Page 1 of 3
This year would have to be dubbed the chauffeured transportation industry’s “Year of the iPad.” The sheer simplicity of use and ability to multi-task at low cost are persuading an increasing number of operators to invest in the tablet computers. Operators are free to ditch communication devices rapidly becoming old-school and the reams of newspapers and magazines cycled daily through chauffeured vehicles.
Sami Elotmani of Destination MCO in Orlando expects a full ROI of about two years on the 40 iPads being used in his chauffeured fleet.
The benefits of iPads and tablet computers are most noticeable at the chauffeur-level: You can hold it up as a sign with client names, use it to communicate with dispatch, and hand it to a client to read publications or browse the Internet while in the vehicle.
The best thing about the iPads is access to all the information,” says Sami Elotmani, director of affiliate relations for Destination MCO, a 58-vehicle company based in Orlando, Fla. “[Chauffeurs] no longer stop by the office to get paperwork. They have access to reservations, their trips and signs, notes, flight information, and types of jobs. They have access to everything.”
Destination MCO is using about 40 iPads among its chauffeurs. The iPads also help meeting planner clients and their greeters avoid paper manifests. Planners can update manifests in real time as attendees arrive and depart, Elotmani said.
At Allaire Transportation in Farmingdale, N.J., the iPads were being implemented in the 35-vehicle fleet throughout September for a rollout, President and COO Jeff Hitt says. Allaire will place 30 iPads in its sedans and SUVs; its five buses will offer Wi-Fi hotspots for clients to use their own devices. The iPads are integrated with a Livery Coach mobile app that enables chauffeurs, managers, and employees to access the company’s software system at any time.
“The iPads have a dual purpose; we’ll use them as a chauffeur tool and as something we can give to customers to use to enhance their experience,” Hitt says.
Operator Barry Beall was facing a tough decision last month: Go with the iPads, the HTC Evo tablet, or the Samsung Galaxy tablet?
Tablet computers provide far more flexibility and capability than cell phones, smartphones, Blackberrys, and two-way push button devices, says Barry Beall, owner of Phoenix-based First Class Executive Limo. As of Sept.30, Beall had been trying out an HTC EVO tablet and a Samsung Galaxy tablet for two weeks on loan from Sprint. Each one is assigned to a chauffeur.
A key advantage of the Evo and Samsung tablets are their 7-inch screens. “The reason we are looking at these two devices is they are the smaller ones and fit in the inside pockets of the chauffeurs’ suit jackets,” Beall says. “The downside is in using them as signs at the airport because they are a bit smaller. We’re working through these things to see if we’re going to like them.”
Beall has been using his personal iPad somewhat for business purposes. He was planning to decide by the end of October which of the three tablet computers he will buy for his seven-vehicle operation. First Class runs on the LimoAnywhere software system.
“One of the things my guys are doing is they log onto dispatch system [via DriverAnywhere mobile device] and use their codes to update their statuses,” Beall says. “They get work assignments out of there. They can look at each run individually, or make a manifest for that day. It puts all their trips there and to see what’s coming up.”
Another feature the chauffeurs at First Class like is the ability to log on at any time to check their payroll summaries, which provide updated accountings of how much money they’ve made in the current pay period, Beall says.