The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we travel forever. Almost a year into the pandemic and intercity travellers’ priorities and preferences in India have gone through a sea change.
There was a time when people waited to be back home from work. However, after being confined within homes for months, they are now yearning to go out again without compromising their safety. According to a recent study, almost 62% of Indian travellers favour a trip they can afford in the short-term rather than saving for a dream trip with more uncertainty. We are witnessing a positive influence on intercity travel after the initiation of the vaccine drive in India. Young job-seekers and urban settlers were forced back to their home cities and towns as work-from-home became a norm. As the norms start getting relaxed, we see a flux in intercity ridership between Tier-I/Tier-II cities and metros. Flights being prohibitively expensive for short-haul and trains either out of operations or booked out, these travellers see inter-city bus travel as the only viable option. With the distinctive advantages that buses have over other means of transport, there is a pressing need to meet the safety quotient.
Cover the distance, safely
Delivering a reliable travel experience is no easy task in a country like ours. Travellers from diverse backgrounds with different needs and expectations are now united by a common priority, i.e. safety. What makes it possible for intercity travel service providers to earn passengers’ trust so that they step out of their homes and into a bus without any worry? Service delivery models must be innovatively deliberated from both the supplier’s and the customer’s perspectives. There are a few key aspects of this reimagination:
Formulating deep sanitisation protocols which are embedded into the playbook – safety is no more a luxury, it is the basic minimum pointer on our checklist for which we must build an operations-wide DNA that understands the importance of delivering superior customer safety standards as a habit. We have experts who train our staff to maintain the highest hygiene & sanitization standards. YoloBus cabins are sprayed before and after every journey as a protocol and the crew is mandated to wear PPE. They carry temperature guns to check every passenger and sanitise their luggage before boarding the bus.
Technology to assist contactless journeys – our crew and customers are empowered with a seamless app that enables 100% contactless boarding and deboarding. With real-time alerts and communication, the mobility apps cut down on the need for human interaction within the bus eco-system thereby reducing potential contact, significantly. Each passenger knows the exact details of her route and journey in real-time, a crucial element that has made possible a minimum contact journey.
Training and Empathy – The pandemic has resulted in drastic changes in guidelines and measures that can, understandably, create a lot of stress. Maintaining safe distance protocols doesn’t need to involve emotional distance. A well-trained staff that understands this will earn the much-needed trust that this industry generally lacks.
Pre-vetted rest stops and hop points – Another key part of a bus journey hinges on the quality of rest stops, conveniences available, and amenities at the hops along the way. With the growth of digital natives, we realize customers are used to service excellence in all walks of life. delivery of such excellence in an industry that has till now served a broken experience is a muscle we’re building. Route cataloguing is an essential part of our route launch routine. Our in-house team verifies each rest stop for its hygiene standards, quality of cleanliness, safety measures practised, adherence to COVID-19 protection norms, washroom maintenance, etc. This team makes sure passengers’ on-the-go requirements are met without compromising on their health.
Raising awareness – A pandemic can cause myths and misconceptions among the common people. Sharing best practices is one way of helping them travel safely. For example, once all passengers are seated in a YoloBus, the bus captain announces the journey and details, sensitizes them on the importance of safety and shares tips to maintain it. Captains and drivers follow safety protocols and these have been highlighted not only on our digital assets but also on our buses to build constant recall.
The way we see it, inter-city travel is steadily going back to how it was sans the tolerance for low safety and hygienic standards. It, therefore, becomes imperative that service providers deliver that reliable experience that their passengers deserve. The more trust services providers earn from travellers, the faster will be their journey on the road to business recovery.
Founder & CEO, YoloBus
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