Autonomous cars, car sharing services: although car sales are increasing, things aren’t easy for car brands. Capgemini’s Cars Online 2017 research shows an increasing popularity of mobility services. This includes car and ride sharing, multimodal transport models – a combination of car sharing, bike rental and public transport – and mobility on demand – using a vehicle on demand. Consumer behaviour is changing and car brands are struggling to adapt to their new role within the digital and sharing economy.

New business models for the car industry

In their search for new business models, a lot of traditional car brands are starting new projects or companies to transform from a car manufacturer into a mobility service provider. Many of them mainly focus on the so-called hailing apps – applications for consumers to directly book a car, taxi or other transport on location, via a computer or mobile device. However, these car brands fail to see one important opportunity: the enormous potential and growth of the market for pre-booked transfers, stemming from and led by the travel industry. After all, if you’ve already pre-booked a transfer, there’s no more need for on demand transport via hailing apps.

Pre-booked transfers

An important trend in the travel industry is the extensive integration of pre-booked transfers into the complete booking process of a trip: the booking of a transfer in advance – both shared and private – from or to an airport, train station, port or other destination. For consumers, pre-booking a flight or accommodation is common practice, and booking a transfer in advance is now emergent as well. That’s why it’s not surprising that major players like Amadeus, Expedia, Booking.com and CarTrawler are already integrating pre-booked transfers into their sales channels and booking services.

Supporting the traveller

This is a great opportunity for traditional car brands to make a difference as mobility partner. Nowadays, consumers are looking for control and comfort. Travelling should be as easy and stress-free as possible, and this can start with the booking process. According to Amadeus research, car manufacturers that only focus on hailing apps, fail to meet all the travellers’ modern needs, such as personalisation and a seamless travel experience. For example, the hailing application services mainly cover densely populated areas, but the solution doesn’t function that well in more remote areas, where transport is harder to organise. In addition, the applications don’t entirely take away the travellers’ concerns. They’ll still worry about details like: Will the car be on time? What will the costs be? Will they accept my credit card? And: Can I trust the driver? Both business and leisure travellers are looking for and expecting the travel industry to deliver a reliable door-to-door solution. Pre-booking a car, including a driver, via a reliable company is the only way to meet these demands.

An integrated solution like a hailing and pre-booked transfer service seems to be the perfect chance for car brands. This way, they serve the demanding, independent travellers in every way. They’re offered a complete travel experience from door-to-door, thanks to a pre-booked transfer. Once they have arrived at their destination, travellers can benefit from a hailing application in case they need transport that needs to be arranged last minute and on location. The car manufacturer that’s able to support these developments and involve his cars in this solution, is ready for the future.

Ojo Meijers – CEO TaxiTender