The global online bus ticket service market size is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10% during the forecast period, 2019–2026.
Online bus ticketing offers a centralized network to book, view, and cancel the reservation of bus tickets in real-time, offering an augmented solution over conventional travel booking options such as contacting local travel agents or booking tickets over the counter. The rapid penetration of internet users across the globe has resulted in an increase in the adoption rate of technological aspects in the travel industry.
Online ticketing services provide a comprehensive solution for travelers to find, compare, and book tickets online in real-time, along with travel updates and alerts relative to the trip, facilitating an enhanced travel experience to travelers across the globe.
Intercity bus services are long-distance, express, over-the-road, or highway bus or coach services used to travel significant distances with less frequent stops in cities or towns. The rising demand for intercity travel modes drives the demand for online bus ticketing services as online ticketing offers users the convenience of booking/reserving tickets from anywhere at any time. Thus, companies facilitating bus travel services are increasingly focusing on expanding their business to reach a wider customer base. For instance, in October 2019, Railyatri, an Indian travel marketplace, announced plans to expand its ‘IntrCity’ bus service in India and create a multi-modal intercity transportation solution for passengers by increasing its fleet from 65 to 2,000 with an investment of up to USD 100 million over the next two years.
The mobile application segment is expected to hold a strong market share in the global online bus ticket market during the forecast period, of 2019–2026. This can be attributed to travelers across the globe pursuing pleasant and convenient travel experiences with mobile-friendly solutions over conventional ticket booking systems. Thus, several companies involving MakeMyTrip, Wanderu, redBus.in, MegaBus, and others offer mobile-based ticket booking applications on android and iOS devices for greater efficiency of mobility services over the rising percentage of smartphone users. Such factors are attributed to augment the mobile application segment in the online bus ticket market.
The desktop application segment in the global online bus ticketing market is likely to witness a sluggish growth rate on account of the increasing demand for mobile bookings. Online bus ticket booking platforms facilitate an enhanced experience for travelers to book tickets online through android, windows, and iOS platforms. Besides the shift towards mobile applications continues to rise, owing to an opportunity to capitalize on changing consumer habits. Thus, on account of the widespread availability of mobile applications, there is low demand for web-based desktop applications leading to ticket booking services offered by OTAs attaining popularity over mobile bookings.
Figure: Share of Booking by Device, 2017
The tourism segment is projected to witness instrumental growth owing to the increasing demand for travel and tourism services. The tourism industry is flourishing with technological innovation, in addition to improvements in economic conditions. The early adoption of evolving trends plays a vital role by modernizing and capturing the market over new technologies, new destinations, and means of transport, leading to a shift in the industry. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in 2018, the global travel and tourism sector grew 3.9% to contribute a record USD 8.8 trillion and 319 million jobs to the world economy. Additionally, changing demographics and advancements in technology influence the rise of tourism trends such as solo travel, local experience, personalization, IoT, and customer experience, among others. Thus, the availability of cheaper travel solutions offered by bus services stimulates the demand for online bus ticket services in the tourism industry.
The business travel segment is likely to witness significant growth in the global online bus ticket market on account of the rise in the number of business travelers in emerging economies. According to the U.S. Travel Association, direct expenditure on business travel by domestic and international travelers, including expenditures on meetings, events, and incentive programs (ME&I), totaled to USD 327.3 billion in 2018, with meetings and events accounting for 38%.
North America is expected to hold a strong market share in the online bus ticketing market on account of the flourishing travel and tourism industry. Countries such as the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are prominent growth contributors in the region. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. is the greatest attraction for many world travelers, with most overseas visitors arriving from Europe and Asia. Additionally, with growing cross-border traveling by travel enthusiasts, the demand for intercity bus transportation between major towns and cities is rising in the region.
The Europe market is expected to witness a shift towards booking buses online, with only 10% of online bookings represented by the region’s multi-billion bus market, according to BlaBlaCar. With an increase in the number of travelers in the region, the online bus ticket service market is expected to witness significant growth in the European market in the coming years. According to Busfor, an international bus ticketing platform, the bus transportation market in Eastern Europe was valued at approx. USD 9 billion, with online ticket sales accounting for just 2% to 5% in 2018. The company estimates online sales to grow to some 30% by 2022 and aims to control a third of the growth volume.
Asia-Pacific (APAC) is projected to grow at an accelerated pace in the online bus ticket market on account of the rising demand for intercity buses in developing economies such as India and China, among others. India has emerged as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with a burgeoning travel and tourism industry. Travel and tourism contribute to a large proportion of the national income, and buses are a preferred transport mode in the country. Moreover, according to ChinaTravelNews, 19 billion trips were recorded on intercity buses in 2014, compared to 2.4 billion by trains and 390 million by planes. Intercity buses offer a solution to the growing demand for long-distance transportation in China; as a result, internet conglomerates are eyeing the online travel market in the country.
The tourism and travel industry in Latin America (LATAM) is expected to witness slow yet steady expansion owing to inbound and outbound travelers. Thus, to explore possibilities in the under-penetrated market, leading travel e-commerce companies are investing in the e-ticketing bus service market to discover potential opportunities in the online travel market. For instance, in July 2016, redBus acquired Busportal, a Peru-based online bus ticketing platform; with this investment, redBus gained an opportunity to enter the online bus ticketing market in Latin America in countries such as Peru, Colombia, and Chile.
The Middle East is projected to witness a considerable growth rate in the online bus ticket market during the forecast period, 2019–2026. Growing demand for e-tickets with increased flexibility, security, cost, and convenience, coupled with the growing comfort with internet technology, influences various aspects of the travel industry, specifically ticket booking services. The UAE is investing in public transport to make bus travel the first choice for mobility in Dubai. For instance, in June 2019, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) ordered 373 city buses from Volvo Buses and Famco Al Futtaim Auto & Machinery Co (Famco) to increase the number of buses in the Emirates by 30% from 2018 to 2020.
Africa is likely to witness sustainable growth in the online bus ticket market, with the rapid adoption of technological advancements across borders offering a paradigm shift for online bus ticketing platforms in the region. For instance, in July 2019, TracoinTravels launched the first-ever decentralized online marketplace for bus ticket booking in Nigeria; the company focuses on collaborating with several top bus operators across Nigeria to offer its customers a unique and wide range of bus services.
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