Rahul Maroli, vice-president – rental and corporate distribution, said that the company is trying innovative services
In the last couple of years, cab aggregator Ola has in addition to spontaneous cab booking launched multiple services such rental — that lets a user hire cabs — and corporate, which helps employees plan their travel.
While these services account for relatively small proportion of the company’s overall business, the growth seems to be promising. In an exclusive interaction with Moneycontrol’s Priyanka Sahay, Rahul Maroli, vice-president – rental and corporate distribution, Ola, talks about how the company is trying to create a difference in the way these businesses have been run conventionally.
It has been around two years of Ola Corporate. How has the journey been and how have you been differentiating yourself from the legacy service providers?
Corporate business traditionally has been a very manual driven process. It has been characterised by admin desk. If you were going on a business meeting somewhere, you would have to take a 4 hour 40 km or an 8 hour 80 km package. There would be somebody standing outside the airport with a placard, there would be a bottle of water and a newspaper. These were the traditional things that got characterised in a B2B business. Most of these things were not necessary which over a period of time became luxury. Placard was a euphemism for not having a mobile connection. So it was the only means of recognising a driver.
Over a period of time these things moved away from being a necessity ended up becoming value added services. So the positioning of most of the rental service providers in this country was that we will give you this this and this what we realised that there is a complete tectonic shift the way corporates were. There was a new bread of customers coming out. That’s when we decided if we could launch Ola Corporate. We have built a huge retail infrastructure. It is possible that corporates could also start taking advantage of the retail infrastructure and look at taking rides on Ola platform.
Ola Corporate, in reality, is not a mobility management tool, it is an overall tool wherein you could link it back into the ERP, you could administer the entire mobility policy right from an extent that you can decide what categories or budget can be allocated to which person.
It tells users their eligibility per month. How many rides they have taken, etc. This entire expense code can be linked back to the company’s ERP system and then you just take a ride.
What percentage of Ola’s overall business comes from corporate now?
I won’t be able to give you the exact percentage but currently we have about 3,500 B2B customers. The business has grown to about five times over the past 12 months (in terms of number of rides). We believe that we have about 20 percent of the entire corporate rental market, in the Tier-1 cities.
Is the ticket size in B2B higher than the general rides?
It is significantly higher, almost twice the size of a usual ride. Most people use it for long-distance commutes.
Ola has expanded its services to Australia. Is there any plan to take the corporate business global?
Not at the moment but we will definitely look at that.
What sort of innovations have been done to make it more customer friendly?
A simple innovation would be a thing like we launched a service called guest booking. We would be in a position to book a ride for you even without you being on our platform. I will just put in your email id or some details and you will get a ride allocated. Then a link gets sent to you across your mobile phone and you will be able to track the ride. So even without the app you would still be able to track it. That has been seeing a lot of traction specially with customers like hotels.
The second innovation was of safety, specially with women employees. We did some micro innovations where in the emergency numbers for some of our customers were linked back into their central response team. Lot of companies have their own response teams.
What sort of a growth is expected this financial year?
We should easily be able to grow at least about 3-4 times.
And this will be on the basis of?
Largely on the number of customers. Now what we are also seeing that in terms of lot of our customers, share of wallet is increasing significantly. They wouldn’t have given us a large share but now they are. The scope of work has been increasing. The wallet share has now been increasing.
The larger challenge has been that employees are used to standing out of the airport with a placard as it is a huge ego booster. Then somebody dragging your bag out of the airport is also ego booster. That has to change. At some point in time, it will change. Lot of millennials and younger employees just don’t want that and instead love Ola because of the discreetness it provides.
We are a complete mobility management tool. Another innovation that we have done is called a manager approval. Lot of our customers have got a policy wherein if I take a ride it has to be approved by the manager. Depending on a weekly on a period basis, depends on what you set. The manager gets a note saying that he needs to approve the rides.
It becomes completely seemless from a clients point of view.
Also the earlier norms used to be garage to garage. It means that if you had to be picked up from the airport, the cab left the garage went across to the airport picked you up dropped you and then the car goes back. You got charged right from the point the car left the garage. For an end consumer it turned out to be significantly expensive.
We have reduced that. We are an on demand platform. So depending on the demand we would have our cars at the vicinity.
The cost reduction came from billing transparency it also came in from reducing pilferage both from a supply point of view and also from an employee form of view.
Bulk of the business that we get in Ola corporate today is largely migration from legacy service providers
Are these the same cabs that you use for other services?
What we have now started to look at is that we go a step further in terms of customising. One of the things that we are now trying to do .. we are looking at ride assurance. We are piloting that with a couple of customers where we give you assurance in terms of rides. We assure you that you will get a ride if you have a critical application. Book it in advance and we will assure you that you get a ride.
So we would have dedicated supply sitting in the back-end and depending upon demand that is available, we would dispatch that supply.
Are all of them going to be leased cabs?
It will be a combination of leased and attachment.