LAS VEGAS – Operators who are considering investing in limousine industry software should initially think small, limiting their investment until they have a better understanding of how the technology can best serve their needs.
The software programs currently available to operators from most vendors will successfully perform a variety of tasks, including scheduling trips, handling billing, providing management reports for operators and their corporate clients, and processing Web site bookings, noted Apurva Patel and Gary Goldberg, executives with GT3, in presenting a workshop at the LCT Show here.
The key to buying and successfully using any system, Goldberg said, is to “identify your needs, what it is you’re trying to accomplish and then find what works best for you.” Goldberg also stressed the need for operators to talk to other operators before and after making any investment. “Software is very complicated and you’re always better off getting help from others,” he said. “Any [software vendor] should readily put you in touch with [operators] who can share their experiences.”
Limousine software should improve vehicle utilization and provide better tracking of drivers, reduce the number of billing, tracking and other errors, provide more timely billing and collection and provide useful electronic connections with affiliates.
The software systems currently being sold by GT3 and its competitors can also enable reservationists to process more orders quicker and more accurately, the GT3 executives noted.
Limousine operators may consider themselves to be in the business of transporting people but they are truly in the business of collecting, analyzing and disseminating information. Goldberg cited the examples of Fedex and online banking, noting that both have increasingly led clients to expect that they will have access to real-time information through the Internet.
“You are expected to know where your drivers are at all times,” Goldberg said. “You must have this type of information at your fingertips so you can anticipate the customers’ needs and have readily available and accurate answers for them.”
The speakers also noted that travel agents, who have been battered with the elimination of most airline commissions, are increasingly looking to add limousine and luxury transportation bookings to their portfolios. Agents rely extensively on software systems and the Internet for making reservations, tracking travelers and generating reports for clients. Limousine operators looking to forge relationships with them need to have software that integrates with these travel industry systems.
Frequent rider and passenger profile management tools and access to airline flight tracking technology are not only increasingly important to many corporate clients but also can improve a limousine operator’s productivity and save money.
In addition, corporate clients increasingly expect their limousine operators to be able to provide reservations, billing and management reports through the Internet, the speakers noted.