When Doug Anderson worked for Les Concierges, a B2B concierge service loyalty platform, he had difficulty finding ground transportation for his members. They never wanted to pay the price points of the major networks and it was hard to find local providers for where the clients travelled to or lived. He couldn’t understand why there wasn’t an easy-to-use, searchable Internet destination where one could compare and book car services as for hotels and airlines.
Then, Anderson got a call from CEO T.J. Clark, whom he’d worked with on the startup team for the travel website Hotwire.com. Clark had a lead on a business called Limos.com.
“The light bulb went off, like, ‘Ah hah!’ this is needed, this is a good idea,” Anderson says. “There wasn’t a great organization for supply or a marketing platform for suppliers based in different areas, so when the opportunity came, I knew it was a no brainer.”
Limos.com chief product officer Doug Anderson is moving the online referral service into many new avenues of virtual exposure for its 2,000+ operator clients.
Anderson, Clark, and some other Hotwire.com startup team members took over Limos.com in 2008 and began building the world’s largest online marketplace for chauffeured car service.
Limos.com now has more than 2,000 service providers in more than 15,000 cities worldwide. Chauffeured transportation companies are rated from three-star to five-star elite so consumers can expect the service level they’ll receive. Client feedback on the site can make a company move up or down in rating.
“We’re trying to help consumers understand that there are different service classes, like hotels, and these lead to a variety of price points,” Anderson says. “Car service and hotels are not commodity items. There’s a major difference between Days Inn and the Ritz-Carlton, and a difference between riding in a black car in New York and a luxury car in Chicago, and we want people to understand that.”
The company has several major innovations in the works that will create more opportunities for the chauffeured transportation industry, including opening up new ways for operators to do business with Limos.com that are non-lead based.
“It’s our mission to be the largest online marketing platform for local providers, and I believe 2012 will be the Year of the Local Operator,” Anderson says. “Two billion people around the world use the Internet and 97% of them use it to research local service. We want to promote the brands of local providers and generate more business for everyone.”
One way Limos.com helps local operators is through its mobile app V.2, which will be launching in its beta form in San Francisco by April 30. The app will retain the original features from the first version but will include a new on-demand service option so clients can book a ride and get picked up within 15-20 minutes of the reservation. On-demand service will still be pre-arranged by definition, but it shortens the time window that it takes to pre-arrange a ride.
“There’s no question that a good number of suppliers in every market want to provide [on-demand] service to their consumers,” Anderson says. “Every fleet has downtime and they want to keep their cars busier.”
Limos.com is developing and expanding its open API (Application Programming Interface) so its corporate travel partners, such as Delta, Marriott and Amtrak, are able to use the platform to connect their customers and travelers with the companies on Limos.com. “Just between our two recent partnerships with Concur and Orbitz for Business, there are over 12,000 businesses that we’re in the process of converting into Limos.com users,” Anderson says. “We’re helping our local providers get matched up with businesses and get their accounts. If you look at Orbitz, you won’t see the Limos.com name anywhere. It’s the actual brands of our operators that are on there.”
Working with local operators and helping them build their own business through the platform is at the core of Limos.com’s success. Its relationships with local operators and corporate partnerships present an opportunity to grow the industry again overall, Anderson says, as more consumers — retail, leisure and corporate — start to see the benefit of accessibility to local chauffeured vehicle service.
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