Days of our Lives!

October 19, 2007

Kuppanna Goundar Ponmalai Goundar Natarajan, take a bow!

Filed under: Travels — Santhosh @ 1:53 PM

I’ve been watching with fascination at the business model that KPN Travels follows and uses to remain the de facto leader. The KPN fleet of buses are by no means the most comfortable (I personally feel KSRTC is way better), their drivers are never polite, they take more time than others to reach the destination, and their website sucks. Inspite of all these, they’re the ones we think first of whenever we want to travel. This is because they’ve succeeded in creating that dream of any business – a brand name. And one word that keeps jumping out at me when I think of what they’ve done is “common sense”.

Opening more booking offices is a simple but highly effective idea. A small room located at a prime spot in each locality accomplishes the most basic principle of any business – making available your product to the end customer faster and easier. In the metropolitan setup that we live in, it takes away a whole lot of concern when one knows he can book tickets on his way to or from office/market and not need to spend any extra time commuting just to book a ticket.

At a time when most operators were content with filling their buses for the regular timings, KPN has come out and started a mid-day service to quite a few places. As opposed to these not being filled to capacity, this has created a whole new option for people travelling (especially for businessmen). I once travelled on a Wednesday afternoon from Madurai to Bangalore and the bus was full.

If you go to Koyambedu on any given night, you’ll find brokers hawking tickets to any place and of any travels – except KPN. Because they’ve realised that an extra office in a locality gives better returns than the security of seats being paid when they go for brokers. And it’s never a good publicity stunt to resort to rough looking hawkers when you’re advertising about comfort, luxury and safety.

Sharma Travels was the first to introduce a Full Sleeper service – the Bangalore-Chennai route. KPN has not shied away from being called copycats and has quickly jumped in. In fact they’ve gone a step further and confidently introduced full sleepers in quite a few routes now which are all resounding successes, while Sharma has stuck to just that one.

Initiatives like trips to Sabarimala during the season provide two prime returns to the company – solid profits on account of there being enough people from the new Indian economy wanting to make the trip in some comfort, and a feel good name about the company among the people.

Like I’ve said, their website sucks, but the online booking section of the site works like a dream. Still one of the very few Travels to offer online booking, they’ve hit a gold mine. The burgeoning broadband industry which is placing every household on the internet highway, coupled with the ease of confirming tickets and choosing seats from the comfort of your desk is tailor made for the now of the country. And if you notice, the non-AC buses of any routes won’t feature in the online booking section, which once again is great business sense.

All this of course, in no way takes away anything from them. They really are safe and their accident record is truly exemplary, while their service is very good if not the best. The next few years should be interesting, especially if a worthy competitor comes into the picture.

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6 Comments »

  1. What you say is quite true.Over the years KPN travels never introduced any new features but did some copying stuff, even then they remain at the top because of their reliability.Too bad they stopped providing mineral water in A/C buses. I am still wondering what they achieved by opening the online advanced reservation for diwali 29 days before rather than 30 days 😦

    Comment by Praveen Krishnamoorthy — October 19, 2007 @ 2:35 PM | Reply

  2. they are one of the costliest people compared to other carriers in TN…..and i suppose they were one of the first few people in introducing the air – buses in TN route

    Comment by Karthik ,K.N — October 19, 2007 @ 8:06 PM | Reply

  3. well my days in the saapt vaer city were intially KPN dependent as well… eventually the fear of arthiritis at the ripe age of 22 made me rethink my travel decisions- Raj travels and ABT travels in my opinion are more spacious, thanks to the absolute lack of ANY marketing (RAJ’s office resembles the villain’s dungeon in CID Jaishakar movies) the buses are never filled to capacity, and consequently the crew is real nice… the travel time is minimal and they actually stop ANYWHERE u want… which isnt big deal, considering u are amongst possible two others, who r busy sleeping….

    Comment by Mark IV — October 22, 2007 @ 12:21 PM | Reply

  4. @praveenHeard it was because they had some trouble with their servers on account of the expected load…Anyways, I don’t have tickets now @knkTrue.@markivEven they’ve run out of tickets for this diwali, and what’s more, both the guys you mentioned have online ticketing.

    Comment by santhosh — October 24, 2007 @ 2:00 AM | Reply

  5. IndiaTransit.com provides tons of information and is becoming a biggest competitor to KPN, as lots of traffic is now diverted to KSRTC and other better providers then KPN. Lots of customers comes back with complaints from KPN, but you are right they tend to go back to ease of tickets compared to KSRTC. I think in few more months KSRTC will be on top of KPN. Let’s see.

    Comment by Anonymous — November 11, 2007 @ 6:04 AM | Reply

  6. @anonYeah, like I’ve also said, KSRTC is fast catching up (their service and comfort are already way better than KPN)… Maybe in the next few months…

    Comment by santhosh — November 16, 2007 @ 12:38 AM | Reply


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