MaaS Conference 2020: How to make MaaS attractive for travelers?

By 23 March 2020Blog

MaaS Conference 2020: How to make MaaS attractive for travelers?

On March 3rd, 2020, various mobility providers and other interested parties gathered at the MaaS Conference in Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam. The event was centered around discussions about Mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) challenges, interesting presentations about inclusivity and interactive sessions like ‘speed dating’ with other mobility professionals. INFO was there to gain more knowledge on MaaS for travelers: how do you reach this vast target group and how do you foster a (permanent) change in behavior?

One of the presentations that resonated with me was hosted by Matthijs Dicke-Ogenia (Advisor Behavior and Mobility with Goudappel). Companies claim that they “take the wishes of the users into account,” says Dicke-Ogenia, but in reality, they’re still designing for the masses.


MaaS Congres Amsterdam 2020
MaaS Conference 2020 Amsterdam | © Verkijk


Design for the individual

When talking about MaaS, users expect a personalized service, which meets their individual demands and that matches their personal travel plans. However, to realize MaaS, ‘mass’ is needed and that’s why many companies choose to design for the masses first. Because of this, they tend to forget to create a service that also has individual value and that is focused on meeting the personal needs of individuals.

Focusing on the individual (the consumer) is hard and comes with a lot of challenges. The expectations of consumers are high (a seamless customer journey), and most consumers pay for their travels themselves and also expect a reasonable price.

Additionally, it’s hard for mobility providers to tend to the needs of individual customers because Mobility is an “emerging industry“. Due to this, there has been very little (relevant) research on MaaS, according to Dicke-Ogenia. He says that there are only a few research programs/pilots that do provide useful insights, among which are the pilots by UbiGo and SMILE.

Dicke-Ogenia also refers to the Dutch research ‘Meer zicht op MaaS’ (More insight into MaaS) by Toon Zijlstra (Dutch Knowledge Institute for Mobility Policy), which he presented during our Mobility Breakfast. This research shows that autonomy, added value, reliability, availability, and flexibility play a large role in convincing travelers to use MaaS. At the moment, there are still too many parts of the (public transportation) system that are not up to speed yet. Because of this, commuters still prefer to own a car, which makes them experience a sense of freedom. Especially in emergencies, people prefer to have a car to fall back on.

Research report

Download - Vision on Mobility: En route to 2050


Researching MaaS is difficult

Researching MaaS proves to be difficult. Dicke-Ogenia, therefore, wonders how reliable existing research really is: participants usually don’t really know what to expect from MaaS or it’s the early adopters (the ‘yuppies’) that take part in the pilots. According to research by KiM, early adopters are the most promising target group for MaaS. But are these ‘young urban professionals’ representative of the ultimately broad group of users?

Because people mostly don’t know what to expect from MaaS, researchers tend to use a research method called ‘stated choice’, in which participants are confronted with several options they have to choose from. Researchers then agree that if a participant chooses ‘A’ instead of ‘B’, they can draw a certain conclusion. The question is to what extent those conclusions match the reality.


Avoid unreliable pilots

Because researching MaaS is so difficult, many parties quickly decide to continue the design process and just start building the product. Then they test the product, measure, learn from the results and iterate further on the service. This involves the following challenge that Dicke-Ogenia calls the Practice Test Paradox. Most of the time, the people that join a pilot are enthusiastic and curious, have a positive attitude, and would rather persevere than delete an app or cancel a service. Usually, the feedback from these enthusiasts is very positive and consists mostly of “low hanging fruits”. Therefore, it’s not really representative of the whole target group that MaaS providers are trying to reach.


OV-fiets’ (public transportation bike) smart-lock pilot

An example of a pilot that sidesteps this situation is the smart-lock pilot of the OV-fiets by the NS (Dutch Railways), which tests the introduction of the smart lock. During the pilot in Apeldoorn, researchers didn’t look at a specific target group that uses the OV-fiets, but gave all travelers access to this new service. Samples and surveys were then used to gather more information and gain more insights. Does this mean Apeldoorn is representative of all locations in the Netherlands? I don’t think so, because it’s not comparable with large cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam. However, this form of validation does give the NS the possibility to scale up: by testing and iterating on the service with a diverse target group in a smaller location, they can easily adjust some things to make the service available in larger locations, such as Amsterdam Central Station, and then continue to learn and iterate. In which, in my opinion, it’s exactly the diversity within the target group that’s so important: everyone uses public transportation and the NS services, which makes making the service inclusive is paramount.


Slim slot pilot OV-fietsThe new smart lock has been tested since December during a pilot in Apeldoorn


Entice business travelers with Gamification

And how about business travelers? At ALD Automotive they try to encourage business travelers to use MaaS by using gamification. During his presentation at MaaS Conference, Meerten van Hooijdonk (Business Manager with ALD Automotive) talked about the impact of this approach.

On September 11th, 2019, ALD Automotive launched a pilot of the MaaS app Move, a mobility assistant that provides daily, personal travel advice, based on the user’s day planner. The pilot had 60 participants who were provided with their own personal mobility garage in the Move app. This ‘garage’ consisted of public transportation, e-bike, and some participants also had access to a lease car. Every day, they got personal travel advice based on their goals (both personal and business) and on their personal day planner. The customer service provided support through Whatsapp.


Move App by ALD Automotive


Reward good behavior

Using The Cycle of Change model, Van Hooijdonk showcased the participants’ process. The ALD Move pilot shows that gamification and rewards play a large role in changing participants’ behavior. Through the ALD Move app, the participants could earn mobility credits that were added to their mobility wallet. They were challenged to earn as many credits as possible. The participant with the most credits was allowed to drive a Tesla over the weekend.

The credits that participants could earn were linked to the goals of their employer. If an organization wanted employees to exercise more, they would get more credits for choosing a bike instead of the bus. Other goals could be encouraging CO2-neutral or more productive travel (working during the commute, etc.).

Of course, winning a Tesla for the weekend is not really scalable and is also not of added value for everyone. That’s why ALD Automotive wants the credits to be redeemable for other mobility products in the future. Consider, for example, exchanging the credits for a larger car during the holidays, while the rest of the year, you choose a more sustainable option. Employees with families usually pick a larger lease car, because they go on a three-week family vacation once a year. The rest of the year, this car mostly “drives around air,” according to Van Hooijdonk.

By the end of the pilot, ALD Automotive saw that 20% of the participants completely changed the way they traveled. 70% of participants tried different forms of transportation during the pilot. An interesting impact, driven by gamification.


More on MaaS

Is MaaS ready to roll out and attract a large group of users? For the speakers at this event, the answer is clear as day: not yet. There are still a couple of challenges that we have to overcome. My colleague Paul Versteeg also attended the MaaS Conference and discusses these challenges in more detail in his blog.

We see a great opportunity for designers to focus on the needs of the individual through design thinking and user-centered design in order to come up with innovative solutions.

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