BookMyShow on Wednesday announced that after a few months in beta, it had successfully rolled out its new in-app messaging feature ‘Plan-it’ to all its users on Android as well as on iOS. YourStory spoke to Ravdeep Chawla, Rahul Bhanushali, and Nirali Shah from BookMyShow's product team to get an overview of Plan-it and what the company aims to achieve with it. Here is an overview.
Plan-it is embedded as a tab in BookMyShow's app and allows friends and families to interact with each other in real time and suggest movies, showtimes, venue options, and eventually complete the ticket booking without having to toggle between BookMyShow and other instant messaging apps or phone calls to arrive at a decision.
The BookMyShow team, though, noted that they aren't looking to compete with instant messaging players like WhatsApp, but instead give their users a more hassle-free way to plan their movie experience. With this, BookMyShow claims to have blended social conversations into its app functionality while building on conversational commerce as the backbone.
Plan-it automatically allows users to add friends from their phone books and start chatting. Users can either initiate private one-on-one conversations or create groups (up to 20 people) to start discussions on movies.
Similar to other popular instant messaging apps, Plan-it claims to support encrypted conversations, multiple conversation threads at a time, let users receive notifications, see when their friends are typing a message or are online, and know when a message has been read.
Ravdeep, Head of Product, BookMyShow, noted that movie watching in India is more of a social affair or experience. He noted,
With this in mind, we integrated Plan-it within the BookMyShow app to address a critical pain point of our user—the hassle to switch between multiple modes of communication while arriving at a movie-going decision. Plan-it also underlines a strong mobile-centric approach. A feature such as this made absolute sense to us since over 75 percent transactions on BookMyShow happen over mobile.
Ravdeep said Plan-it had been conceived, designed, and built by the in-house technology team at BookMyShow. On being asked, Ravdeep noted that this feature came about as a result of requests from users rather than their own internal data. He said,
We are confident that Plan-it will result in increased user engagement on our platform while improving and enhancing the overall experience on BookMyShow.
Flipkart too had ventured into the collaborative shopping space with 'Ping'. In August 2015, Flipkart wanted users to leverage Ping to chat with friends while shopping, and share experience using text, photos, and emoticons in real time. Ten months after the launch, Flipkart shut down Ping to instead focus on ‘user to seller’ chat instead. Founded by Ex-Yahoo! veterans, ShopInSync is another player that aims to make online shopping more collaborative.
Talking about this, the BookMyShow team said that people generally don't ask around too much when it comes to buying clothes or other products. But the conversations around movie booking, which is more of a group activity, is much higher.
According to the BookMyShow team, Plan-it has already facilitated over 1,30,000 movie plans and has more than 70,000 active users per day at this stage. This feature is currently available only for movie bookings but based on the traction, BookMyShow may roll it out for other events and experiences on their platform.
You can watch Ashish Hemrajani's session from TechSparks 2016 here-