After 3 years of operation, GrabTaxi is scaling up in many countries. Now in becomes the biggest taxi booking mobile app in in Southeast Asia. In December 2014 it raised $250 million from a Japanese telecom company – SoftBank, bringing its total investments to $340 million. According to data from The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones VentureSource, now It’s most recent valuation reached $1 billion.
As of March 2015, the number of taxi drivers registered in the network has increased to 75,000, with a total of 3.8 million downloads and 620,000 monthly users in 20 cities across 6 countries in Southeast Asia. [Techcrunch].
In Thailand alone, after 18 months of operation the number of registered GrabTaxi’s drivers has reached the 15,000. In September 2014 GrabTaxi launched the beta version in Pattaya, and followed by Chiang Rai in March 2015 which is the 3th city in Thailand.
What is GrabTaxi anyway?
GrabTaxi is a Malaysia-based taxi-booking mobile application along the lines of popular car-for-hire service Uber, but with a few key differences. Uber is building out its own fleet and emphasizing on premium rides, while GrabTaxi works with the existing taxis that are already available in target cities. Using existing taxis means prices on GrabTaxi are a lot more reasonable and a lower risk of violation of related transport Acts like Uber is facing in some countries now.
GrabTaxi allows you to enter your current location and flag a taxi to your pickup location. GrabTaxi works the same way as taxi call center only that you don’t have to call the call center, but you make a booking in mobile device through the application. And the beauty of the app is it has added features included in the apps include booking history, live feed of where your taxi is, as well as a taxi driver review system.
How GrabTaxi makes money
GrabTaxi earns 7 Baht for each successful booking. The GrabTaxi’s monetization model works like this. When a new driver signs up, he/she is given 250 Baht in the system as a credit [This amount is not official]. This credit amount will be deducted by GrabTaxi as service fee each successful booking. That means when a passenger had reach the destination and he/she paid to the driver the normal metered fare with the additional 25 Baht for the booking fee, GrabTaxi takes 7 Baht cut from whatever amount the driver received. Once the credit amount is gone, the driver can continue using GrabTaxi service by topping up the amount so that GrabTaxi can it deduct for the service fee in the future rides. It is like the drivers make pre-payments for the service fee in order to continue using the service. Receiving pre-payments allows Grab Taxi to invest the funds before it is spent. A very smart way to reduce the headache related to cash flow.
GrabTaxi in Chiang Rai
GrabTaxi launched its pilot experiment in Chiang Rai around the beginning of March 2015 with less than 10 drivers. Now after 2 months it has over 60 drivers registered for the service.
GrabTaxi in Chiang Rai applies the same price scheme as in Bangkok but the actual metered fare is lower which will make the total fare lower. The service starts with a base fare of 55 Baht (30 base taxi fare + 25 Baht service fee) and the price per kilometer is the same as Chiang Rai metered taxis.
Read more about GrabTaxi coming to Chiang Rai.
This post I am going to show you how to use GrabTaxi and what are the results of using it in Chiang Rai. The process is quite simple. You almost don’t need any instruction to make a booking. The user interface within the application is quite self-explanatory.
The registration process is also simple. It is pretty much the same way as registering messaging apps like “Whatapps” or “Line“. After installed the application, you just provide email address and mobile number in the given fields. The system will send one-time activation code to your mobile, then you use that code for the registration.
After successful registration, you will received welcome note in your email. Normally GrabTaxi offers some kind of discounts for the first few ride.
Now let’s see the steps in detail.
Start the booking. Launch the application on your mobile, the built-in GPS automatically detects your location and locates the nearest driver. You only have to specify your current location and your desire destination in the “From” and “To” field respectively. The two locations are integrated into Google map via 3 location selection tools – Google Places, Foursquare, Google Search and GPS tracking in Google Map.
Once the locations are set, press Next button to review and confirm the booking in the next screen.
In the confirm booking screen, there 4 option fields you can fill in for your benefit. You can indicate a specific time for the pick up, indication for the driver, tip amount you wish to give and promo code for the discount. GrabTaxi release promo code via its website, Facebook fanpage, twitter and Line messaging app from time to time. It is very beneficial to use those code to get the discount.
Confirm booking. Once the booking is confirmed, the system started to search for the nearest drivers by broadcasting the message to the driver’s mobile phones within the range. In Bangkok, the range coverage is about 2 kms but in Chiang Rai it seems to cover a larger area. One time a driver who was 6 kms away accepted my request.
During the broadcast, the screen show which cars are available. The broadcast take only 30 seconds for the drivers to accept the booking. The algorithms used for locating and select the nearest driver are not known to the public but as far as we know the nearest driver doesn’t have to win the booking. Beside the distance, the system also calculates the shortest time to arrive and the scores of the drivers in order to match the booking.
Locating Drivers. Once a match is made, the system only picks one driver. The driver, who uses the same application can then accept or reject the request. The application eliminates the same issues that happen to call center service, such as the driver not willing to take a ride or many drivers turning up for the same job or the passenger get in another taxi because they think their booking via the call center was not successful.
Assigning a Driver. After the driver is located, the system shows the information of the driver which include full driver’s name, photo, vehicle registration plate number, and phone numbers. The driver will also see your telephone number so that both parties can communicate about any unexpected issues. (Note: We have a permission from the driver to show his detail in this article)
Once the driver is located, the system automatically sends a notification email to your email.
Track your ride. While you’re waiting for the driver, you can check his position and how long he will take to reach you. If you see he is going in a wrong direction or you want to give him more detail about where you are, you can call him via the “Contact Driver”.
If you or the driver has any question about the ride, both can make a call to one another via a button within the application. The application only brings you to the dial screen so you can make a call from there.
Inside the taxi. A GrabTaxi’s taxi is just a regular taxi but the driver uses 3G devices within the application, and he can communication with you directly. So the response times are much faster than those from the call center.
Brochures inside one of the GrabTaxi’s taxis.
After the driver pick you up, he will set status to “on ride”. During this period the system will popup a feedback screen for you to review the ride. You can rate and give a review during the ride or do it afterward. This is completely optional but if you rate and give some feedback, it will affect the driver scores.
After the driver dropped you off, he will complete the booking which will trigger the system to send a receipt to your email. For example, the receipt below is for the ride from B2 Hotel Chiang Rai (near the Clock Tower) to Chiang Rai Rajabhat University which is 11 kms away. The total fare is 130 Baht.
Promotion code for Chiang Rai passengers during May – June 2015.
Exclusive only for Chiang Rai, special promotion from GrabTaxi 50 THB off x 4 times from final fare. If you’re in Chiang Rai and about to use GrabTaxi, just enter promotion code “CEI” in the booking screen and you will received 50 Baht discount for 4 rides. This code is applicable from 11 May 2015 to 07 June 2015.
- As per information from GrabTaxi Chiang Rai there are current more than 60 registered drivers. On the booking screen it shows 20-30 available drivers. Don’t let the number of available on the application screen discourage you from using it. According to my experience, the drivers normally arrive within 10 minutes.
- If GrabTaxi release a promotion code, always use it for your discount. The discount doesn’t affect the driver as will always received full amount from GrabTaxi.
- GrabTaxi is best and most convenient for use when you’re in a hotel or any place not close to main road. Flag down taxis on the road are cheaper. Ride your own vehicle is always the most economical method.
- Don’t test the booking without actually using the service because you phone number and email will be banned from using it in the future.
- You can cancel the booking if needed, but cancelling it too many times will result in being banned from using the service.
- If you are an English-speaking passenger, this method will even lower the trouble related to communication to the minimum because the driver already has detail of your location and destination including the map navigation registered in the application at his end.
- GrabTaxi Thailand has a very active fanpage. The admin of its Facebook fanpage almost always reply all the comments. Visit GrabTaxi Thailand’s fanpage and test for yourself here: https://www.facebook.com/GrabTaxiTH
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