Operations

Ride App Widens Reach With Legal, Licensed Chauffeurs

Posted on April 14, 2016 by - Also by this author

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Blacklane has expanded its U.S. presence in recent years along with its connection to the national chauffeured transportation industry. Pictured (L to R) at the 2015 International LCT Show in Las Vegas are: Carsten Kahner, director of affiliate management; Hector Santillan, affiliate manager/Americas; and Christian Berndt, head of affiliate management/Americas.
Blacklane has expanded its U.S. presence in recent years along with its connection to the national chauffeured transportation industry. Pictured (L to R) at the 2015 International LCT Show in Las Vegas are: Carsten Kahner, director of affiliate management; Hector Santillan, affiliate manager/Americas; and Christian Berndt, head of affiliate management/Americas.
Blacklane has taken a more solid approach to near-demand transportation by combining a real-time independent contractor model with app-based reservations, duty-of-care standards, and professional chauffeurs.

Going Global
Blacklane (www.blacklane.com) now reaches 190 cities worldwide, and added the Las Vegas market to its metro roster in February. The service is not an instant demand ground transportation app per se, such as Uber or Lyft, but it can get a vehicle to a client in about an hour to an hour and a half depending on local availability.

The Berlin-based company has been on a growth spurt during the last two years as it widens its market footprint far beyond Europe to 50 countries. Two-thirds of its clients are business travelers while one-third are leisure travelers. Although it doesn’t disclose total number of partners, it estimates access to “tens of thousands” of chauffeurs and fleet vehicles worldwide and claims “a few thousand” U.S.-based partnering companies and chauffeurs.

“We have a program to help our partners grow their business that follows our standards,” said Carsten Kahner, Blacklane’s director of affiliate management. “Our main goal is to establish long-lasting relationships and we want them to have consistency.”

Chauffeur Checks
As part of its vetting process, Blacklane keeps a database of all federal, state and regional-level rules and regulations that apply to limousine companies. Every chauffeur partnering with Blacklane, whether independent or employed by a limousine company, must submit documents verifying driver and vehicle licenses and insurance coverages. The Blacklane team cross-checks those documents and conducts background checks on applicants. It interviews prospective chauffeurs and puts them through a multi-step training program based on its global standards for chauffeured service.

Operators and chauffeurs partnered with Blacklane may choose when, where and how often they wish to designate excess fleet inventory or downtime to Blacklane. They are in control 24/7.

Adam Parken, director of communications and public relations, and Carsten Kahner, Blacklane’s director of affiliate management.
Adam Parken, director of communications and public relations, and Carsten Kahner, Blacklane’s director of affiliate management.
Runs & Rates
Once Blacklane receives a reservation request, available affiliated Blacklane chauffeurs “bid” on the ride, with the rate rising every few minutes until a chauffeur deems it profitable and accepts it via the app. That explains why Blacklane requires at least a one-hour minimum lead time for reservations. It’s not just about finding the right vehicle and getting it to clients in time; it also allows chauffeurs to choose to accept the rides at locally flexible rates in real time.

“They have the freedom to accept rates, whether higher or lower,” Kahner said. “We offer them incremental rates and revenues. It’s an independent business model where our providers have their own business and already are successful with their customers. We bring them additional rides and customers.”

Blacklane’s compensation split varies by city and season, said Adam Parken, the director of communications and public relations. “For example, drivers are more willing to accept rides at lower rates in off-peak times, while they have higher rates during peak season.” 

All-in rates for clients are fixed and include taxes, fees and gratuities. The reservation-formatted app does not allow users to see how many vehicles are in the vicinity, as with the Uber app. And although a client also cannot see a vehicle headed to a pick-up location, Blacklane sends clients text updates about pending pick-ups and chauffeur information.

Fleet Vehicles
Blacklane tiers its service into three levels: Business Class, Van/SUV Class and First Class, with varying rates:

Business Class, the most common service level, includes vehicles such as the Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT Town Car, and Cadillac XTS livery sedan.
SUV Class includes the Lincoln Navigator SUV.
First Class mostly offers BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans. Outside of the U.S., Blacklane’s Global Service includes Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans.

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