Recently Parking Network had the chance to interview Gui Bulaty, TravelCar's CEO North America, to talk about ongoing developments, TravelCar's concept and partnerships and a glimpse into the future.
TravelCar is an innovative concept for the parking industry. Can you explain exactly what TravelCar is and how it works?
TravelCar was created in 2012 with the aim of solving two problems travelers face at the airport, simultaneously.
First, at the departure. Travelers have many options for getting to the airport. They can use public transportation, which, generally, doesn’t coincide with flight departure times. This means long waits at the airports, or rushing to get there. Plus, if travelers have big luggage, it can be a big hassle. Sure, a traveler can always ask a friend or family member to drop them off, but if the flight is early in the morning, who would take you there? Of course, there is the option of taking a taxi, ride share, or shuttle. But those can be costly and sometimes unreliable. Last but not least, travelers can drive themselves and park at the airport. In many cases, airport parking costs as much, if not more, than the plane ticket itself.
On the other end, at arrival, you have thousands of people landing at major European airports and renting cars for a very expensive price.
The total cost of parking plus car rental can be wallet-busting for travelers. Meanwhile, the current system is inefficient. Cars remain idle in one parking lot, while other dedicated rental cars are also stuck in lots if not being used. On top of this, airport traffic continues to increase with limited parking spots available. TravelCar solves these common travelers’ problems on both ends with a win-win system: Free parking and car sharing.
How it works is simple.
TravelCar guarantees travelers free airport parking, and helps them earn money, by renting out their car to other travelers while they are away. If their vehicle is rented, the car owner is paid for every mile driven. Owners can travel with ease knowing their car is fully insured. If the car is not rented, they still benefit from free parking. Car owners who prefer not to share their car will receive the lowest airport parking rates guaranteed. Travelers looking to rent a vehicle can have access to a private car for up to 70 percent less than traditional rental car companies. It is fully inspected and verified by a professional and renters can still choose favorite adds-ons, like GPS and baby seats.
To increase our network, TravelCar partners with different types of companies to help them optimize their assets by integrating our solution. For example, we work with airport parking operators who may experience empty parking lots during off-season and full parking lots during peak season. We provide a solution for both of these issues. For empty lots, they can list their paid parking spots on our platform which helps to fill up their customer flow year-round so they can earn more parking revenues. For full parking lot, partners can implement a new service, carsharing, which helps to free up spots during high season periods, thus increasing revenues per spots. We provide them for free, our technology so that owners and renters can do their own inspection of the vehicle and they can verify the identity of the customers and we cover both the owner and the renter with our insurance.
Both solutions happen through simple integration, with advanced management tools which allow partners access to flexible pricing scheduling, powerful revenue management capabilities and more.
To target travelers, we also partner with several travel companies such as Air Azur, Air Austral and the Air France Group, OTA’s such as ODIGEO Group, Look Voyages, Amadeus, among others. These companies offer our services to their customers and earn ancillary revenue at no cost. For example, when a traveler buys a plane ticket from a partner, like Transavia, they have the option to select our free or paid airport parking options.
TravelCar is a one-stop-shop ground transportation solution. Travelers can leave their car with us for free or pay for a parking space and they can rent a car with us! We already have partnerships with many parking operators all around the globe.
What has the general reaction been of people using the service?
You can look at those online with Trustpilot, where we score 9.4 out of 10. We are the highest rated parking provider on the Internet. Our reviews are high because we are not just a booking platform, but have top customer service available in 30 different languages 24/7. On one recent review, a customer said “Service was great. I had a comfortable ride to and from the airport and my car was washed and cleaned when I picked it up”. This customer left his car with us in LAX, in the USA.
Now that we are talking about the US; You have a partnership with PSA in the US and they recently launched a mobility service platform, Free2move. What can you tell me about your involvement with Free2move?
Free2move is a new mobility brand for Groupe PSA. Through the Free2Move app, users compare and book various transportation options, like carsharing and bike sharing. The service is aimed at helping people move around in the most efficient way. One of the ideas of Groupe PSA is to invest now in the future of mobility because they know the automotive world will be very different in the future. Groupe PSA sells cars today, but as mobility services evolve, they have realized it will be important to be in the business of MaaS - Mobility as a Service.
Groupe PSA is one of our shareholders and they helped us launch our service in the USA this year. PSA withdrew from the North American market in 1991 and wanted to find a way to re-enter the USA with new mobility solutions. They chose us to spearhead this movement and to offer our travelers mobility services in their portfolio in the US. In the USA we are one of their largest partners.
You are developing your presence abroad. How many countries can we find TravelCar in and what are some of the major airports you are working with?
We are present in almost 50 countries. In Europe, we are in most major airports today in the Netherlands, France, Germany, UK, Italy, Spain. In Western Europe, we are growing fast. We are also present in Asia, like in China and Russia. North America, we are in the US and Canada and have begun our expansion in South America with Argentina and Brazil. In Africa, we have a presence in Maghreb and South Africa.
Can you give us a glimpse into the future? You are doing impressive things as it is now but coming from you, what do you think is going to be the trend in airport parking and mainly, what can we expect from TravelCar in the next 2 to 3 years?
Since airports are increasingly challenged to improve their profitability, if today airline fees and charges are the largest part of their revenues, enhancing non-airline income is important. Parking revenues may total 40% of all airport charges.
Today, airline fees and extras, like baggage, seat upgrades and food, are the largest part of their revenues. As airlines look for ways to increase ancillary revenue, they will turn to airport parking. We know parking is real estate. And like every real estate in the world, the price is getting very high. With our solution of free parking and carsharing, we are helping parking operators optimize the use of their real estate and earn more revenues with every spot. Sharing economy is an important trend in the mobility and travel customer’s minds. TravelCar brings a cost-effective, not to mention environmentally-friendly solution for travelers, with the service of a professional. For the next 3 years our objective is to serve most of the global travelers, both at the airport they are departing from as well as the airport where they are landing, and we want to do that everywhere!
For more information, visit www.travelcar.com.
TravelCar is the world leader in airport based parking and carsharing services. Founded in 2012, TravelCar currently operates in 50 countries and provides travelers free parking at airports, train stations and city centers in exchange for renting out their cars to other travelers. TravelCar is known for investing heavily on customer service with a best in industry call center available 24 hours a day. TravelCar also brokers parking spots at an extensive network of parking facilities through travel agencies and its website travelcar.com. TravelCar has offices in beautiful France and sunny California. It has raised more than $22M in funds and continues to expand its global footprint.