The Indian travel web sites that we considered were Makemytrip, Yatra, Cleartrip, Ezeego1 and Travelocity, among others.
Yatra looks like a comprehensive travel web site, but is a little misleading in that respect. A fair few links from the main site direct you to a sister travel forum web site, called Raahi.com. These are littered all around the site, and even a main tab “City Guides” on the site interface redirects to Raahi. Yatra.com, however, has a number of promotional aspects which make it very appealing. Yatra’s “fair price” promotion promises to match the lowest price that you get on any international flight, if you find one outside the web site. Yatra also claims to have the lowest hotel pricings around, and will pay users double the difference if they find cheaper rates. Registered users can collect “Yatra miles” that gives them further discounts and access to special offers from time to time. Another interesting feature of Yatra is videos of some hotels, so you can have a look around before you book. There is a range of different holiday options available, and these can be searched, based on the “theme” of the kind of vacation you want; this is a handy and innovative approach.
Cleartrip.com has a clean interface without any ads. Meant primarily for booking flights, it has a well laid out flight calendar for any date, which can be sorted by the airlines available. Cleartrip lets you jump right in, and you can evaluate prices for return and one way journeys for a number of airports in India and abroad. The return flight booking procedure for Indian cities is very easy, and requires a minimum number of clicks before all the flight options, along with the lowest price the site offers, are presented in front of you in a tabular form. There is also a neat graph feature that plots flight pricing by different airlines over any date range that you specify.
Unfortunately, because of the minimal interface, many things the web site has to offer are rather hidden. The big tables used for most of the flight schedules look horrible on a netbook. There is a “Small world” section that details travel destinations. However, the site has special offers for flights only, and does not chalk up as an all-round travel booking web site.
Ezeego1, at first glance, appears to be the most comprehensive travel web site around. Foreign exchange options, travel insurance, and cruises are prominently displayed on the front page; these options are also available on the other sites. In addition, there are interesting rail and holiday discounts available for locations within India, and “knockout offers” for holidays abroad. Also, the entire web site is available in Hindi. Signing up is necessary before any bookings can be made, though. The search options in the site are not very flexible, and although you can, say, search for cars on rent in Kodaikanal on particular days, this is very much a hit and miss affair, as you have to select the type of car before searching. This means that most searches that you make will give you no results whatsoever. This is rather silly.
Travelocity is the Indian version of an international site, and also has a clean and clear interface. There usually is just one distinct offer available on the front page, but this is a very attractive one (Flat Rs. 1,000 on return ticket for two on any airline, for example). Travelocity’s claim to fame is the lowest prices for over 450 airlines. This web site is also geared towards air travel, but packages, car bookings, hotels and cruises are also available. There is a short break section, which is for weekend getaways, but is focused on just six major cities. These are not local destinations however, and display pricings for places such as Phuket and Bangkok, along with Goa and Jaipur. Rail bookings are not available, but Travelocity has a same day cancellation policy, along with a promise of processing all refunds within five days.
Makemytrip.com has many options and interesting features on offer. The site caters to both individual travelers going to a particular destination, as well as those out for a holiday or adventure trip. There is an interesting video section, and listings of fairs and festivals in India. Makemytrip offers live chat during business hours, and the search for international holidays is very fast, and can be refined according to price and duration. There are 12 holiday “themes” available, which include “wildlife” and “spa” among other themes, – this is a great way to plan a holiday. When packages are searched for, the list of options available includes a comprehensive set of details, including whether or not the package is escorted, and the kind of accommodation and travel options included.
Users can submit travel stories and travel videos, and the web site has an active community of travelers. Customizing and planning tours is easy, and is encouraged by the design of the site. The flight tables look as good on netbooks as on desktops, and the site is also available on mobile platforms. Makemytrip is comprehensive in the options it has to offer, usabilility, and works well for those who know exactly what they want. Makemytrip is clearly miles ahead.