I was in my office on March 6, 2018, planning my trip to Bangalore for a business meeting. I had to prepare for this meeting for a few weeks as it involved several Tata delegates visit the SAP centre in Whitefield. The meeting was scheduled for 9 am on March 8. Being the organizer, I didn’t want to take any chance and wanted to reach the venue before time. Considering the Bengaluru traffic, I decided against taking the early morning flight from Pune and planned to reach Bengaluru the previous night. I asked to be put up at any Hotel that is closest to the SAP centre. Accordingly, a room at ‘Radha Hometel’, was booked for me. I was a little unsettled by the name of the hotel, but its close proximity of around 300 meters (google maps) with SAP was quite comforting.
I reached my Hotel on the night of March 7th, had a light dinner (Khichdi), finished some work and went to bed. I carried my laptop bag and an overnight bag containing all the essentials that I might need during the travel.
I was done with breakfast by 7:45 am and checked google maps to see if I could walk across the road – it showed a walk of 1.3 Kms. I checked out immediately as I wanted to reach early and make sure everything was in order. I made a few enquiries at the hotel desk regarding the route to the office, and I was told that due to flyover construction, one has to walk a certain distance and then cross the road and so on. It would, however take just about 5-7 minutes by car.
I booked a cab using the cab hailing app at about 8 am and it showed that my driver was 14 minutes away, which I felt was ok since I had a lot of time! After about 8 minutes the cab had not moved at all as it was still 14 minutes away. I called the cab driver to check if he had started and had not taken a tea break. He told me that he was able to move slowly due to traffic. I explored the option of leaving my overnight bag at the Hotel and walk 1.3 km, which would take 15-20 minutes. I was cautioned by the other guests – as it might take much longer in the evening to pick the bag on my way to airport.
At 8:20 the cab showed 11 minutes away and I started getting anxious. I checked with the Hotel, to find out if they had their own cars that I could use. I sensed that there were already quite a few people vying for it. I kept trying everything possible and finally reached the destination with my overnight bag at 9:10 am (10 minutes late), without using the services of the Cab hailing company! I learnt the hard way – time to get the Cab’ is more important than ‘Proximity’.
The recent trends of rapidly improving economy and growing aspirations of people has led to traffic congestion in large cities. Time has gradually become the most expensive resource. All these changes have gradually influenced the way people make choices. For navigation between two points, google maps used to earlier have four options: Walk, Car, cycle and public transport. It sensed the growing use of cab-hailing and has added car-hailing as another option in its navigation (not many know about it!). The fact that Google had most information about the traffic and its ubiquitous google maps, it was uniquely poised to be the aggregator of cab-hailing apps.
On this subject, I can predict some more changes (ideas) that one might experience in near future:
- The filters and sorting options in Hotel booking apps are around: Popularity, price, rating, distance, facilities and amenities, start-rating, guest rating, payment options, landmarks and deals. Some more changes that are likely to happen in near future. The hotel booking apps would start indicating ‘Ease of getting a cab’. They would also start indicating ‘average time to get a cab’ during different times of the day. Google is very placed to achieve this as well. This metric would contribute significantly in the occupancy rates of the hotel and also the extent of premium it could charge.
- Cab for bags – People who may check-out of the hotel in the morning leaving their bags behind would be able to book a cab to get their bags dropped at the airport in the evening. It might need hotels to have e-baggage tags which could be used by the cab driver to obtain the bags. This could be started by the Hotels or even by the airlines as one of the differentiators. There is an opportunity for the insurance sector also for this service.
- The travel desk of corporates would check for the concentration of cabs at various hotels before making deals with the hotels for their employees. The reason is the same – Minimise the time spent between booking a cab and getting into the cab and then finally reaching the destination. It is important to note that the anxiety levels are most when one is doing nothing but waiting for the cab after booking it. As soon as we get into the cab, we feel very secured.
- I was discussing this incident with my daughter (also helped me in writing this post) who is keen to get an opportunity to have a stint in Bangalore. She was quick in her response, “In Bangalore we never wait for the cab to come to us and instead we start moving towards the cab!” It could be possible that in future the cab hailing apps would indicate the time it would take for passengers to walk and reach the cab and offer some cash-back!
Do you agree and do you see more innovations in this space that you would like to share?