In under a decade, the growth of Rideshare services has been explosive. On a global scale, companies like Uber, Lyft, Ola, and Didi have experienced tremendous growth. Even regional-based rideshare companies like Go-Jek, Easy taxi, and Careem have gained a strong foothold and are experiencing success. When added together, the market exceeds 50 million drivers/vehicles servicing passengers in need of a lift.
In Sept 2019, Kenneth Research reported that by 2025, the market for ride sharing would reach USD 220.5 Billion, and expected to grow over the forecasted 2018-2025 period at a very strong rate of more than 20%.
With this global growth, and the entry of more players at the regional level, the “blue ocean” days of rideshare companies may be coming to an end. With the number of competitors on the rise, and global and regional markets becoming saturated, the operational economics and profitability of Rideshare companies is becoming squeezed. Rideshare companies are now under pressure to find ways to increase per-ride revenues, differentiate their services from others, while also maintaining and improving customer experiences and satisfaction – especially when it comes to “health” and “wellness.”
In Q3 of 2019, research by McKinsey suggested that a number of advancements, most notably in smarter design, better passenger experiences, and the application and use of more advanced data analytics, could create a rideshare solution with better economics. These changes, think of it as Rideshare 2.0 or 3.0, would entice more consumers to use ridesharing services… while at the same time attracting and retaining more drivers and further improve their economic model.
More recently, health fears have become top of mind. The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound effect on the worldwide rideshare marketplace. The combination of Shelter in Place (SIP) orders and the mandate that only businesses deemed “essential” may continue to operate has significantly reduced the need for rideshare services. The number of places to go has become severely limited – reduced airport shuttling, fewer restaurant and entertainment outings, a lack of business travel, and other personal rideshare needs have essentially disappeared. Yet, with all this, rideshare companies continue to operate, and are even helping during the pandemic by offering services for healthcare and first responder workers, food delivery services, and other critical transportation needs. Yet one key problem still remains, and will undoubtedly remain, for quite some time – fear for one’s health.
According to a news report from Forbes in March of 2020: UberEats has seen a 30% increase in sign-ups for the service and an increase in new drivers. Forbes also reported that despite the pandemic, a 10% increase in UberEats sales occurred over the previous week. In other news, Lyft offered drivers the chance to join the “LyftUp Driver Task Force, to do paid rides that help neighbors get to grocery stores, workers to hospitals, and caretakers to their jobs.” Uber Health, which gets patients to doctor’s appointments, was continuing to operate despite the pandemic and lock down.
Health and Wellness Concerns
Undoubtedly, the current and longer-term impact of passenger and driver health-related fears is troubling for the industry. And rideshare companies and their suppliers have already begun the process of addressing this health concern. The rideshare industry is in motion, analyzing and planning ways to ensure the safety of both drivers and passengers. “Health” and “Wellness” have now become a critical component for rideshare companies to address, and they are looking at solutions from both inside their own organizations and from outside vendors to address the situation – now and into the future.
Because there is a clear conflict between the CDC’s social distancing recommendations of 6 feet from others and the very nature of ridesharing pools, service providers have already implemented service changes during the pandemic. Uber and Lyft have eliminated shared (pooled) passenger rides in both the U.S. and Canada. And, while not mandated to do so, drivers have begun wiping down vehicle cabins in-between passengers, a task which is being reported to take up to 15 minutes.
Health and Wellness Solutions
Third party suppliers to rideshare companies are fast developing “Health and Wellness” solutions to address the “cabin fears” that both drivers and passengers have of contracting a viral or bacterial contagion. Several solutions have surfaced in the market that can be easily integrated into rideshare vehicle cabins to reduce the transmission of contagions both by direct touch and by aerosol exposure. An in-cabin sterilization system that can be mounted to the headliner is being developed that uses UV (ultraviolet) light to eliminate surface contagions. Another Health and Wellness solution is delivered through in-vehicle scent-diffusers, using ingredients that are known to reduce the presence of both airborne viruses and bacteria. Both solutions are in development and will likely be popular with riders, drivers and rideshare companies as they provide a healthier environment once released and deployed.
Be Safe out there!
Keith Kelsen is the CEO of Inhalió, Inc. offering scent solutions for rideshare including the “Wellness RideshareTM” technology that includes wellbeing Mood Mapping, Motion Sickness Relief, Antiviral and Antibacterial Ingredients to eliminate air-borne pathogens, and Malodor solutions that eliminate odors that make for bad passenger experiences – all using the Inhalio Digital Scent 3.0 Platform designed specifically to address the current Rideshare marketplace.
Related “Wellness Ride” articles and announcements:
Rideshare and Wellness Ride: https://inhalio.com/markets/rideshare-scent-diffuser/