Grab cuts back on customer discounts and driver incentives but says users still getting good value

The incentives and promotions have been "trending down", but that this took place even before the company's acquisition of rival Uber's South-east Asia business, said Grab Singapore head Lim Kell Jay.
The incentives and promotions have been "trending down", but that this took place even before the company's acquisition of rival Uber's South-east Asia business, said Grab Singapore head Lim Kell Jay. ST PHOTO: LEE JIA WEN

SINGAPORE - Ride-hailing company Grab said on Monday (May 7) that it has been rolling back its discounts for customers and incentives for drivers, but maintained that users are still getting good value on its platform.

Grab Singapore head Lim Kell Jay told the media that incentives and promotions have been "trending down", but that this took place even before the company's acquisition of rival Uber's South-east Asia business two months ago.

Mr Lim did not say when this started but that it has "been a while".

Driver incentives and customer discounts were strategies employed heavily by both Grab and Uber - who had been locked in a battle for market share before the latter's exit - resulting in both firms burning through their investors' funding.

Customers, for example, could enjoy $5 off a certain number of rides, while drivers would get a bonus monetary amount for completing a target number of trips.

For passengers, Mr Lim said, the company has shifted towards a reward system - in which customers earn points for taking Grab rides. These points can then be exchanged for other goods and services, such as fast food or airline flier miles.

"The discounts you get from your Grab rides are still there. You just need to redeem them from the rewards catalogue... I personally believe it's more exciting that way, rather than just promos," Mr Lim added.

 

"With promotional codes, some (customers) get them, others don't," he said.

As for its private-hire car drivers, Mr Lim said the company monitors their income very closely, before it reduces the incentives given.

"We make sure the fares they earn continue to grow, basically giving them as many jobs as possible within the same amount of time," he said.

To help drivers reduce costs, Grab has partnered petrol companies for discount schemes, and worked with rental car firms to offer drivers competitive leasing rates, Mr Lim added.

On Monday, Grab announced three new products on its app: a GrabAssist service for elderly riders and those with reduced mobility; a GrabFamily service for families with toddlers aged between one and three; and a GrabCar Plus service which offers customers newer cars and top-rated drivers.

Grab is also beta-testing a GrabFood food delivery app, which it plans to launch later this year. This will replace the UberEats service, which it bought over through the Uber acquisition.