Ola adds an in-house tours and activities option for customers
Indian taxi app Ola will train its drivers to become tour guides as part of a tie-up with tourism authorities in the state of Maharashtra.
Maharashtra is India’s third largest state in terms of size and with the second most populous with more than 100 million inhabitants. Its state capital is Mumbai.
Using taxi drivers with local knowledge as a tour guide is a familiar global concept. What Ola and the tourism body have done here is to formalise the relationship. The concept will be marketed as part of the existing “Mumbai Darshan” initiative.
Ola will help driver partners “develop skills and learn more about the famous landmarks of Mumbai, including history, and culture, among others.” The tours on offer via Ola will based around a 10-hour or 100 kilometre circuit that takes in 10 of Mumbai’s most famous attractions, and can be customized by the passengers.
The taxi app operates in eight other cities in the state, and plans to expand its tour guide operations to include all these cities. In 2014, nearly 13 million domestic and international tourists visited Maharashtra.
Officials said that the tie-up was part of not only its push to expand Maharashtra as a tourism destination but also to position the state as “smart”, in terms of its overall positive approach to digital and technology.
So while a state in India with 112 million people is embracing taxi apps, a country in Europe with 60 million has banned them. Ola’s seal of approval is in stark contrast to Uber’s recent court defeat in Italy.
Also of note is that Ola’s entry into the sharing-economy based tours and activities sector is not that far removed from Airbnb Trips. The difference between an Ola driver becoming a tour guide and an Airbnb host becoming a tour guide is negligible. If any Ola drivers in Maharashtra are also Airbnb hosts, things could get even more interesting.
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Martin Cowen is contributing editor for Tnooz and is based in the UK. Besides reporting and editing, he also oversees our sponsored content initiative and works directly with clients to produce articles and reports.
For the past several years he has worked as a freelance writer, specialising in B2B distribution and technology.
Before freelancing, from 2000-2008, he was launch editor for e-tid.com, the first online-only B2B daily news service for the UK travel sector.