NEW YORK CITY — New technology development in the fragmented and mainly offline ground transportation space is garnering the interest of procurement professionals whose companies spend a lot of money in this category. The hope is that new and maturing suppliers including Groundrez and Ground Travel Technology may further enable consolidation and better purchasing management. "It hasn't happened because there's no ubiquity" of systems, said T2Impact analyst Timothy O'Neil-Dunne. "Now, it's a little different, and the technology is not that difficult to integrate."
Chauffeured transportation tends to represent just a few percentage points of travel spending, but can be much higher for financial and professional service firms with large operations in Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, where the use of these vehicles is most prevalent. Rates, meanwhile, are on the rise.
Some such firms may have affiliate relationships with each other or the larger providers through networking organizations, but technology to link them — such as GT3’s TranspoNet and FleetBook's FarmManager — has only recently emerged. Other challenges to centralized purchasing include the one-to-one relationships some chauffeured transportation suppliers have with corporate executives and the unpredictable nature of business travel. Moreover, reservations system providers have limited ability to access content from all key players, due to lacking technology or ownership rivalries. The phone remains their greatest competition.
New player Groundrez, meanwhile, just launched a "pop up" booking option for users of Sabre's market-leading GetThere self-booking tool, with plans to include parameters for policy controls and preferred suppliers, and tracking of the reservation's purpose. One GetThere customer that books 500,000 ground transactions per year has been trying to get a handle on its purchasing by digging through card reports, said a GetThere executive. Groundrez also is tooling up to address airport parking, taxis and rail, as well as car services.
"Ground is one of our initiatives for 2007," said Fair Isaac Corp. director of procurement Bob Steiner. "The good thing is that the technology is a lot farther along than it was three years ago."