11 Nov 2016 12:43 IST

Ola re-launches loyalty membership service

Ola Select will take on Uber VIP, when it is launched in India

Online cab aggregator Ola relaunched its loyalty membership services, Ola Select, on October 29, a move targeted at creating a recurring revenue model, in the face of stiff competition from rival Uber, which has shifted its focus to India as the next big growth market after selling off its China business to Didi Chuxing.

Targeted at the company’s ‘power users’, the new Select with a fresh bouquet of benefits, is being offered to a select customer-base for complimentary trials, which kicks in from the day Ola Select is activated by the user for a period of 30 days, after which the user will have to pay ₹500 a month to continue the membership.

More benefits

While Ola declined to comment on the specifics of the new Select, sources in the company told BusinessLine that in addition to the two earlier benefits — of no peak pricing on Mini and Prime rides, and free Wi-Fi availability on Micro, Mini and Prime rides — that were offered to users during the Beta launch of Select in August, the new offering includes top priority to booking requests of Mini and Prime, when they are not easily available, and upgrades to Prime sedans at Mini fares.

Prime rides cost ₹2-3 more per km compared with Mini rides, depending on the city. Select also offers benefits such as: free access to airport lounges, offers/discounts from brand partners, access to events such as concerts, matches etc sponsored by Ola, top-rated drivers and cars for members, along with priority customer support with double-quick resolution times.

While the beta launch of Select was restricted to six cities — Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Delhi and Bengaluru — this time around, it is available in all 10 cities where Prime is offered, with the addition of Pune, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Chandigarh. Power users are typically those who use Ola services 5-6 times a week, said sources who revealed that Ola has also opened up nominations for Select from its employees, friends, families, trusted vendors/agencies. Membership to Select is by invite only.

Ola is following in the footsteps of Apple, a brand that has mastered the art of getting guaranteed, recurring revenue streams from its iPhone customers with services that offer compelling value propositions such as iTunes, Apple TV and unlimited music-streaming subscription service for ₹199 a month, said Rajeev Banduni, CEO of London-based, online advisory services firm GrowthEnabler.

“If Ola succeeds in creating a strong value proposition that its users will readily pay for every month, it will be well poised to take on Uber VIP, a rewards programme that Uber will definitely soon launch in India,” added Banduni.

Advertising professional Rolf Hennessy, an Ola regular, says he is happy to pay ₹500 a month for Select for two reasons. “It will save me from shelling out huge amounts in peak pricing everyday, and importantly help me save on mobile data costs as the free Wi-Fi helps me stay connected during long commutes, allowing me to check, send and receive mails.”

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