The Internet has become a basic facility across India. The majority of the Indian population has access to internet services these days, and it has made their lives infinitely more convenient and comfortable. One thing that has definitely changed is the way that people look at making bookings and reservations for their travels. Thanks to the services of various travel booking websites, travellers can now look for cheap tickets online at a multitude of websites.
Along with cheap tickets for flights, trains and buses, many of these websites also allow travellers to make online hotel reservations. Basically, these online travel booking websites offer the easiest ways to make the appropriate bookings for your travel, and that too at affordable rates. In this article, we will be taking a closer look at the 10 best Indian websites that facilitate smooth travel.
MakeMyTrip was one of the first companies in India to understand the value of online services. It started way back in the year 2000, and the man behind it was Deep Kalra, an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus. Kalra’s vision was simple; to empower travellers. In its nascent phase, the website just served the India-USA travel market. However, as internet services became more and more accessible and mainstream, it started to offer a whole host of services that ranges from flight bookings to bus bookings to train bookings to online hotel reservations.
What has made MakeMyTrip one of the most successful online travel booking websites is the fact that the company has, over the years, added more and more services to their catalogue. While the company just served one international travel market in its initial days, it caters to customers from multiple domestic and international travel markets these days.
The company also has a presence on mobile platforms, with user-friendly applications allowing users to make their bookings remotely from almost any place that has internet services. The company has expanded beyond Indian borders as well, as it currently has international offices in cities like Bangkok, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and New York.
MakeMyTrip offers the following services to its customers:
• Domestic flight booking offers
• International flight booking offers
• Hotel reservations
• Reservations for villas and apartments
• Train reservations
• Bus reservations
• Cab reservations
• Holiday packages
• Visa processing for international travellers
Loyal users are also rewarded by the company for purchasing their services through more and more MakeMyTrip discount coupons. In this way, the company has managed to satisfy millions of customers and earned itself a loyal fan base. This loyalty ensures that the popularity of the company never goes down an inch.
GoIbibo is a part of the Ibibo group of companies that are big names in the online travel booking industry. Ashish Kashyap founded the company in 2007, and along with MakeMyTrip, it is one of the most trusted names when it comes to reliable online travel bookings and reservations. In terms of services offered, GoIbibo pretty much offers everything that MakeMyTrip does. There is a mobile application as well that allows users to make ticket reservations from their mobile devices.
While there are a lot of similarities between the two companies, there do remain differences in the target audiences. Even though both companies merged in 2017, both maintain distinct brand presences online. While MakeMyTrip generally targets people over 30 years old, GoIbibo is the more preferred option for the youth. The company has a wide range of offers to choose from and like MakeMyTrip, loyal customers are rewarded with lots of special offers and deals.
GoIbibo also takes customer feedback seriously, as the company believes that honest and comprehensive reviews help not only them but also the products and services listed on their website. The website also has a 24/7 helpline, which allows customers to get in touch with the company and seek help at any time of the day.
GoIbibo offers the following list of services to its customer base:
• Bus bookings
• Train bookings through IRCTC
• Cab reservations
• Hotel bookings
• Domestic flight bookings
• International flight bookings
• Route planner
Apart from its wide range of services, the brand has also developed GoCash, a virtual travel booking currency. Through GoCash, the company also offers numerous GoIbibo promo codes for users who book through the platform.
If bus tickets are what you are looking for, then there’s probably no greater platform than RedBus right now. RedBus started off small in the year 2006. However, today, it is a widely known name and has tie-ups with thousands of bus operators around the world. Even though RedBus, like GoIbibo, is a part of the MakeMyTrip group, it maintains an individual presence online and is the go-to name whenever bus booking becomes a concern for travellers.
In its first few years of operation, RedBus was solely a bus booking platform where customers could look for a variety of AC and non-AC non-sleeper and sleeper buses. However, the company has greatly diversified over the years. Today, RedBus is not just a bus booking portal.
Through RedBus, you can hire entire buses for office and leisure trips. There are pilgrimage packages for those who wish to embark on a religious journey. Their latest addition is the rPool feature, through which customers can look for bike and carpool facilities. The rPool feature is just taking its baby steps and is currently active in the cities of Pune, Bangalore, and Hyderabad.
RedBus currently operates not just in India, but in the countries of Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru and Singapore as well. The company has tie-ups with over 2000 bus operators around the world, and so far, more than 180 million bus trips have been booked through the website and its mobile app. Over 17 million customers have used RedBus services and the company’s customer base can only be expected to grow further.
Over the years, RedBus has earned plaudits for its great work. Business Standard has given the company the award for being the ‘Most Innovative Company’. EyeForTravel has also given RedBus the ‘Mobile Innovation Award’. With the company constantly taking steps to make sure that it provides as many conveniences to its customers, it is sure to go a long way still.
PayTM was established in 2010 and today, it is undoubtedly one of India’s most well-known e-commerce brands. While PayTM is mostly used by people for mobile recharges and bill payments, the company also offers flight, train, bus, cars, bikes and hotel bookings for travellers. Even though PayTM is still not as successful as the aforementioned MakeMyTrip, GoIbibo and RedBus, it is still a reliable platform to make your travel reservations.
Booking through PayTM has its unique set of advantages. The most unique advantage is the zero cancellation fees, in case of last-minute changes in your travel plans. While last-minute cancellations typically lead to high cancellation fees and zero refunds, PayTM gives its users the chance to get a full refund even if they cancel at the very last second. They do this through the cancellation insurance, which people can avail as they are finalizing their bookings.
PayTM is also very particular when it comes to providing refunds to their customers. While a lot of companies take time with their refunds, PayTM gives customers back the refund amount within 15 minutes of the booking cancellation. In case they don’t, you are welcome to call their customer care number at any time and express your complaints.
With PayTM wallet, you can also make the checkout process much smoother. Thanks to the wallet facility, you don’t need to enter your card details every time you make a booking through PayTM. PayTM also rewards repeat customers by giving them special PayTM deals and discounts. The best thing about PayTM coupons and deals is the fact that the more you use PayTM to book your travel options, the more offers you will get to choose from.
Functioning very much on the same lines as MakeMyTrip and GoIbibo, Cleartrip is an online travel agency that works globally. The company, founded in 2006, has its headquarters in Mumbai. The vision of the founders Hrush Bhatt, Stuart Crighton and Matthew Spacie was simple; to make everything involving travel simple.
While today, a lot of what Cleartrip offers is very similar to the offerings from other prominent online travel agencies, the company was once an innovator in the business. The one-click booking system was launched by the company, as it allowed users to save their personal and financial details on profiles. Users could then log into their profiles and book tickets without much hassle. In terms of services, Cleartrip allows users to book flights, hotels, and trains.
The company also offers guided tours which allow travellers to enjoy destinations through a person who knows about them thoroughly. Cleartrip also offers rewards to users without them having to subscribe to a program. That’s right! Cleartrip does not have any particular reward program. All users are automatically registered for rewards, and the more you use Cleartrip to complete your bookings, the better the deals are going to get!
The Expressway+ feature, Cleartrip’s latest offering, is also an interesting addition to their catalogue of packages and services. With Expressway+, users can board flights even at the very last minute. Generally, passengers allowed to board flights beyond the stated boarding time. However, Expressway+ spices up the game by giving priority check-in privileges to users, with Expressway+ passengers enjoying a separate line at airports. Additional facilities within the Expressway+ program include complimentary tablets for in-flight entertainment and a personal porter to help you with your luggage.
CheapTicket is an online travel company that offers attractive deals for plane tickets both for domestic and international airlines. The company is all about finding the best deals on plane tickets and is a favourite with frequent flyers all over the world.
The company offers extremely affordable flying options, especially to those who use certain bank accounts and mobile wallet platforms. Thanks to tie-ups with banking giants such as Axis and ICICI and mobile wallet companies like MobiKwik and PayTM, the company rewards those who use these platforms to make their payments. With an extremely simple interface on both their desktop and mobile versions, CheapTicket makes it extremely easy for users to book tickets in just a few clicks.
The company also boasts of a 24/7 helpline that users can get in touch with at any point during the day or night. While CheapTicket offers a lot of advantages, you have to keep in mind that the website only deals with plane tickets and nothing else. If you have to look for trains, buses, cabs or hotels, the previous companies that have been mentioned here are better.
If you need a specialist in getting you in touch with a wide range of hotels and hostels around the world, you can count on Agoda. The company came into existence in 2003 and ever since then, it has been a favourite for people who are international travellers, as it offers some great discounts at top hotels and hostels no matter what the destination. Featuring more than 2,000,000 listings on their website, Agoda has a comprehensive list of properties globally.
In India, Agoda has very recently launched a flight booking system as well, where it not just lists available flights, but prioritizes those that offer the best rates. The best thing about Agoda is that it offers new deals and discounts almost every day. There are numerous non-hotel and non-hostel properties listed on the website too, which the company lists under the title ‘AgodaHomes’. These properties are extremely popular within today’s youth, as there are many who prefer staying in places that don’t feel like conventional hotels and hostels.
Agoda has a fully-functional mobile application as well, which they started in 2011, making the website accessible through internet-enabled mobile devices as well. Agoda has received rave reviews for its services around the globe. Initially, the company started out by targeting Asian audiences. However, upon expansion, it became a well-known name in the online travel and tourism industry around the globe.
Some of the company’s accolades and achievements include being voted by travel guide book Frommer’s as the #2 booking platform in the world. AsiaOne’s People’s Choice Awards also recognized Agoda as the world’s best online travel service back in 2016.
Booking is probably the longest-standing travel booking service in the world, with the company having started in 1996. It is a global platform where users can choose from a comprehensive list of flights, hotels, Volvo cars, taxis and tour activities.
The site has 43 languages in which users can view it, and it also holds the record for everyday reservations, with the current record being over 1,550,000 reservations being made on the website on an everyday basis. Featuring over 28,000,000 listings across 228 countries and 148,470 destinations, Booking truly is a delight for those that want variety.
There are many reasons for Booking’s popularity in today’s world. First of all, the website gives its users the ‘free cancellation’ benefits, where you can cancel reservations even at the last minute without incurring any penalties.
Through its brilliantly designed mobile application, you can view all the options that you can view in the desktop website, making it one of the most comprehensive online travel booking applications. Booking also does not have any hidden fees.
Even if there are circumstances where you have to pay a surcharge, the website states it clearly. Like most other modern online travel booking websites, Booking too rewards loyal customers with amazing deals and discounts.
The most unique feature that Booking offers its users is probably the ‘Price Match’ guarantee. Under this guarantee, the website claims to match prices in case you find cheaper prices elsewhere for the same booking. Of course, users need to produce valid proof, but if they do, Booking obliges by matching the cheaper rate.
Ola is a transportation company that was born and bred in India. Founded in 2010, the company has its headquarters in Bengaluru. Initially started as just a taxi hire company, it has evolved into a company that boasts of a fantastic fleet of vehicles, offering a wide range of services. One of Ola’s most recent additions in terms of services is the outstation service, which allows users to book a car to travel to another state within the same country.
While Ola was not the first company to offer outstation cab services, it has definitely revolutionized the concept. Ola offers outstation cab services at extremely competitive rates. What is unique about Ola outstation is the fact that bookings can be done at the very last minute as well. It is perfect for people who suddenly plan a weekend getaway. As soon as the decision is made, you can immediately book an outstation ride and have a wonderful vacation. You can book both one-way and round-trip cabs through the Ola outstation service.
In terms of the cabs available for the outstation services, Ola boasts of all options. If you are looking for a car on a budget, you can book a Mini. However, if the group is big, then you can go for a bigger car such as a Lux or an SUV. The per km rate for the Mini is Rs. 9 while the per km rate for the bigger cars is Rs. 14. If you book the car on a 24-hour basis, Ola will charge you the rate for 250 km over a 24-hour period. You can make the payments through Ola’s very own Ola Money mobile wallet. Using Ola Money for payments is also sure to fetch you attractive offers going into the future.
Uber, founded in 2009, was the first company to offer ridesharing facilities in the world. Today, it is a global brand and it has made quite an impression in India as well. Uber has maintained a steady presence in the Indian transportation market and has kept on adding new features. Just like Ola’s outstation cab facility, Uber too has its very own variant, which goes by the name of Uber InterCity.
Uber InterCity functions exactly like Ola Outstation. Simply decide on your destination and find a suitable car for your journey. As soon as you fill up all the details and confirm the payment, the company shares the driver details, allowing you to go for a weekend trip in just a few easy steps.
Like Ola Outstation, Uber InterCity requires travellers to pay not just for the journey, but also for all the tolls and parking charges. However, payments on Uber InterCity can be made only through cash, as payments through mobile wallets and cards is not accepted. You can even find numerous popular InterCity routes on Uber’s official website, along with fares for some popular itineraries.
With so many quality travel companies offering their services in India online, never before has travelling within and outside the country been so easy. The future remains bright for the online travel booking industry as more and more services are beginning to pop up, offering unique services to users and giving them more options to make their travel comfortable, convenient and reasonable. As online platforms evolve on both desktop computers and mobile devices, you can be sure of the aforementioned services to further step up and provide unique travel solutions for all their loyal customers.
In today’s times, reserving plane, train, bus and cab tickets is a piece of cake thanks to these websites and their endeavours. Through such websites, even finding quality hotel rooms is no more a hassle. You can weigh your options and choose a hotel room that suits your budget and requirements, at virtually any destination in the world. The great amount of deals and discounts offered by such websites also makes travelling a very reasonable affair.
So, leave your old ticket booking methods aside, and embrace the new! Give these websites a shot and we guarantee that you will never be disappointed with the results. Happy travels to you, your family and your friends!