Grab has launched a new feature in the Grab application named “Entrances”. Whenever passengers book a Grab ride from the Yangon International Airport, Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station or a shopping mall such as Myanmar Plaza, they can look for the little green dots that lets them choose exactly where they want to be picked up.
Gone are the days of passengers having to type in “Notes” or call the driver to say if they are at the main entrance of Myanmar Plaza shopping mall or at the Myanmar Plaza Office Tower lobby. There are even useful descriptions to help passengers identify the specific pick-up point. Other locations where passengers can use the Entrances feature are Shwedagon Pagoda, Junction Square, Junction City and MICT Park with more locations to be added in the near future.
Typically, map providers place location markers right in the middle of buildings and places. These are useful for navigating from A to B but can be confusing for drivers trying to pick up or drop off passengers. Airports, shopping centres, train stations and tourist attractions are especially challenging. Compounded by high traffic and multiple entrances, these places become a pick-up roulette for drivers and passengers trying to find one another.
Through local data collection and analysis, Grab’s map operations team has rolled out more than 8,500 new, precise pick-up points across the region. The green dots on the Grab app show the different pick-up points in these busy locations, and passengers can even toggle between them to choose the most convenient.
“The green dots make it so much easier. The driver knows where to pick us up from and we know where we need to wait for him. Previously, we’d be on the phone and trying to figure out where each other is. In high-traffic areas like shopping malls or airports, the app is not only able to detect where we are but also automatically prompts us to select the closest pick-up point,” said Ma Nyein Ei Nge, a hotel marketing executive, who uses Grab to get to work daily.
Grab’s ultimate goal is to provide passengers with seamless point-to-point travel. If passengers have to walk from their selected pick-up point to where the car is, the distance walked is what Grab calls a “rendezvous distance”. To reduce such rendezvous distances, Grab first identifies the most challenging regions by crunching huge amounts of data and analysing location-related feedback from passengers and driver-partners.
Grab looks up locations online to pinpoint where the best pick-up points might be, followed by visiting each location to corroborate what has been discovered. The Grab team also talks to locals to get their feedback and assess if the pick-up point is feasible for different vehicle types, making sure it’s compliant with local regulations.
With more accurate pick-up points, the driver can pull up precisely to where passengers are waiting. Drivers are now less stressed in trying to locate passengers, who are also less likely to cancel out of frustration. The convenience the Entrances feature brings is being felt across the region, where, on average, passengers can get to their Grab ride within 40 metres. In Singapore, most passengers are now able to get to the car within 30 metres.
“We want to create the best ride-hailing experience for our customers in Southeast Asia. It’s crucial that our passengers get picked up and dropped off at the specific point they’ve indicated. We’ve made great progress, and we’re scaling rapidly to improve the accuracy of all pick-ups and drop-offs. Passengers can now enjoy the ease and convenience of being picked up at the exact airport terminal door or a particular point in a large industrial park or shopping mall,” said Ajay Bulusu, Grab’s Regional Head, Map Operations.
In addition, when a passenger makes a booking on the Grab app, its machine-learning capability has already figured out the passenger’s routine and helped auto-complete her/his destination.
As Grab works to make pick-up and drop-off points even more precise, the company will also take swift action on locations that might have been inaccurately pinned. To do so, Grab is inviting passengers to share feedback of any blind spots. With just three taps in the Grab app, passengers can access the ‘Report Location Issue’ function in the Help Centre. Passengers can select specific location issues to give feedback on, such as ‘incorrect route or entrance’ or ‘missing address, name or pick-up/drop-off location’.
Across the region, feedback from passengers has been crucial in helping Grab build a map meant for ride-hailing. Between October 2017 and January 2018, Grab delivered almost 2,000 map updates for passengers based on their feedback on locations across the region.
With the ‘Driver Rate Trip’ in-app feature, drivers can also instantly submit feedback on location issues, which gets pushed directly to Grab’s engineering and operations team for immediate action. Within four months of launching this feature, Grab has acted on more than 50,000 location-related feedback responses from driver-partners in the region. They informed Grab about restricted pick-up or drop-off points, closed roads, and even undocumented back alleys.
“A lot remains to be done to map the whole of Southeast Asia for ride-hailing, and we are definitely getting there with active feedback from our drivers and passengers. We can achieve this together as a community, if everyone helps everyone,” said Ajay.