RidePal: Retention and Referral

RidePal is a bus commuting company that claims to be more convenient, social, comfortable, relaxing, and more environmentally friendly. They focus on serving both individuals as well as corporate companies that want to provide transportation to their employees. RidePal claims that their service will allow these corporations to recruit and retain top talent. Their bus service routes are organized in the regions mostly surrounding the bay area and include: San Francisco, Mountain View, San Mateo, Menlo Park, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Fremont, Pleasanton, Redwood City, Woodside, San Ramon, and San Jose. They believe that the “commute obstacle” can deter people from applying to distant jobs and can also hinder retention of employees once they start working at a company that involves a long commute. They also believe their service will deliver employees that are “fresh, healthy and more productive,” which seems like a marketing stretch that they obviously can’t guarantee.

From the website, it seems like the individual pays per ride and the company customer has a contract with RidePal in which buses go directly from certain neighborhoods in adjacent towns straight to the work place. The company only pays for the control and the flexibility they care about and RidePal does the rest. Likewise, the company customer only pays for the seats they use and not pre-paid seats that are not utilized. As for the service they provide for the individual, each rider gets a profile and can set up one of the rides that the company has paid for or any ride that is close to their home. If the ride doesn’t stop near them, they have the option of voting for a better location. The company has a voting poll set up and every new stop needs to have enough voters to fill a bus, before they activate it. This allows companies to cater to their employees without too much organization from the company customer’s end. RidePal takes care of the voting and the locations and relays the information back to the company customer who is paying. The individual can also vote for new locations and this is also taken into account the same way.

RidePal’s retention strategy seems to have involved initially acquiring a set of commuters (either individuals or company contracts). The next step was to cater the commuter’s experience depending on where they live and where they work. As the commuting experience is becoming more personalized and each commuter has the power to create their own route, given enough interest in that area, the commuters are satisfied further. It seems like the voting poll can keep people coming back and checking to see what new routes have become active. It also allows new individuals or companies to sign up or sign contracts with RidePal if useful work drop-off points are established. RidePal seems to have contracts with large companies in the bay area; however, I could not access any information pertaining to the corporate connections. These contracts, if they exist, could also increase retention, as company customers would encourage their workers to take such transportation, which would fill the buses.

As for the referral aspect of RidePal, there were not any direct links or emails sent to me to refer their services to other companies or other individual commuters. RidePal also does not seem to have a phone application, which would allow easier navigation and give rider alerts. A phone application would be very useful, as rider’s would be able to track their bus arrivals and departures or other departures, if they happen to be in meeting downtown (away from their suburban home) and still want to use RidePal’s services. It would also be useful for individuals to be able to pay on mobile devices for the rides they want. Ultimately, a phone application would widen the customer base and possibly increase referrals. Lastly, this service works similarly to the private Microsoft Connector, which allows Microsoft employees to be picked up close to their residence and dropped off at their work place. Unlike the Microsoft Connector, in which only Microsoft employees can use, RidePal is open to all commuters and is able to be spread via word-of-mouth. As a company in early development, this seems to be their referral strategy thus far.

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