F. Mazzella (BlaBlaCar): “Once the relationship is established, video can replace travel”

How can BlaBlaCar inspire business travel?

Frederic Mazzella: BlaBlaCar is, in the end, a better use of modes of transportation so that everyone who allows sharing of use goes in this direction. Anything that increases the filling of means of transportation – this is already the case with some of them, wherever there are free spaces, there is optimization to be found.

BlaBlaCar is in 22 countries, are you a big business traveler?

Not so much. When we expanded around the world, in 2012-2013, we equipped our various offices with videoconferencing equipment, allowing us to organize meetings in all four corners of the globe with the impression that are on the same side, precisely to reduce displacements. Travel and real encounters are important in starting a relationship: within a team, with clients or colleagues. Once it is built, we will be able to travel remotely with good efficiency and save travel time.

The Bla-Bla Car is a solution that is less suitable for long distance business trips. On the other hand, it may be suitable for everyday business trips. Is that the case?

Yes, to meet this commuting need, BlaBlaCar Daily is now available for daily morning and evening trips. On average, the average distance is about twenty kilometers to Ile-de-France, and nearly forty in the provinces. There are 2.5 million people registered there. There has been a clear increase in this activity in recent months linked to a number of factors: already, of course, a continuation of post-pandemic travel and especially due to rising fuel prices. With petrol at € 2 per liter, sharing travel costs has become a reflex. In addition, the “classic” BlaBlaCar has also benefited from this increase: our volumes are now much higher than pre-pandemic levels. Users are driven by financial rationality and not just energy savings … Even if behind financial savings, there is energy savings, that’s kind of the beauty of the model.

Will teleworkers, and remote teleworkers in particular, find a special offer? And what about this trend within your company?

No, there is no special offer for remote teleworkers because the ease of use of BlaBlaCar is such that the classic offer is suitable for all types of use, including repetitive ones. About our internal organization, orYes, we have a lot of people telecommuting. The occupancy curves of our area depend on the day: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are busier than Monday and Friday. So we have a hybridization at work. Some employees are “remote only” and are recruited as such. This makes it possible to find people anywhere and not just near our area, which is interesting in the context of the talent shortages in the technology professions. After all, the challenge is to create, maintain and nurture a strong corporate culture of people who don’t meet very often.

How do you see the future of business travel?

You have to think about professional relationships around the world: there are emails, phone, video, travel. Visio tools that allow more advanced interactivity are involved in travel, which seems obvious to me. So there are fewer. And obviously this is a good thing about the environmental impact.

Now you will spend part of your time helping young entrepreneurs. How?

Yes, I spend a lot of time at France Numérique, the largest association of this kind in Europe, which brings together 2,000 startups and 100 VCs (venture capitalist, investors, ndr). I am the co-president (since 2019, editor’s note) to help these companies individually by sharing a lot of knowledge to prevent everyone from reinventing the wheel on their own. But also by doing a synthesis of what this ecosystem needs to develop better, by talking about it with decision makers and regulators.

Is the movement well represented there? Do you have, in this field, the name of a promising start-up to give us?

Yes the movement is very there, and it makes sense: we are all in it, we use it a lot, in all its forms – daily, occasionally. A favorite? There are many, but if I quote some I can forget others, I don’t want to. But I assure you that there are many startups in France that have very good products in this area.

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