Freenow Freenow for Business launches Mobility Budget, to extend its coverage to commuting and personal travel

Why did you launch Mobility Budget in France late last year?

Benjamin Giovanni – There are several reasons. We became a multimodal platform in 2021. We cover several modes of micro-mobility in the major cities where we operate. In Paris, we are the only one to offer the services of two self-service electric scooters. We have just integrated Dott, and we were already partners of Tier. We also offer Cooltra self-service electric scooters and Sharenow self-sharing electric cars. Not to mention Dott’s electric bikes, which we’re integrating this month. So we are truly a multimodal platform today. These two years of crisis have led to new mobility habits among the French, especially in cities. There is a strong demand from residents and therefore from employees to use micro-mobility. It was also a question of responding to the needs of companies that want to stand out, to reinvent themselves in terms of the benefits offered to their employees. Recruitment and retention of talent have become crucial to the success of some companies, especially in the technology sector. It is therefore important to offer innovative benefits and to take into account the well-being of these employees. That’s why we launched the Mobility Budget, a monthly allowance to be offered to employees for all their personal travel and commuting. As a mobility player, we had a role to play, as mobility is one of the top five benefits offered to employees today. 79% of companies have integrated the well-being of travelers into their policy. 49% of employees give priority to an organization that protects their health and well-being. The Mobility Budget is just that: an innovative, rare advantage that will enable companies to offer their employees a mobility advantage to improve their well-being, while strengthening their positive employer brand image and reinforcing their CSR policy, since part of our services concern soft mobility. Positioning ourselves in the field of personal mobility for employees
was therefore an obvious choice, because we really have something credible to offer that appeals.

So this is a new HR argument?

Benjamin Giovanni – Exactly. We position ourselves on the advantage offered to the employee. FREENOW for Business

has always been a solution to facilitate business travel. And now, for the first time, we are going to allow the company to also position itself on the personal travel of their employees. We are changing the field, we are no longer only addressing purchasing or travel managers but alsoi to HR, adding a new string to their bow.

Precisely: who are your contacts? The mobility manager, human resources, a CSR manager?

Benjamin Giovanni – These different professions are increasingly linked, even if it depends a lot on the size of the company. Sometimes there is a person in charge of CSR initiatives in the company, but more often it is a fundamental subject that each business line deals with. We are rarely confronted with a person in charge of CSR in the company, even if it is now integrated in travel policies, purchasing policies… At FREENOW, we have made a public commitment to be 100% net zero carbon by 2030, with a commitment to 50% by 2025. In the meantime, we offset the carbon footprint of non-electric vehicles every year.

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What types of companies and employees does your offer target?

Benjamin Giovanni – To all companies, especially those that put the well-being of their employees first, that face big challenges in terms of recruiting and retaining talent, and that need to differentiate themselves with new benefits. Because it’s about mobility, there is more choice in large cities, where there are alternatives to the private car. As far as employees are concerned, there is no particular target, as the changes in habits concern everyone, just like the CSR ambition.

What does the Mobility Budget mean in concrete terms for the company and for the end user?

Benjamin Giovanni – From the employee’s point of view, it translates into a new payment method directly integrated into the FREENOW application. Once the user has chosen his mode of transportation to go from point A to point B, for example a VTC for a 20km home-work trip, a bike or an electric scooter for a shorter trip, he will simply use the Mobility Budget provided by the company to pay for this trip, without having to advance any expenses. From the company’s point of view, the Mobility Budget takes the form of an administrator space, where the monthly or annual budget allocated to employees is defined. It is a very simple and quick tool to configure. It can also be adapted to the travel policy, by putting such and such restrictions on certain modes of transport, even if the aim remains to offer the user a maximum of choice and freedom in his personal time.

So personal travel is at the heart of this Mobility Budget?

Benjamin Giovanni – We already cover business travel, for more than 30,000 clients in Europe who trust us. This is our core business. With our new service, we provide a benefit that allows employees to pay for their personal travel. The company goes further by extending the offer to personal travel, thus reinforcing the employer brand image with the provision of soft mobility means. And this takes into account commuting needs between home and office, considered as professional or personal trips depending on the company. As we have seen, peopleThe crisis has changed the situation in this area, and many employees want to use bicycles more often, for example to get to the office. The Mobility Budget will take this into account. In commuting, there is also the Sustainable Mobility Package, legally defined up to 600 euros per year per employee, to encourage soft mobility to come to the office. The Mobility Budget can be integrated into the Sustainable Mobility Package, but also goes further, by including personal travel.

Mobility BudgetWhat was the driving force behind the launch of Mobility Budget: the crisis, the arrival of the mobility credit, environmental awareness?

Benjamin Giovanni – It was a combination of these different parameters. Our approach stems from the changes that have occurred in recent years in the field of travel, with the arrival of new alternatives in the city. Telecommuting has slowed down commuting, but people still travel, at least in their personal lives, and there is a desire to return to face-to-face work within companies. The Mobility Budget is also part of the alternatives to public transport, which may have been shunned for health reasons in favor of the new alternatives I mentioned, which are more and more in demand.

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How does FREENOW fit into the company’s CSR policy?

Benjamin Giovanni – In addition to promoting various sustainable micro-mobility solutions, the company can value the use of a player like FREENOW, which has made clear commitments in terms of carbon emissions. In addition, we support companies by providing them with data on their carbon footprint according to the different modes of transport they use via FREENOW for Business. This can allow them to reward employees who have opted for virtuous behavior. We are also setting up CSR challenges with some of our clients and we also give them the choice in the way we offset our carbon footprint with them.

How has the crisis impacted your vision of the market and your priorities?

Benjamin Giovanni – The crisis has of course impacted the VTC business, while accelerating the use of soft mobility. These changes are also linked to the growing awareness of CSR, and to a lower use of public transport, sometimes at the request of the company. In short, the crisis has accelerated the transition to micro-mobility.

So it has reinforced your ambition?

Benjamin Giovanni – Yes, absolutely. We already had the will to impose ourselves as a MaaS platform, multimodal, which responds to the needs of employees according to their needs, the distance of the journey, the weather. This is why Kapten joined Freenow: to become multimodal, to extend our coverage not only geographically – we are now present in 16 countries and more than 150 cities – but also to offer different modes of transport and to always complete this service offer. We are also integrating different partners by mode of transport. We will thus add a second partner for electric bicycles, as well as for electric scooters and car-sharing. It’s about completing our multimodal offer as much as possible.

What is your long-term vision for the integration of public transport?

Benjamin Giovanni – It will already be a matter of presenting the different possibilities available to the user to get from point A to point B, with travel times, fares, all within a single application, with a single payment method, and a single loyalty program.

Does Mobility Budget interface with the travel policy?

Benjamin Giovanni – Yes, the tool can be integrated with the travel policy thanks to this administrator interface that we provide to the company. The company can define the services made available, prohibiting for example the use of scooters for commuting. Since the Mobility Budget covers personal travel, there will be fewer restrictions. The aim is above all to offer freedom to the employee. On the professional side, the FREENOW tool obviously adapts to the company’s mobility policy, which can impose time or geographical restrictions, for example for the reservation of VTCs or electric vehicles. We also have an added value on the support of companies, with dedicated contacts for the setting of their account.

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Will the offer evolve in the future?

Benjamin Giovanni – We are developing it in different ways. The goal is to make it ever more intuitive for the user; we are constantly working on our UX. We are constantly expanding the range of transportation services we offer, and the number of partners, to provide a complete multimodal service. We are also listening to customer feedback to improve the tool thanks to our team of developers throughout Europe.

What is the roadmap for Mobility Budget in the coming months?

Benjamin Giovanni – It will be about adding more and more partners. We do this almost every week in different cities in Europe. This makes life easier for business travelers, who can, with the same application, book their transportation in Paris with one partner, and choose another specific player in each of their destinations, since the players are not the same in each city. Travelers don’t necessarily know which application they should download to book a particular vehicle when they arrive in London or Munich. We do this work for them within our application, to simplify their travel. That’s why we are constantly expanding the number of partners and cities covered.

Micro-mobility: employee habits and expectations in figures

  • 45 minutes: the average time spent commuting by French employees
  • During the crisis, 75% of Europeans had to travel for business purposes: 79% for commuting, 39% to attend a meeting, 30% for an event, 19% for a trip abroad
  • 1 French person out of 2 has cchanged their travel habits in favor of more sustainable mobility since the beginning of the health crisis
  • Following the pandemic, 38% of companies plan to abandon public transport in favor of taxis/VTCs
  • 29% of working people in large cities believe they could save time by using cabs and VTCs or scooters or shared bikes to get to work
  • 40% of employees would like to use electric or traditional bicycles for their commute to work, and 37% of business travelers would use them to get to their meetings
  • In large cities, 77% of French people are in favor of setting up a mobility credit. In 4 out of 10 cases, this would encourage them to give up their company car

Sources: YouGov survey (September 2021), ITM Top Priorities Survey 2021, Michael Page, FREENOW for Business micro-mobility survey