Opinion

Analytics and technology are disrupting the auto-rental industry

JD Pawar
18th Oct 2017
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The inflow of technology in every aspect of life has transformed the way we function on a daily basis. From the payment industry to the transport industry, most of our interactions are through an application or interface. Technology and analytics which originally impacted us at an individual level has slowly but surely begun influencing various industries around us, including the auto-rental industry.

Earlier managing a fleet (i.e. of motorbikes or cars) was static in nature and companies were left clueless about the location of their vehicles. Data was recorded manually and the real time availability of the fleet was impossible to guess. In today’s time, the advancement in technology has led to an accurate read on the real time availability and status of vehicles. Integrated vehicle telematics and GPS navigation systems allow us to read, transmit and capture data on the location and status of the fleet.

In India, the market for the bike rental industry is approx. $ 300 million. Technology is changing the dynamics and making way for a more reflective as well as responsive platform for the users. Here are some ways in which analytics and technology are impacting the auto-rental industry:

  • Optimum fleet status & availability

Maintaining an adequate fleet at the time of maximum requirement is one of the most challenging things of renting platforms. Companies today are using real-time and GPS locations to allocate vehicles. Even after these precautions, unpredictable demand does arise where companies fail to provide the consumer with the motorbike or car. These situations can be avoided with accurate forecasting using analytics.

Companies can forecast demand by analysing historic data on the basis of location, day of the week and time slot in a day. This analysis can lead to predictions of peak and non-peak periods within a day and week. Thus, the company can prepare for surplus and deficit demand of the consumers.

Forecasting also leads to discerning frequency and seasonality patterns in consumer demands and in-turn ensures optimal availability of fleet on the ground for the consumers. Use of predictive analytics via tools has improved data analysis and predictions. Companies can now plan and deploy vehicles according to the time and day of the week. This also helps in reducing the idle time of a vehicle in lean periods. Hence optimal scheduling of fleet leads to profitability and ensures an accurate number of vehicles on the ground.

  • Customer Satisfaction:

One of the most essential aspects in driving the revenue of a company is customer satisfaction. Customers can choose between various platforms to book vehicles. Sometimes, the booking is cancelled and the customer is unaware of the development. Such situations can lead to a dissatisfied customer which may imply loss of business from that customer and a negative word of mouth in the market.

Some of the key drivers to improve customer satisfaction include the availability of vehicles, relative pricing, behaviour & skills of the driver, adherence to booking, etc.

Taking feedback from the consumer is one of the certain ways of measuring one’s service quality. Collecting customer satisfaction score is an easy and cost-effective method to gauge consumer sentiments. It helps the company to discover reasons behind cancellation as well as customer delight. The company can use this tool to attract, retain and maintain a healthy consumer base in the market.

  • Vendor Management:

Vendor management has evolved many folds with time. Auto-rental companies are in-touch with vendors from various geographies and time-zones. Hence, managing and collecting relevant data from these vendors becomes an unyielding task without the aid of technology.

Companies in India are training the vendor on the usage of applications and interface to obtain a real-time status of fleet. Vendors are able to update the app from their ends and provide the company (along with the consumer) with a real-time status on the vehicle. Companies can now reach and sustain vendors from far-off locations.

Vendors are now able to update and maintain fleet status from different locations. This provides companies with accurate data on the fleets and they are able to reach remote locations and provide vehicles for renting. Physical distance is no more a hindrance; companies are ready to service customers in every possible location.

A recent study predicts 299.24 million smartphone users in India by the end of 2017, this indicates evolving preferences and growing acceptance of technology. The Auto-rental industry is thus experiencing a growth in business with the increased use of smartphones in India

The age group actively renting out motorbikes is largely between 20 to 30 years. With the purpose of renting ranging from holidays to inter-city travel, the demand for intra-city daily commute is slowly increasing. The seasoned consumer expects onspot mobility and responsive services. The trend of renting motorbikes/cars has become about being mobile and free.

Industries are evolving their existing methodologies and analytics are seeping into numerous elements. Companies are adapting fast and providing real-time data and services to keep the consumer happy. The auto-rental industry can now offer the consumer with various feasible options to travel.

Companies, vendors and consumers alike can now interact on a real-time basis and this allows a constant flow of data. The interpretation of this data plays a crucial role to further improve operational efficiency and the top-line of an auto-rental company.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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