Markish Arun, Vice President, Engineering, Zoomcar

ICT has been gradually making inroads into the travel and hospitality sector. Enterprises in this space have been deploying cutting-edge solutions based on new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), and data analytics in an effort to enhance business efficiency and improve customer experience. In fact, technology has played a critical role in keeping the sector afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic, with companies implementing various tech based, contactless solutions to continue operations.  Markish Arun, Vice President, Engineering, Zoomcar, shares his views on the evolving technology trends in the sector…

How has Covid-19 impacted the travel and tourism industry? How ICT and technology  have helped in addressing some of the challenges being faced?

Covid-19 has indeed changed the dynamics of our economy. What used to be the norm till last year may well become obsolete in the future. Therefore, every industry needs to adapt itself to the new normal. The past few months have been a wild ride for everyone, and particularly for those in the mobility sector. In the last few weeks of May, we began to gradually build up operations and saw bookings and subscriptions come back in a strong way. We are already seeing a 400 per cent rise in demand, and we expect this to settle down at 200-300 per cent over the next few months. People are now looking for short-term mobility options as opposed to the long-term expense of owning a car. We have seen a steady rise in demand for cars for personal work and emergency use cases.

At Zoomcar, we are using technology to offer customers an impeccable experience by providing them real-time updates on the sanitisation of the vehicle, their subscription plans, and more. With the growing affinity of consumers towards shared mobility and digital technology, subscription models are turning the automotive industry upside down.

What has been the uptake of new-age technologies such as AI, IoT, AR/VR in the sector in recent years? What kind of transformation have you seen in this space in the wake of the pandemic?

We use AI for vehicle monitoring and predictive maintenance. For example, our models can detect patterns in engine temperatures and coolant levels to predict engine seizures before they happen and guide customers safely to a stop before an emergency situation occurs. We also have models that predict the optimum replacement times for batteries and clutches, thus minimising breakdowns. Last year, we captured almost a 100 billion vehicle-related data points such as speed, distance, revolutions per minute, clutch and brake times. Our unique driver score technology encourages customers to drive cautiously and will have far-reaching consequences for the safety and longevity of our cars. The Zoomcar app, moreover, allows customers to reach out at any time in case of a query through email, messages and chatbots.

How has your business been impacted and what technology measures have you taken or planned to deal with the Covid-19 crisis?

Zoomcar has always been at the cutting-edge of tech-enabled mobility solutions. AI and IoT are the two pillars on which our experience works, and Covid-19 has brought their importance into even sharper focus. For example, app-enabled keyless entry technology minimises human contact, which is critical in these times of viral spread. Our entire tech stack and operations have already evolved to ensure that every car is thoroughly sanitised before and after each drive.

In a post-Covid world, what key digital trends will shape the travel and tourism industry?

  • AI-integrated models with keyless entry systems: With keyless entry systems that require little to no physical contact and real-time updates regarding vehicle sanitisation, rental car brands are leaving no stone unturned to offer customers a safe and comfortable experience. Technology has taken the safety aspect up a notch and the silver lining for companies is that it allows them real-time monitoring of their vehicles to avoid any loss or damage to the cars.
  • Tech-powered customer service: With features such as chatbots, 24×7 customer experience, the flexibility to reschedule or cancel bookings free of cost, and integrated payment gateways, shared mobility brands are bringing everything under one roof with mobile apps.