Indonesia

Grab rolls out new app features to support return of travel


Ride-hailing app Grab announced several changes to its mobile app at a virtual media briefing today (April 17) as it prepares for Southeast Asia (SEA) as the COVID-19 pandemic fades. Prepare for tourism revival.

During the briefing, Grab Group Managing Director of Operations Russell Cohen unveiled an enhanced Grab experience that meets the needs of the modern traveler, focusing on three moments of their travel experience – pre-departure, arrival and destination.

Russell Cohen, General Manager, Grab Group Operations / Photo Credit: Toyota

1. Preparation before departure

Grab is launching a new “Traveler Page” that will be available in some 33 top tourist cities in Southeast Asia. According to Cohen, this will allow users to explore and learn about Grab’s offerings in their destinations “as if they were already there”.

Image Credit: Catch

Specifically, users will be able to plan their trips by searching for popular landmarks, food options and accommodation in the destination city. They can also view specific routes, fares and pricing for these routes in advance, and add their preferred payment methods, all before leaving their home country.

Cohen continued that Grab will also be available in Chinese, Japanese and Korean for the first time, as they have traditionally been “one of the main source markets for tourists and tourists in Southeast Asia”. By removing the language barrier, Grab hopes to make the app faster, intuitive and convenient for this group of travelers.

In mid-2023, Chinese, Japanese and Korean speakers will also be able to search for places of interest in their native languages ​​on the Grab app and save them before travelling.

“Visiting a new city or country can be daunting. Logically, many people plan to travel from their home country. Grab data shows that two-thirds of travelers download and use Grab before leaving. Sign up for an account. So, the company rolled out a bunch of new features to help these travelers better plan ahead,” Cohen said.

2. Upon arrival

Cohen added that one of the main concerns travelers raised was finding the right pick-up location at a busy, unfamiliar airport. As such, Grab is working to further expand their presence and create convenient pick-up zones at major airports in the region.

Grab Lounge at Ngurah Rai International Airport / Source: Travel Continuously

The company has set up dedicated Grab lounges at four airports in Indonesia, where travelers can get help booking rides and wait comfortably for pick-up. In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, there is also a dedicated line for Grab taxis.

Meanwhile, Grab is revamping an in-app feature that provides riders with image-based walking directions to help them navigate the airport to the correct entry or exit point before booking a ride. Previously, this feature was only available after booking a Grab ride.

More importantly, this “venue feature” is not limited to airports, but also covers more than 4,000 venues in Southeast Asia, including shopping malls, office buildings, hospitals, and other entertainment venues and attractions.

Grab will also launch a currency converter that will display passenger fares in their national currency so they don’t have to do manual conversions. “Some of these might seem like small features, but I just wanted to share how much Grab is going to remove all the friction that affects the travel experience,” Cohen said.

3. Arrive at the destination

To make it easier for travelers to explore the best local flavors and cuisines, all menus on the Grab food delivery platform in major cities in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand will be translated into English. Chinese translation menus are also available in cities across Indonesia.

Cohen shared that the move was driven by Grab’s observation of a growing demand for food delivery from travelers during post-pandemic holidays. For example, in just three months from December 2022 to March 2023, the food business dedicated to tourists in Bali grew by 5%.

Image Credit: Catch

Finally, recognizing that some travelers may not want to download yet another app on their phones, Grab has partnered with some other popular apps in Asia such as Alipay, Ctrip, WeChat, Kakao T and Booking.com to provide a more seamless experience when booking a trip.

“Using these apps, travelers will be able to choose a pickup point,” Cohen said. “They can choose from a wide range of car models available locally, view and pay in their own currency.”

A decision unaffected by the pandemic

During a media briefing, Cohen explained that these moves have not been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Grab sees it as a preparatory move ahead of a tourism revival in Southeast Asia.

He noted that forecasts for tourism recovery vary, with Singapore expecting a full tourism recovery by 2024 and Vietnam by 2025.

Tourism has always been an important part of the region’s economy and local businesses. In 2019, tourism revenues to Southeast Asia’s GDP peaked at nearly US$400 million, and the region received some 143 million tourists.

As Cohen pointed out, what Grab has observed is that airports are naturally where people are using the app for the first time, as the company saw a threefold increase in airport rides between January 2022 and December 2022.

So if they can provide a great experience for visitors on the spot, there is a higher chance of seeing repeat usage and growth.

“Personally, I’ve done about 13 visits to the Grab team in the past 12 months,” Cohen said. “I was at the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore the other day, right after the nightly light show. The main lobby was packed with tourists, and I counted about 10 different tour company flags.”

“Tourism is definitely coming back to Southeast Asia, and we’re seeing it in Grab, we’re seeing it in our cities. We just want to make sure Grab is at the forefront of that renaissance.”

Featured Image Credit: Grab

Also read: Grab hikes platform fee for Singapore users from S$0.30 to S$0.70 from May 5



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