Guest Column: New moves in urban mobility

Consolidation, customer demand and technology innovation point to a bright future for ‘Mobility as a Service’ platforms, but connections remain key

Technology is revolutionising the global business travel industry. Through the proliferation of apps and instant booking tools, companies are satisfying customers’ growing demands for a more seamless, end-to-end service. The implementation of machine learning is driving hyper-personalisation and operational excellence on a scale we’ve never seen before.

Historically, ground transportation was often overlooked when drawing up a corporate travel policy and budget. With the arrival of ride-hailing apps, the sector was forced to recognise this form of transportation and its importance within a travel policy to maintain budget control and duty-of-care for travellers. Although awareness of this service has improved, there are still those who do not appreciate the relevance of using a preferred ground transportation provider.

However, the delivery of a premium level of customer excellence in ground transport can’t be achieved in a silo. Relationships have always been key in this sector. A customer’s journey starts from the moment they leave the door until they reach their destination. Suppliers need to work in harmony to ensure the delivery of top-quality customer experience. This is particularly pressing in the financial roadshows and events sector, where demands are high and logistics complex. Cross-industry and technological integration is essential to overcoming challenges.

The vision of ‘a world without traffic jams’ is certainly appealing

In recent years, there has been an increased desire for corporates and TMCs to work closely with ground transportation providers. With successful integration TMCs can offer clients complete end-to-end journey management, from premium bespoke chauffeurs to basic point-to-point transfers. Ultimately, TMCs have to maintain this offering as it is a consumer-led market and it’s the travellers who dictate price and quality fundamentals.

When you remove the TMC and consider supplier-to-supplier relationships, with airlines and hotels offering ground transportation services along with their own, this may be an affiliate marketing scheme where they are receiving high commission rates and push unwanted add-on costs to consumers. However, if the transfer provider is delivering a quality service and is not caught short by high affiliation rates, these partnerships offer the customers the ease of a one-point booking for a door-to-door journey, which is attractive to busy business travellers.

Recent marketplace acquisitions, from Enterprise moving into non-core areas through to its purchase of Deem, to the strategic partnership between Uber and Careem, highlight that businesses are taking consolidation more seriously. In a connected world, the user is key and transport providers need to work closer than ever to ensure the delivery of a true end-to-end service.

Concepts such as MaaS (Mobility as a Service) could become the next frontier in transport technology and build on the new customer journey, particularly within cities. The vision of “a world without traffic jams”, espoused by urban mobility company Moovel, is certainly appealing. However, to achieve this, integration is key. Keeping the customer and their evolving needs front of mind is essential, as too is acknowledging that the “one size fits all” approach may not work for everyone, as there still remains a highly significant demand for a premium service. If MaaS operators keep this in mind, then it has the potential to revolutionise the transport sector even further.

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