Ideas triggered by Bengaluru traffic

posted by Ravi Arora April 13, 2018

I was in office on March 6, 2018, planning my trip to Bangalore for a business meeting at the SAP center in Whitefield along with several other Tata delegates. The meeting was scheduled for 9 am on March 8. Being the organizer, I wanted to reach the venue much 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 center. Accordingly, a room at ‘Radha Hometel’, was booked for me. Ii was a new hotel for me, but its close proximity of around 300 meters (google maps) with SAP was very comforting.

I reached my Hotel on the night of March 7th, had a light dinner (Khichdi), finished some work and went to sleep. I had 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 of the hotel immediately as I wanted to reach early. 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 needs 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 was ok with me since I had a lot of time! After about 8 minutes the cab had not moved at all and 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 very 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 factor than Proximity when selecting a Hotel”.

The recent trends of rapidly growing economy and higher aspirations of people has led to traffic congestion in large cities.  This has 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 has most information about the traffic through its ubiquitous google-maps, they were uniquely poised to be the aggregators of cab-hailing apps.

This experience in Bengaluru has triggered a few more ideas and I do expect people to experience them in the coming months and years:

  • The filters and sorting options in Hotel booking apps are around: Popularity, price, rating, distance, facilities/amenities, star-rating, guest-rating, payment options, landmarks and deals. I believe they 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. I believe this metric would contribute significantly in the occupancy rates of the hotel and the premium they 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 from the Hotel concierge. This service could be started by the Hotels or by the airlines as one of the differentiators. This is an opportunity for the insurance sector also.
  • 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 – Minimize the waiting time after booking a cab. 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 all feel very secured. Is there an opportunity to extract value during this wait time?
  • I was discussing this incident with my daughter (she also helped me in writing this post) who is keen to get an opportunity to have a stint (intern) 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 see more innovations in this space?

Situations and incidents of problems, which people come across and deal with them or circumvent them are golden opportunities to generate innovative ideas. I explained how Design thinking could help in such cases. In the next two posts, I will take two more such cases: Indian Railways and Roads within the city/town.