16 sep 19

Speed dating with the Smart Mobility Institute in Brussels

Fleet and mobility professionals from across Europe met, and dated, for the second session of the Smart Mobility Institute session in Brussels on 16 September. The goal: making sense of all the changes they are implementing or considering to implement.

The Smart Mobility Institute was created to help fleet and mobility professionals find their way out of the mobility maze. How are other people in the industry implementing MaaS? Should they merge Fleet and Travel? What role is their for HR in fleet policies? These topics and many more were on the agenda of the day.

This second session of the Smart Mobility Institute was made possible by five sponsors: consultancy BDO and its mobility solution Vaigo, Sixt, Thalys, TMC and Uber for Business. All are active in mobility but there background is very different, which makes for an interesting mix.

The same was true for the fleet and mobility professionals who attended this session, who included representatives from Accenture, Infor, VF Europe, Idexx, Microsoft, Ingersoll Rand, BDO, Nike, Tier Mobility, Autodesk, UCB, Philips, Johnson & Johnson, Alpega, Coca-Cola, Bayer and Nokia.

Highlights of the first SMI session

After a short introduction, Fleet Europe expert Yves Helven gave a summary of the first session of the SMI, earlier in 2019, which was about finding common requirements to move from Fleet to Mobility.

Mobility encounters many obstacles, concluded Mr Helven, but there are no mobility showstoppers, only elements that slow down the implementation of flexible solutions. Change per se is not an obstacle as mobility is offered as an additional tool and not as an alternative to a car. The transactional complexity of mobility may be difficult but it is not an obstacle.

Localisation, on the other hand, is an obstacle: when you implement a new leasing company, you can have one contact for the whole of Europe. For mobility, on the other hand, your focus needs to be city-based and needs to be implemented in a completely different way. A pan-European roll-out of mobility is difficult or even impossible.

Speed dating

The concept requires little introduction, though the desired outcome was less romantic. Every 15 minutes, the fleet, mobility and HR professionals in the room moved to a different table to discuss what the service provider at that table could offer. At the same time, those providers had the opportunity to have an open discussion with possible future customers.

TMC presented Mobility+, a service that enables companies to manage all business-related travel costs through a single dashboard. The system makes recommendations for optimising mobility at both company and individual level, based on employee travel patterns. A dashboard helps employees track spending and stay within budget.

Consultancy BDO recently invested in Vaigo, a mobility payment app that used to be known as Eurides. As employees have started requesting more flexibility, companies have been forces to rethink their mobility policies. Vaigo makes this easier by managing policies for its clients, by managing transport options, by connecting with HR and payroll departments to ensure all staff are on board - all of which help to ensure administration for flexible mobility is limited to an absolute minimum.

Originally, Sixt was a car rental company, but they have since expanded into MaaS with the Sixt One app, which allows users to rent or share cars and to book e-scooters. Sixt also launched the Sixt Mobility Club, an exclusive members only club uniting large international corporate fleets that are willing to swap ownership for MaaS during a 3-6-month pilot programme.

Uber presented Uber for Business, a convenient option for corporate travellers while providing insights to headquarters. Can be by directly charging the company or an expense provider or another way. Safety is also an important aspect. Increasingly, Uber incorporates what it calls guest products, e.g. sending vouchers to users so they can get home safely after a Christmas party.

Thalys is well-known for its high-speed trains in parts of Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France.. Companies and definitely also employees value sustainability more than before, meaning they prefer train rides to flights for shorter distances. A train is also more convenient as it is less crowded and less stressful. That's why Thalys offers dedicated services to companies, including tickets with added flexibility.

The speed dating was followed by a networking lunch and, at least for some, an early night. Better be ready for the second day of the SMI, the following day!

Photo: group photo of the Smart Mobility Institute

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck