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Amy Harris, senior vice president and general manager of Deem Ground, is leading an effort to bring to market a viable, networked app for the chauffeured transportation industry. Harris, who appears on technology panels at LCT events, is pictured here at the LCT Show East in Atlantic City, N.J., Oct. 29, 2013.
LOS ANGELES — When Uber announced in late July its For Business service aimed at business travelers, a collective chill shuddered through the chauffeured transportation industry.
The announcement came during Uber’s first foray into the Global Business Travel Association Convention held in downtown Los Angeles, proving the growing upstart app-based Transportation Network Company (TNC) relishes its role as the enfant terrible of for-hire ground transportation.
Uber For Business is courting a core market of chauffeured transportation. It promises seamless booking, overall information transparency, the ability to accommodate team management of company travel, and more accurate e-billing and e-expense reporting via a partnership with Concur. Salesforce.com Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG, have signed up as clients of the corporate car-booking program while Barclays Plc (BARC) and online retailer Gilt Groupe Inc. are testing it.
A deeper look at market and client dynamics, however, reveals Uber’s service misses the mark in many ways that are better understood by corporate travel procurement officers, chauffeured transportation operators, and their collective technology travel vendors.
After all, corporate and business travel involves far more layers of assurances than those for urban dwellers or airport travelers standing along the street waiting for the closest ride. Into this breach comes an app from Deem which will be introduced into the market with some of its Fortune 500 customers during the first-half of 2015, says Amy Harris, senior vice president and general manager of Deem Ground.
Deem Ground, owned by Deem, Inc., is a major transportation technology provider connected to 30,000 ground transportation operations worldwide that offers unique solutions for corporations, booking tools and travel agencies.
How It Works
The Deem app, directed to corporations and their preferred providers, will combine advanced chauffeured reservations with on-demand technology — all from fully vetted, quality chauffeured transportation companies that meet regulatory, insurance and licensing standards, Harris says.
Taking advantage of Deem’s substantial IP portfolio, the sophisticated app will segment user information based on vehicle preferences, rates and service providers, all accessible and available in real-time with customer tracking of vehicles and communication with chauffeurs. The system also will generate complete end-to-end expense reconciliation and real-time reporting and integration into the user’s digital wallet for corporate clients with multiple tiers of travelers.
“Everything the limo industry stands for is what major corporations are looking for,” Harris says. “Their most important asset is their employees and getting them safely from point A to point B. That’s the most important thing for these travel managers.”
Advantages & Attributes
Adam Kupper, director of ground services for Deem, says the company’s new app will place corporate clients with their preferred vendors, giving them a far more professional and secure version of the Uber-type experience.
Rather than forcing corporate clients to retrofit themselves to a TNC platform, Deem’s app leverages its ecosystem of 17,000 corporate customers and 30,000 providers and seamlessly maps to existing corporate ground processes
“The first iteration will be for corporate customers who have preferred relationships, and comply with policies and rules,” says Adam Kupper
, director of ground services for Deem. “It will place them with their preferred vendors. It maintains those relationships and gives them an Uber-like experience with their preferred vendors and suppliers.”
Harris and Kupper explain that Deem Ground’s app will connect only those reputable, legal luxury chauffeured services that meet the high standards already common in that transportation niche:
- Provide legal duty of care, risk mitigation, and high levels of liability insurance coverage.
- Retain all the advantages of chauffeur training, sound fleet management practices, and regular vehicle maintenance.
- Rely on the already employed and checked chauffeurs as opposed to independent “onesies” retained by TNCs.