Smarter Predictions with Europcar Mobility Group

Europcar Mobility Group uses Dataiku to power innovative data strategies in the car rental sector for better forecasting, pricing, and field/capacity management.

Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and more than a billion people annually take to the road or to the skies to travel for tourism (while some tens of millions do the same for work). Indeed, today’s world is one in constant motion, but it’s also one where trends are clearly shifting.

For example, McKinsey predicts that by 2030, private cars will be used less, and autonomous shuttles could account for a quarter of passenger-kilometers. This kind of rapid change in passenger trends and habits – not to mention shifts in environmental concerns – necessitates more than ever before that mobility companies use data and AI systems to better understand and help their customers (as well as, eventually, to predict the future of travel to make the best possible business decisions). 

This is the story of Europcar Mobility Group, who has been able to do just that by transforming their approach to executing data-driven projects at the company. 

  • In business since 1949, Europcar has built a strong car rental network and is now a global mobility service provider.
  • Europcar offers traditional car and truck rentals through several brands (including Europcar and Goldcar) as well as new mobility services through brands like Ubeeqo, the leading car-sharing service. Other activities include scooter sharing, peer-to-peer car sharing, and driver services.
  • The group operates in 130 countries.

Challenges

We spoke with Guillaume Giard, Airline Market Manager of Europcar international, to better understand how the company has been able to use machine learning and advanced data strategies for better forecasting, pricing, and field/capacity management. 

It’s worth noting that the business is already growing in all sectors (from cars to new mobility), because of an existing combination of initiatives to digitalize, reduce costs, and innovate to scale up. However, Europcar Mobility Group was facing specific challenges regarding car rentals at airports and the ability to accurately predict fluctuations in demand based on changes in the market; for example, the International Air Transport Association – IATA – predicts that routes to, from and within Asia-Pacific will see an extra 2.35 billion annual passengers by 2037. 

“Our group sees more than 50 percent of its turnover of rental cars at airports, so you can see how getting predictions about how many cars need to be where at what time of the day, month, and year is critically important for the larger business.”

– Guillaume Giard, Airline Market Manager | Europcar International 

In order to start tackling the problem, Europcar wanted to build an application using data from different sources (both public and private), including fleet traffic and passenger volume, reservation and billing data, data on opening of new airline routes, and more. This presented another challenge, as the data comes from different places and is in different formats, but is also massive in volume.

Teamwork and Solution

Given these challenges, executives at Europcar Mobility Group assembled a dedicated team composed of different experts throughout the business, including analysts, IT, and the head of forecasting. The group was tasked with collaborating to build a solution that allows the company to make better decisions regarding the purchase and movement of vehicles between airport hubs.

Given the cross-functional nature of the team as well as large volumes of data they planned to use (dispersed across several databases), the Europcar team needed to build their solution in a tool that was collaborative and flexible. Additionally, they sought to build a solution that would forward the democratization of data science throughout the organization – not just for this single project, but planting the seed for wider and smarter data use throughout the company.

Ultimately, Europcar leveraged Dataiku to build a predictive web application (web app) as well as dashboards that:

  • Forecast activity by country
  • Suggest optimized fleet distribution
  • Define revenue and capacity management (RCM) strategies

“The important thing for us was ultimately having a tool that allows us to make use of important data while leaving out useless information. We chose Dataiku because it’s a platform for business users who have little knowledge of data science as well as for technical profiles, so it allows us to immerse ourselves in machine learning and predictive projects with a cross-functional team.”

– Guillaume Giard, Airline Market Manager | Europcar International 

Importantly, the data and the web app as well as dashboards are shared with everyone, from top management to analysts. This illustrates the company’s progress and overall larger commitment toward data democratization.

Impact

The company’s recent initiatives to use innovative data strategies in the car rental sector for better forecasting, pricing, and field/capacity management had the following business results:

  • Better availability of vehicles at stations.
  • More dynamic pricing structure.
  • Overall better process management resulting in less customer waiting.

Europcar Mobility Group can now flexibly adapt their operations, as they are able to anticipate line openings in airports, allowing them to adjust the staff, the vehicle fleet, and the parking space required to respond correctly to demand.

They plan to continue to tweak and improve existing models created as a part of this project as well as create new dashboards. As a next step, they will work on automating data injection and improving the data quality overall by collaborating with even more departments to track down additional data sources.

“We’ve successfully moved from a word-of-mouth strategy when it comes to making decisions and information access to a solid, reliable, source of truth to which everyone (whether technical or not) has access. Now, we’re all on the same page, and we’re able to make even better decisions.”

– Guillaume Giard, Airline Market Manager | Europcar International 

But beyond this particular project, Europcar has successfully started their path to enterprise-wide data use. There are additional teams who will start to use Dataiku on their own projects with the end goal of bringing real, tangible business value.

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