In a first, online travel company Cleartrip has introduced a feature that enables travellers to reschedule flights on their own. Currently, for any change in the itinerary, customers have to contact call centres.
About 30 per cent of the calls (200-300 calls a day) to Cleartrip call centres relate to rescheduling a journey.
Cleartrip, which developed the feature through the past four months, says it did this entirely on the basis of customer feedback.
"We noticed each call took a lot of time. There were many instances in which by the time all options were presented to a traveller, he/she would just cancel the whole booking and decide to do it afresh, on his/her own. It was a lot of hassle," said Hrush Bhatt, co-founder and director (product and strategy), Cleartrip.
Currently, the company is offering the facility only on domestic flights.
To use the feature, a customer has to have an online account with Cleartrip. If one reschedules a flight online, he doesn't have to pay the amendment fee of Rs 300 to the company.
Would others follow suit? "It is a complicated process and people are more comfortable doing it over the phone. Several tickets are not refundable, while some are. It is easy to call up an agent and get it done," said Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com.
Cleartrip doesn't think so. "It will induce huge cost savings. Call centres would be able to cater to other callers. Our focus is first on the customer, then on everyone else," Bhatt said. The company feels the facility would ease things for consumers, who can easily select the new itinerary based on the price differential, for any date. They would only have to pay an amendment fee of Rs 1,000 to the airline.
Currently, though flight bookings can be changed on an airline's website, users aren't able to switch airlines. "Here, we are giving you all airline options, so that you are not stuck with one," Bhatt said.