Chauffeured transportation operators must mine the rich media opportunities online to gain new clients and remain distinct from competitors, the CEO of Limos.com told the opening session of the International LCT Show.
"The Internet is the number one source of information for affluent customers buying things online," said T.J. Clark, CEO of San Francisco-based Limos.com, a global online chauffeured vehicle reservation and information service.
The new Limos.com website is extremely consumer oriented, mirroring many of the features found on Expedia.com, which is the second largest travel agency in the world, Clark said.
AS IS THE case with popular travel and hotel reservation websites, members of Limos.com upload content about their services that are featured on the site. This provides a more conventional experience for site users who need to compare services and vehicles, Doug Anderson, vice president of Limos.com, later told LCT. That’s why Limos.com and similar sites do not allow click-thrus to other sites, since such a setup would actually take customers away from communicating with the operators.
“Click-thrus are like a waterfall — the more you have, the more customers fall off,” Anderson said in the follow-up interview. “The more clicks a customer has to do, the more likely they are to leave the process. Our focus is on tools, starters of the thread. Once it goes from customer via our site to the operator, they are in contact directly.”
In an economy increasingly driven by Internet commerce, Clark said operators must:
• Demonstrate your value: Why should affluent users choose you?
• Evaluate your volume: How is customer traffic? Are you growing at an “Amazon.com” pace?
• Profitability: Are you getting enough of the right customers in your service area?
While outbound web links aren’t available, Limos.com prominently displays an operator’s name, email, and phone contact information on the site; emails it to clients; and features direct customer-to-operator messaging tools. A key partner benefit is that once an operator makes a contact or books a customer, the operator get the opportunity to retain that customer for life.
Limos.com data shows that operators offering robust photos, videos, and creative text on Limos.com achieve the best results. If an operator’s best content is not offered on its profile, customers won’t hunt for it by going on to their website. Customers will take the best offer that is easiest to book, which 70% of the time, is not the cheapest, Anderson said.
Limos.com resembles such sites such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and American Express in that it has a standard content format that doesn’t allow click-thrus, but differs from them in that it offers multiple direct contact methods between operator members and customers, Anderson said.
NETWORKING AND INFORMATION
The meeting also allowed current LDC members to network face to face. LDC has hosted an operator forum since it launched, and the forum is home to some 4,500 members who share marketing and mechanical information, and glean daily news updates from around the world that center on limousines.
Online Usage Trends
Internet users in households making:
$250,000 or more, spend an average of 27 hours per week online;
$150,000 to $249,999, average 25.1 hours per week, and
$100,000 to $149,999, average 21.8.
Each affluent segment spends markedly more hours with the Internet than with TV and radio, figures show.
The Stats on Limos.com
As of February, Limos.com served about 1,700 operators worldwide. About 70% of its reservations and leads activity is driven by retail, and 30% by corporate and airport clients.