*Note to Readers: This is the second of a two-part series focused on how technology is transforming the chauffeured transportation industry.
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — “There are two types of operators right now — operators who say it’s time to pivot, and operators still in denial because business is a little better right now.” — Tom DePasquale, Founder, Ride Charge
The above warning to operators sounded by Tom DePasquale during his address on May 19 at the LCT Leadership Summit reverberated throughout the three-day annual event regarding the industry’s reacting — or lack of reaction — to the wave of transportation network companies (TNCs) muscling in on ground transportation.
The industry is now “at the inflection point” to change the way it does business because TNCs have forever eliminated any previous travel dividing line between business and retail private transportation, DePasquale said. “The market has spoken. Today, it’s about ‘I want you to give me a ride. Come get me now but also let me know we are confirmed for 5 a.m. tomorrow. Pick me up when you said or let me at least see where you are. If I want a ride later, give it to me. My phone knows where I am, so should you. I want to pay you and I use your cars a few times a week and when we arrive at my destination I just say thank you and exit.’”
DePasquale asserts that the combination of advanced booking and on-demand will rule, pointing out that technology companies such as Uber will become more predictive combining advanced reservations and on-demand service.
“If they know they have 40 cars available at 8 a.m., they can set aside some of those cars for advanced reservations and still have plenty of cars for on-demand service,” he noted. “Where we see the inflection point today is that you now can get four levels of transportation service in 200 cities that is exactly the same in each city, and that’s hard to argue with,” he added, referring to Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and emerging TNCs. “Anyone still arguing that retail and corporate business still exists hasn’t looked at the hotel and airline industries because we are now seeing the same thing happening in the transportation industry.”
“The market has spoken and it’s time to pivot,” said Tom DePasquale, addressing attendees during his session at the 13th Annual LCT Leadership Summit
DePasquale asserted that it’s time for technology vendors to step up now and deliver the industry a type of “Star Alliance” network app that operators can join rather than rely on their own mobile app to compete. He underscored that operators should stop arguing how business worked two years ago “because two years from now the business will be completely different,” he said.
“One of the things we hear from operators is the pride they have in their name and brand. But take Marriott for example, they don’t own the hotels just the brand … so we create the ‘root word’ and get that network service. As an industry we create a brand, and franchise that brand while still supporting your corporate accounts. I say joining a network is far more important that having your own app because users do not want a lot of apps … they want apps that meet their needs,” DePasquale added.
Regarding his call for a single branded solution, DePasquale said the goal of such a network would be to have broad availability (pooling vehicles) where both corporate and market rates apply that fully supports a rider’s ground transportation needs, including: bounce payments, advanced booking, multiple bookings, bookings for others, and administrator supported bookings.
Often overlooked in the debate of limousine companies versus TNCs is the fact that more people are now taking more rides. “It’s not that current ridership is being divided up because now there are more riders in the market for transportation. That’s a great opportunity for us.”
One of the points DePasquale stressed during his presentation was the need for operators to change the way they do business. “Do you have the technology and brand that will make you a global competitor? I would argue probably not.” He suggested that operators need technology that supports both customers and the driver. “Corporate reporting has to become more standardized and you can still continue the reservation business as long as you want as long as your focus is in the on-demand business,” he advised.
Given that technology will keep driving further into global transportation, operators must ensure that their business is technologically optimized to participate in a network and provide service in an on-demand world — no matter the size of your operation.
Operators who want to stay ahead of the technology curve can tap multiple resources. Here is a sample list of technology vendors and suppliers that serve the chauffeured transportation industry. The May issue LCT Fact Book contains a complete directory of industry vendors and suppliers.
200 Addison Rd.
Windsor, CT 06095
Product summary: DriverSchedule manages the schedules of multiple chauffeurs and drivers. The product eliminates the need for juggling spreadsheets, notes, and calendars. This system allows a company to set their schedules and assigns their work (or shifts) based on the availability of their driving staff. The product allows operators to customize the program to support whatever availability parameters (specifications) you wish, and each employee simply logs in and updates it themselves.
FASTTRAK Cloud Technologies
4123 Venetia Way
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
(602) 770-8600 • (800) 533-6440
Product summary: FASTTRAK Cloud Technologies is a supplier of cloud booking and dispatch ground travel management applications. While the company provides on premise software solutions in the traditional LAN network structure, its cloud-based solutions offer an alternative to some of the problems of maintaining a server room and related infrastructure and costs. This new cloud solution offers opportunities to only pay for the services used as businesses expand or contract in size due to their own efforts or market influences.
One Kalisa Way, No. 113
Paramus, NJ 07652
Product summary: GroundWidgets develops applications for the ground transportation industry services and solutions that include back office software systems, mobile solutions for chauffeurs, agency and corporate booking connectivity, GPS fleet tracking, and safety and accident avoidance solutions.
Limo Anywhere Inc.
17218 Preston Rd., No. 4200
Dallas, TX 75252
(972) 701-8887 • (888) 888-0302
Product Summary: Limo Anywhere is a complete reservation and account management system designed specifically for small- to mid-size limousine operators. The product offers real-time payment processing, flight tracking, online reservation system, multiple GPS systems integration, and more.
2213 N Green Valley Pkwy., 2nd Flr.
Henderson, NV 89014
Product summary: LimoLive24 is a dispatch/operations center operating 24/7/365 within the limousine/transportation industry. By accessing an operator’s livery software and working simultaneously within its custom CRM application, LimoLive24 provides an efficient and productive line of communication between offices, employees, drivers, fleet, clients, and affiliates.
Livery Coach Solutions
1530 McDaniel Dr.
West Chester, PA 19380
(610) 296-7800 • (877) 898-7800
Product summary: Livery Coach Solutions provides Business Management Software to operate limousine offices. It handles every reservation from initial entry to pricing, sending a confirmation, scheduling the chauffeur, calculating the price that a particular client pays as well as the pay that the chauffeur earns for the ride. Livery Coach is a client/server application.
200 Addison Rd.
Windsor, CT 06095
Product Summary: RateButler.com is an Online Affiliate Network Management system allowing companies to expand their businesses by forming relationships with similar industry businesses throughout the world. Created by companies who already use an Affiliate Network to provide products and services around the globe, RateButler.com organizes and manages the information about each of these companies. The product keeps track of contact information, rates, specific instructions, expiring insurance, and more.
5904 Old Richmond Hwy., No. 340
Alexandria, VA 22303
Product Summary: Sedan Magic provides ground travel technology for sedan fleets and corporations. Sedan Magic Dispatch is used by fleets to manage dispatch, billing and booking for over 10,000 vehicles nationwide.
TripTracker Ground Transportation Management Software
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
(888) 333-5439 • (856) 424-3854
Product Summary: TripTracker provides back-office software that includes reservations, dispatching and accounting for ground transportation companies. The product seamlessly integrates with other transportation software, networks and applications to provide one management system to operate your business.
3131 Elliot Ave., Ste. 200
Seattle, WA 98072
Product summary: WAVE Connections turns smartphones or tablets into network independent push-to-talk devices for instant and secure mobile communications. Users can push-to-talk with any other device over 3G, 4G LTE or WiFi network.