Archive for March, 2007

Agencyfaqs.com, exchange4media.com – Time to Re-invent?

When i sat down to do a post it was to be agencyfaqs.com vs exchange4media.com which is a better service portal for media professionals in India.  If you take notice regular blogs which people follow like contentsutra.com or alootechie.com generally refer to these 2 sources on recent news announcements.

Business model wise both these sites sit on the same plane with basics principle of “content being the king” . But with changing landscape of digital media world and internet playing an important communication and management tool for media companies and individuals alike the need of the hour is for re-invention of the business model to make it more commercially viable rather than just being dependent on advertisement for newsletters etc. Few of the areas both the portals can grow

freelancer Marketplace – In India till date for free lancers their is no common marketplace available where media professionals talent could be attracted and common billing platform be provided. So that based on strict guidelines and process managed via software freelancers and agencies can interact with each other. With freelancers counting for a large contingent working in print & media industry it makes more sense for these portals to move forward from the job boards and integrate a full blown marketplace.

With so much news on agencies coming in its about time these portals try to organize information in terms of profiling of agencies including structuring of all news information on key people in agencies, campaign they run client maintained. As such information is useful for corporates researching which media company they would like to select. This can be based on subscription model for corporates. Currently agencyfaqs does sort the information based on product and agency wise. But still lack of ONE VIEW take the sheen out of such valuable content they have to offer.

I like the agencyfaqs.com message board and advertisement/campaign ranking system especially Cirus used to be really good. But exchange4media scores on account of analysis figures needed on numbers from the industry.

Site design wise Agencyfaqs.com scores way above exchange4media.com . But both the site need serious design restructuring . They need to give it a portal outlook for making it look more easy to use software as advertisement on pages it really making it difficult to find information in right corners.

Is India Ready for E-Banks

In an recent interview our finance minister talked about india’s plan to open up Indian Banking sector for foreign banks and reforming the sector to take advantage of international practices. Though this may sound good news for the Barclays, Citibank’s etc. Its also good news for indians who have higher rate of bank account usage against their other third world counterparts.

With  Virtual banks becoming established brand names in the west example ING this brings us to a new chapter of opportunities which may open up in financial sector. Though before we discuss the opportunity lets look at the market available. With increasing penetration of internet connectivity at work place we do see a increase in usage of net banking atleast to query account transaction details or to save cost associated in getting paper statements. With more options available people are now understanding difference between banks and charges imposed. Underlying statement is if bank has fully computerized its operations then most of the charges to be levied can be done away with.

Lets take an example what kind of product an Virtual Bank would offer and how optimal they can operate to reduce cost and offer quality service to customer.  One Bank per city. Account sign up via website to reduce paper application processing cost.  Zero minimum account keeping fees and higher interest earning savings account. Money deposit facility via inter bank net banking facility only. Tie up with other banks for letting own customers access their accounts via ATM.

All operations supported by 100% contact center operations. Keeping in mind current RBI regulations a cooperative bank can also enhance its operations and deposit base with such initiative.

Target Base : Existing account holders which need a saving account which does offer higher interest rate but charges high transaction fees for accessing the money which acts as a detterant. Second availability of money via any banks ATM will be added advantage as it increases reach .All account view is available via internet,phone banking and ATM.

As indian market has become mature enough to take full advantage of NET BANKING. Such products even if introduced b by existing banks would find takers with right branding and targeting.

Travelocity.com India launch – First hand review

As business standard covered the news on launch of travelocity.com in india. It bring to me no surprise that travelocity has planned to follow a different strategy than its fellow competition yatra.com, cleartrip.com etc.

Travelocity.com is only offering hotel and other side trip reservations in India. They have opened the system with budget hotels available in smaller cities but it doesnt look like they will be a big hit in indian market they will be powering inventory other way around to global network bringing in more hotels other than one aggregated by GDS like amadeus,abacus or galileo.

Though travelocity’s entry is being welcomed by travel agents more than the customers as hotel inventory which was hidden behind the mystical world of GDS will really open up and travel agents will get access to small budget hotels in international locations. Currently none of the major travel portals in india offer international hotel reservation which is also looked upon as a constraint keeping in mind the big spenders who are really using internet to plan their holidays abroad are not able to get right price pictures from the travel 2.0 INDIA.

Commercially speaking the travel portals might be doing 500 crores of business but with 80% of business being dependent on air the operating margin tilt is surely not in their favor at the moment. The numbers quoted by business standard article linked also gives the total travel e-commerce volume which in india mainly means online Online Flight reservations.

If you look from travelocity’s perspective commercially its not a wrong bet as end of the day inventory consolidated can always be marketed on their international network if INDIA game doesnt really work out.

Where are the Cricket World cup 2007 innovative web 2.0 applications ?

While doing a search on i believe thousands of site which should have come up by now keeping in mind world cup stands officially open. The web has not reacted as it did during 1999 or 2003 world cup. We dont hear much about web based cricket competition or cricket leagues being followed online though we are living in era of social networking and these are the additions these communities can really use to keep the user interested in interactions. My first stop was sixer.tv which was launched in 2006 to see if they are offering anything new to their cricket crazy fans. Unfortunately their was not much activity from their end.

Went through couple of other sites trying to use social interactions around cricket as the center of attraction but nothing really sounded will click. Some remarkable mentions could be cricketology.com and mainbhibookie.com . Cricketology uses social networking at its core and can be a glorified message board system done using web 2.0. But mainbhibookie approachs the problem from the real indian mindset bring in interaction with sense of competition. Though they dont have option for you to build your own team and compete like ESPN star sports fantasy sports league but they do allow your local rival community competition on man of the match or best 3 performing batsmen and bowler comparision from match to match to continue.

Again these sites dont carry lot in front of revenue model but advertising should be expected mode. Important thing these sites should do keep in mind in how to constantly generate content and become an alternative to cricinfo.com or cricketnext.com .

Update 13/03/2007 : Cricketology update the site a web 2.0 product focuses an attracting users by giving points to play betting fantasy league game but to earn these points user need to buy products from their e-commerce store. Though the business model sounds very innovative but keeping in mind people apprehension in regard to shopping online and how much the rest of the process is dependent on people buying something to earn points to use other features effectively it defeats the whole purpose. Cricketology will be better of going the offline tieup and coupons way like by attaching googleads model for attracting users to click google ads via cricketology and earn points. Something like mybonuspoints which gives you points to shop at vendors or just read spam email. The registration email which came in from cricketology doesnt advice me on any free points but as the comments say you get free points. So here it goes hope you guys have fun with cricketology though it may not be my fav app of the year yet.. Best of luck pavan

Mindtree Consulting Opens at more than 45% premium on listing

Mindtree consulting the IPO i was really looking forward to did get the right listing with more than 45% premium in a bad market day. Though i didnt get alloted any shares in the IPO i m yet to take a position on the stock post listing.

My comparision meter will be Wipro which is the closest in terms of strategic positioning of the company. Tech mahindra, Infosys and TCS are on different playing field. So keeping in mind current wipro market cap and revenues comparing it with Mindtree you may say the share may touch maximum upto 750-800 price wagon keeping this in factor if market continues to rally positively in favor of IT Stocks like its doing right now. Otherwise if you got the shares via the IPO its still keep if we you  would like to maintain long term position in market.

The Big Indian Aviation market Fraud

As we also run an offline travel desk we often get queries from people on reservation of cheap air deccan 1Re ticket or similar schemes launched by various airlines. Though most of the time reason for people to ward off is the taxes charged by the government. This post is not about the tax charged by the government but how many times taxes collected from passengers are not reaching the government.

We have seen so many times people who have booked these low fare air tickets are unable to draw refund for the taxes paid on these cheap tickets.  The catch here is at time of buying e-ticket airline clarify in case you will not use the ticket nothing will be refunded. Fair enough dont refund money collected under your own head but would like to know what is the procedure to get tax back on congestion fuel etc which was not used especially in the case where passenger did cancel his/her air tickets lets say 72 hours before the flight. As far as my sources claim the tax never reach government coffers.  Which legally speaking means misrepresentation as no one gives right to anyone to collect money on behalf of government and evade the tax on their own terms.

If i am wrong about the system would like to hear aviation domain experts take on it.

Air Deccan airlines is one of them where i have faced this problem lot of times.

Survival of travel portals without GDS

With more and more new travel portals coming online the first point of differentiation being looked at is the customer base they are trying to reach out to. Most of them are using same GDS technology at backend to pull fares for customers or are trying to rope in same hotels offerings. As a user then relying on a travel portal becomes specific on the user interface design they offer.

Hence the need for travel portals to evolve further by making investment in new technology initiatives other than one which allow them to be a better GDS deal aggregators or generating algorithm for fare construction.

If we look at Indian market portals can actually survive without the GDS as major chunk of online sales are coming thanks to ever growing number of low cost airlines + big daddy of all airlines “INDIAN” airlines. All of these airlines are ready to provide white label access directly to their reservation engines hence bypassing the GDS completed and giving the same real time online reservation capabilities.  Earlier when yatra.com was taking booking for Air deccan when they started it took them time to issue E-ticket after accepting payment online due to the same factor that air deccan online reservation engine was not e-integrated with their own engine. Though they could get the flight details and fare but to confirm seat it was a different process. Second reasons why travel portals can survive without GDS as biggest mode of transportation which would soon open up their reservation engine for travel portal is railway which will again increase the revenue volumes for such portals.

According to Sid things travel portal should do to maintain their ‘A’ Game strategy

–  create market specific travel platform driven by technology as they can grow if they also create market hence deriving value on fare construction to deal aggregation of Tier-II cities.

– Try to bring hotels online throw hotels free hotel reservation system with requirement to connect to internet for 2 hours every day to maintain current hotel availability status.

– Bring in room rate exchange system like airlines whereas room rates can go up and down based on availability. This would also help people plan holidays in advance.

Overall travel portals need to  get innovative in terms of business model on offer, they need to take advantage of bus,car and train ticket reservation before hotel content becomes more instant available like in western countries.


Contact Details

E-mail:siddharthpuri@gmail.com Call Me :+91-9910444460
March 2007
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