Ibibo ramps up global bus GDS plans via Malaysia/Singapore
Indian travel group Ibibo has stepped up its ambitions to operate a global, GDS-type product for buses, launching its redBus business into Malaysia and Singapore.
The launch into the two new markets is the first stage in its expansion plans and comes a couple of years after Ibibo bought redBus for an undisclosed sum.
And last year it bought Bangalore-based start-up YourBus which gave it a bus tracking and analytics dimension to add to its booking business.
There are three parts to the redBus business, all of which are now active in Malaysia and Singapore. The eponymous B2C brand allows customers to book bus tickets online – www.redbus.sg has 5,700 routes available – domestic Malaysian services and those operating between Malaysia and Singapore. Ibibo has launched versions on Android and IoS as well, while Indian users can access a dedicated channel on the site to book seats for their trips.
The redBus India site meanwhile has grown 80% year on year and claims to have a 75% share of the online bus ticket market in India. Mobile accounts for 40% of its transactions.
But Ibibo also recognises the B2B potential of redBus. “SeatSeller” is its distribution channel which connects third parties such as OTAs, offline travel agents and corporates to the inventory. Some 10,000 businesses in India use this to sell bus tickets direct to consumers.
Completing the GDS comparisons is its bus IT brand “BOSS”, which is a cloud based technology platform for bus operators.
The potential for a global bus GDS (with a B2C brand thrown in for cash-generation) is a compelling idea, particularly in markets where bus travel is more widely used than it is in say Europe or North America.
As redBus CEO Prakash Sangam explains:
“The bus market in many countries is similar to that in India, characterized by a fragmented bus operator base and largely unorganized or semi-organized. As a result, much of the ticket booking happens offline at the physical ticketing counters of the bus operators.”
This places redBus at the heart of O2O – offline to online – a trend in Asia-Pacific as businesses across many verticals look to capitalise as people in the region become more confident using their smartphones for small-scale transactions at the expense of offline purchases.
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