Stanley Baudu (Virtuo): “We want to be accessible on SBT from all TMCs” – Travel Professionals

Co-founded in 2016 by Thibault Chassagne and Karim Kaddoura, Virtuo is a short-term car rental company, 100% dematerialized and contactless. Its latest fundraising allows it to confirm its ambitions, and in particular to ensure its expansion in Europe and to electrify its fleet. What about the corporate segment with this new generation rental company? Stanley Baudu, the manager of Virtuo for Business, the platform dedicated to companies, provides an update for MovementsPros.

How is Virtuo doing?
Stanley Baudu: We are well. We have even recorded growth in our activity in recent months, despite the Covid. And it is true that contactless car rental has advantages, with our smartphone application allowing you to unlock your car, without a physical key and without a counter. No need to queue in an agency anymore, it also saves time. Trying Virtuo is often adopting it! The satisfaction rate of our customers is 92%. Today, our product is our best word of mouth. We don’t need to do big marketing campaigns. And that is also why we have recently succeeded in attracting investors.

You indeed raised 80M € last May

These funds will be used to increase and electrify our fleet – now made up of 3,500 vehicles – as well as to establish ourselves in new countries in Europe. We are present in France, United Kingdom (London), Spain (Barcelona, ​​Madrid) and since this year in Italy with Milan and perhaps Rome in 2022. And we are launching Germany – with Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt – and Switzerland – Geneva – next year. For the following years, we look to Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.
What does the corporate segment weigh at Virtuo?

It represents 10% of our activity today. We hope that this percentage will increase to 30% by 2025, as soon as we are available on all TMC tools. We have also succeeded in winning over investors with the promise of revolutionizing car rental on the business travel side. Today, 60% of French people live in metropolises where the public transport offer is substantial. The transformation from a logic of ownership of a vehicle to a logic of use concerns first of all the rental of individuals. At the same time, however, it will also be valid for companies. What is the point of owning a company car if you live in a city? We know that the transition will take time, in particular because of this statutory notion associated with the company vehicle. But this change is inevitable and is part of the logic of Credit Mobility which is becoming widespread …
How do you intend to increase the share of corporate in such proportions by 2025?

Today, we have around 500 clients, only SMEs, which can book through our platform. But we know that 90% of SBF120 companies expect us to be accessible on SBT. And this is also the reason why TMCs started to show interest in Virtuo. We have just won the Orano (ex-Areva) call for tenders which uses the tool of a large TMC with which we should enter into a partnership before next June. We are already present in the SBT of The Treep, and soon available on the tools of TravelPerk, Notilus, Carbookr, Egencia… We hope to be present one day in all the SBTs one day. Integration into these tools will revolutionize Virtuo’s approach to business travel.
Let’s come back to the strengths of your offer for the business traveler …

I am not dwelling on the advantages of a contactless rental. An important point for some customers is the guarantee of having the model of car they have reserved. In the business segment, another advantage is the guarantee that the vehicle is available. Our cars are all connected to our system. And we know exactly when they are available or not. It is also for this reason that we appeal to assistants, a large car rental market in the corporate segment. Since last April, we have also been offering the delivery of the vehicle at home or at work. This service is now operational in London, Madrid, Barcelona and Milan. It already concerns 10% of our customers. And we are further improving the offer by currently testing requests made at least 4 hours before handing over the vehicle, compared to 24 hours today. Next year, this service will be offered …
What are the other advantages offered by Virtuo for Business?

Corporate customers have access to additional services such as negotiated rates, centralized and detailed invoicing and even dedicated customer service. Always to improve our offer on the corporate segment, we strive to integrate ourselves from end to end, in particular by adding expense report management, with Mooncard and Concur Expense. The more we simplify the daily lives of travelers and travel managers, the more chance we have of being chosen as a supplier.
The big rental companies have an enormous advantage, they are present everywhere …

And this is not our case indeed. Our goal is not to replace them. We are positioning ourselves as a complementary rental company. And it will last at least five or ten years. But we are gradually lifting the geographic barriers. We are present in all major cities. Our ambition is to do so, in particular at all airports and stations in regional capitals. This is not yet the case: we are found in most stations but not always in airports. It also depends on our choices. Traffic, for example, is relatively limited at Bordeaux airport. These tradeoffs also explain why we have succeeded in proving to investors that we are on the path to profitability.

Karim Kaddoura (left) and Thibault Chassagne, co-founders of Virtuo
And having parking spaces at airports may not always be easy …

There are sometimes barriers to entry to have parking spaces, as part of calls for tenders. But airports are indeed the only real places where it is potentially more complicated. Digital rental companies sometimes come after traditional rental companies. Parking spaces can be a real issue. In some airports like Lyon, we are present in the airport parking lot. In Roissy, Orly, Toulouse and Nice our cars are parked in hotel car parks. And we bring the car to the drop-off at the terminal where the passenger is, against a surcharge of 15 euros. The customer thus collects his car without having to wait more than five minutes. And since we are dematerializing the experience and do not have an agency, we are removing the € 30 tax from stations and airports.
No physical agency and no tax at stations and airports … Is this reflected in your prices?

Yes indeed, our prices are very competitive. Travel buyers tell us that they save 20-30% with us. Because we include all services and there is no overcharging.
What types of vehicles do you offer? What about the electric car?

Like any rental company, we buy all types of vehicles, new and which we operate for six months. Our goal is to have 15% electric cars in 2022, 50% in 2025 and 100% in 2030. This is part of our eco-responsible approach. On this point, I would add that we are going to offset 100% of carbon emissions in the context of corporate rentals. Finally, I would remind you that we take charge of calculating CO2 emissions …

Virtuo finalized last May a fundraising of 80 million euros, including 50 million in the context of a fundraising initiative supervised by Axa Venture Partners, with Large Venture (Bpifrance), Alpha Intelligence Capital, H14, and the shareholders. Balderton Capital, Iris Capital and Raise Ventures, and another 30 million obtained from Natixis and several establishments of the BPCE group.

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Stanley Baudu (Virtuo): “We want to be accessible on SBT from all TMCs” – Travel Professionals