NEW YORK — The start of many successful companies comes from just one question: How can I fill a need in this industry? Entrepreneur Alex Mashinsky, who saw room for technological improvement in the chauffeured transportation industry, had an answer to that question.
Mashinsky's company, LimoRes, developed the software system that provides immediate reservation, management, and tracking online. Since its launch in 2004, the New York City-based online ground transportation provider has grown to a multi-million-dollar company with more than 10,000 affiliates worldwide and large, exclusive clients.
The appeal for affiliates to join LimoRes is the access to work worldwide. "In this bad economy, you want to have access to as many jobs as possible," Mashinsky says.
Mashinsky says LimoRes often negotiates a lower price due to the volume that it can promise a company. Standardization of policies helps affiliate companies avoid miscommunication about issues such as wait time at airports. Less or condensed paperwork is ideal for companies with affiliates in locations where work is rarely requested.
The LimoRes technology is offered to all of its affiliates. "We white-label all these services for these operators, and they can instantly look like a multi-million-dollar technology company," Mashinsky says. He adds that there are 20 full-time programmers on staff.
LimoRes' exclusive ground transportation contracts with Delta.com and Jet Blue give affiliates a new client base that they didn't have access to before. The partnership, launched a year ago, means that LimoRes is shown as the exclusive provider of ground transportation on these companies' Web sites, securing more work for its affiliates.
Mashinsky says it took considerable effort to get the accounts. "The main thing for them was the trust factor, the one-stop shopping, the ability to order instantly," he says. LimoRes' ability to respond instantly to customer changes and requests was a large factor in getting those clients, he believes.
Mashinsky stresses that it's the smaller and medium-sized companies that benefit from a system such as LimoRes. "It empowers little companies that don't have the technology or the capabilities to compete with the big guys, to be global, to be technology-efficient," he says.
How LimoRes Works
For end users, the appeal of the LimoRes technology lies in its immediacy, ease of use, and customization. Reservations can be made, even on the other side of the world, as little as an hour in advance. They can be taken in seven different ways that include email, outlook appointment invitation, forwarding travel itinerary to LimoRes, and others.
Client profiles consider the types of vehicles a company wants to use or, if desired, a higher level of service for certain executives within the company. An iPhone application takes mobile reservation a step further by knowing the location of the client and a client's favorite locations.
Affiliates are sorted through a ranking system, determined by the level of customer service shown to clients that they are sent, their price, and how much work they send back to LimoRes.
Those with high rankings are often sent the best clients. Operators wishing to boost their rankings, which can be checked online, can either lower prices and deliver excellent customer satisfaction, or send more work to LimoRes. "It's mutual and transparent. It really has to do with how you're performing," Mashinsky says.