South is the largest contributor to our business: Prakash Sangam, redBus

Prakash Sangam, CEO, redBus, tells us more about the new service rPool, signing MS Dhoni as brand ambassador, plans for 2019 and more

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: Jun 14, 2019 9:00 AM
Prakash Sangam redBus

redBus, the online bus ticketing platform has launched advanced carpooling service on its platform, called rPool. The new service by redBus allows office goers to avail and offer rides in their personal cars, while commuting between home and their workplace. rPool can be accessed directly from within the redBus mobile app. The company has roped in Cricketer MS Dhoni as a brand ambassador this year.

Prakash Sangam, CEO, redBus, spoke about the new service, on signing MS Dhoni as the brand ambassador, plans for 2019, etc.

On rPool

rPool is a carpool solution for working professionals that enable them to offer and avail rides, between their homes and offices. It is integrated into the redBus app and uses advanced technology to connect ride givers and ride takers. The matching algorithm ensures that ride givers don’t have to deviate or take any detours from their daily work route and ride takers get to travel the maximum distance of their commute as a part of the shared ride.

In order to build a trusted community of ride givers and ride takers, rPool is restricted to working professionals undertaking daily commute. Users are verified through their mobile number and their organization’s corporate email id. redBus has introduced phone number masking which enables users to connect with each other via the redBus app without revealing their phone numbers to each other thus ensuring privacy. Ride takers on rPool would be provided accident insurance free of cost for each ride.

On expanding the market penetration

The major part of their business comes from the South and West markets. Speaking on their strategies to penetrate more into the northern market, Sangam said, “What we are working on in the North market is to improve the quality of services”.

One of the challenges we face was that the bus operators would not take buses off on time because they don’t see a threshold occupancy. Hence, they would wait for the buses to get filled up and that would often cause a delay in departure leading to customer dissatisfaction. We have launched a concept called, on-time guarantee, where we are assuring a customer of on-time departure of the buses. In case the departure is delayed by 30 minutes, then they will get 25% refund instantaneously. The delay in departure is tracked using the vehicle tracking system. This is funded by the bus operators and they adhere by the policy because as a platform we are able to channel a lot of on-demand to them.

We want to make more interventions like this in northern and other markets where the quality of the services can be improved.

On signing MS Dhoni as brand ambassador

A large part of our business comes from South and West of India and within that South is the largest contributor. We are basically making people move from offline ticketing to online ticketing. The offline market in non-South is bigger than the South market. We wanted to get a brand ambassador who can connect with non-South users at the same time popular enough in South India as well. We looked at many possible contenders and did a survey with our users across the country, asking them their favorite Celebrity and the reasons for that. The fact that MS Dhoni is a legendary cricketer came as the third reason. The No:1 reason is because of the values he personified. So, the values possessed by him resonate a lot with our users and us a brand.

On Advertising and Marketing Strategies

We are leveraging MS Dhoni. We do a lot of marketing spends during travel season which is the Summer Vacation period and festive period. If you look at our overall spend, close to about 45% of our spends will be going towards ATL and another 45% towards Digital, both in brand building and performance marketing and another 10% for BTL.

Focus areas for 2019

We are focusing on keeping the growth going in our core bus business and that will come by identifying the under-penetrated market. From a market segment point of view, the State RTCs are under-penetrated from an online perspective, that is a focus area for growth. We want to extend our services in Tier2, Tier 3 towns in South and West markets. Apart from that, we are focused on international geographies.

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