Banaras, Ranchi, Vapi and many other small towns.
Easy to navigate and user friendly web interface – The website lays down all possible options, allows one to customize his or her train options based on start and end stations, desired dates, routes and possible fare classes. The interface also allows one to keep a record of all past bookings, cancellations and upcoming trips. To provide a simple, easy to use interface that can support more than 40,000 unique visitors during peak hours and ensuring that every single ticket reaches the consumer in remote locations across the country is something that keeps them at top. Besides it offers the highly secure payment gateways with more than ten options of using credit and debit cards without any hassles.
IRCTC website, in its current state, will be challenged by millions of users, which is increasing day by day. About 40% of these are booked during the morning hours (Primarily between 8 AM – 10 AM) so traffic would major concerns for IRCTC.
In Jan 2011 alone, there were more than 2.9 million failed transactions translating to a humungous 25% fail rate. To add to the woes, failed login attempts and other request failures only goes to show that it is yet achieve its perfection.
IRCTC, over the years, has been receiving several complaints of malpractices. It recently deactivated IDs of 1.4 million users suspected to be indulging in such practices.
Setting up of the commercial portal is also one of the major concerns for IRCTC. The commercial portal of Indian Railways was launched on 08.07.2011with lower service charges. This portal has the facility for booking of Rail etickets also similar to IRCTC website. The operation of commercial portal was suspended on 22.07.2011 due to problems in payment settlement system. Without doubt it will be essential and major concern for keeping the trust of the consumers- IRCTC will look to modernize its IT infrastructure with setting up of disaster management site.
IRCTC is the without a shred of doubt, proved to be a pride and joy of the Indian Railways. In the coming days, the IRCTC plans to tie up with more banks and to offer new services. For its customers IRCTC is set to launch nine day special train from Chandigarh to Shirdi Dham from December 14. IRCTC is planning to set up budget hotels with the state governments of Haryana, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
According to the IRCTC chairman, Rakesh Kumar Tondon, IRCTC aims to become a Rs. 2500 crore company by FY’I5. We are aiming high especially keeping in view of the fact that the turnover target for FY’I2 is only Rs. 500 crore, much lower than Rs. 765 crore achieved during the current year. Our focus is mainly on consolidating the e-ticketing in the country. And now IRCTC is also spreading its wing with flight, hotel and cab booking as well as booking packages; IRCTC may well become a competitor to the more established travel portals like Cleartrip, Makemytrip, Yatra and Easycab in near future.
IRCTC major facts-:
- IRCTC started with small capital base 20 cr
- On first day of e-Ticketing just 27 tickets were booked
- In morning peak time, 35,000 tickets are booked per hour
- TCS designed the ERP for IRCTC in 2006-07
- IRCTC got its Miniratna tag in 2008
- You won’t have to carry a printed ticket soon, just the PNR number in your phone and Identity Proof would do
- IRCTC has integration with 18 banks
- New advance reservation period for booking of Tatkal tickets has been reduced to one day.
- From 21 November 2011, Tatkal e-ticket can be booked one day in advance excluding the date of journey
iamwire’s take on IRCTC
- IRCTC needs to enhance user friendly interface and make it better then new age websites
- IRCTC should integrate all properties (air, rail, etc) into one experience presently they are all different websites.
- IRCTC should make its bank or credit card respond page more optimistic to book ticket as soon as payment made, normally IRCTC bank respond page take 2 minutes to reply to user and Indian Railway server so user get waiting list.