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Travellers prefer SmartBuses with on-board washroom

(Photo: Pexel)

Pent-up travel demand and the onset of the summer season, have led to an increased number of bookings.

By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe

May 02, 2022 (IANSlifeIntrCity, a mobility platform, revealed the findings of a travel survey to better understand Indian travellers' behaviour and preferences while travelling inter-city. Results illustrate that with long due vacations, visiting family on weekends and work trips, Indians are enthusiastic to travel and yet cautious about hygiene and sanitisation. The importance of hygiene and safety among travellers has skyrocketed. 65 percent of travellers prioritise travelling with an on-board washroom facility, while 60 travellers prefer GPS tracking enabled buses.

Kapil Raizada, Co-Founder & CEO, IntrCity, speaks with IANSlife about the discovery that Indian travellers prefer SmartBuses and are willing to pay more for the extra amenities. When it comes to modes of transportation, female travellers prefer safety, whereas men prefer punctuality.

What is the objective behind the survey? Can you elaborate on how the survey was conducted and who was it targeted?

Kapil Raizada: IntrCity, India’s leading inter-city mobility platform, today revealed the findings of a survey to better understand Indian travellers' preferences while travelling inter-city. The objective behind the survey is to understand the current traveller’s priorities as India moves to restriction-free travel and how has it changed after our last survey done during 1st phase of COVID.  The brand conducts consumer surveys regularly to understand the needs of its travellers.

Survey Methodology: We performed a nationwide online survey of 3,100 persons aged 18 to 60 years old who travel between India's metros, tier-1, and tier-2 cities. The survey was conducted between March 15 and April 10, 2022. The data insights team analysed and validated the survey's results.

Among all respondents, 31 percent are travelling for work, 32 percent to meet the family on weekends, while 8 percent are students travelling from or to schools/colleges.

 

Based on survey findings, state the major outcomes of the survey?

Kapil Raizada: The Survey results illustrate that with long-due vacations, visiting family on weekends and work trips, Indians are enthusiastic to travel and yet cautious about hygiene & sanitisation.

  • Post the pandemic, hygiene has emerged as the top priority for inter-city travel -followed by safety, and on-time service in that order, much similar to last year’s survey. Among the factors that influence the choice of mode of travel, hygiene and safety take the top 2 spots, followed by pricing and punctuality as the joint third important factor.
  • Nearly 2/3rd of all respondents have stated a clear preference for a SmartBus over a regular bus, given the various benefits it offers. More encouragingly, even more respondents (75 percent ) are willing to pay more for these benefits, compared to a regular bus.
  • One-fifth of all inter-city travel is for vacation and leisure purposes, which is in stark contrast to IntrCity’s last year's survey which indicated a drop in planned holidays by more than 70 percent of respondents. This highlights the resurgence of travel in the country, especially at the outset of the pandemic.
  • GPS based tracking is a high priority feature for 60 percent of the travellers and the onboard washroom facility gets a thumbs-up from over 65 percent of all respondents across genders and age groups.

 

How will the survey help IntrCity to attend to their customers, and specify reasons for travellers preferring SmartBus over a regular bus?

Kapil Raizada: Our last survey conducted during the 1st phase of the COVID pandemic helped us get deep insights and led to a few industry-leading initiatives like Private Cabins inside the bus and the Safe+ program of 5-step cleaning and sanitisation. Our existing ecosystem of Lounges and Boarding points was enhanced with a social distancing policy to ensure a safe environment for travellers to board the SmartBus.

The current survey establishes our belief in the initiatives around Hygiene, Sanitisation and Onboard washrooms and we will continue to invest in these aspects of physical and digital properties. The survey also highlights that female travellers have different priorities as compared to male travellers and hence we should change the user interface of our app to show features based on the gender of the traveller. These insights are being understood in further detail by our product team and will help us launch a few new features aimed at travellers' convenience.

The survey establishes that Indian travellers prefer SmartBus and are willing to pay more for the additional amenities. If we set aside aspects around features which they prefer, a broader insight which comes out is that inter-city travellers have smarter and superior expectations from inter-city buses now. These expectations are similar to what happened when Smartphones were launched or local taxis ended up becoming a technology-enabled mode of travel. This changed expectation is leading to a significant shift in the mode of travel preference where buses are now considered comparable to trains once they travel with SmartBus.

Some of the reasons why SmartBus is preferred are because they offer services like real-time GPS tracking, safe boarding, and hygienic private cabins besides onboard washrooms. SmartBus boasts of more than 97% on-time arrival and this IntrCity survey has also indicated that punctuality is still a key expectation amongst travellers. We were pioneers of the concept of SmartBus Captain inside our buses which is appreciated by our travellers.

 

In the new normal, what are the priorities on the IntrCity travellers’ list?

Kapil Raizada: While all travellers surveyed during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic stated that hygiene &  sanitization, and social distancing are the most critical factors, our new survey reveals a somewhat different choice. As a result of improved vaccination and a decrease in COVID cases, this is the first summer without any government-imposed restrictions. According to a recent survey, while hygiene and safety remain the most crucial factors for travellers, punctuality has again gained importance. Besides, our survey stated that females prioritize their safety while travelling, and males prefer punctuality when choosing the mode of travel.

 

What are the facilities and amenities that were mostly preferred while travelling on a bus?

Kapil Raizada: The survey highlights twi things clearly: a) inter-city buses have become a comparable choice to trains, and b) this is happening due to the superior experience provided by SmartBus. Travellers clearly prefer buses that are safe, hygienic, and punctual. The two most desired features are undoubtedly GPS-based tracking and onboard washrooms. Over 65 percent of respondents across genders and age groups give onboard washroom facilities a thumbs up while undertaking an inter-city bus journey.

Since SmartBus includes all that has been mentioned above as a traveller’s preference, nearly two-thirds of all respondents declared a clear preference for a Smart Bus over a standard bus. Even more encouraging, as compared to a standard bus, a majority of respondents (75 percent ) are willing to pay more for a SmartBus.

 

According to you, has the travel sector been experiencing a surge over the last few months?

Kapil Raizada: As the covid-19 pandemic begins to wane away, pent-up travel demand and the onset of the summer season, have led to an increased number of bookings. We have seen increased booking volumes and our buses are going with 90-96 percent filled capacity daily. The pattern is the same across functional routes as well as leisure destinations. Let us also keep in mind that this growth is still over a lower base of travel, so there is still a lot of growth headroom as travel returns to normalcy.

The further opening of colleges, universities & offices moving out of the Work from Home model, will lead to increased travel over next few months.

 

 

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N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe can be contacted at lothungbeni.h@ians.in

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