In the race for providing better efficiencies in ground transportation mobile apps, providers are rolling out new aspects and features that are getting results. Both in high-profile retail apps such as Uber, and in professional market tech providers such as DeemGround and Sedan Magic, the companies are taking customer feedback into account at quick rates and evolving their software.
One of the latest apps to hit the market is Carmel Limo App, available for iOS and Android. CEO Avik Kabessa makes a point to say that his mobile app fully complies with state laws. The largest complaint against many of the retail apps is that they have been skirting outdated transportation laws, most commonly in regards to the nature of the “pre-booking” that happens through real-time, geo-locating software.
The Carmel Limo App functions like Uber in that it uses real-time geo-locating, but the app also uses the same geo-location for entering destinations. That prompts a pre-determined fare for the different available vehicles in the area, creating a complete pre-book.
Carmel Limo partners with trusted limousine operations in locations nationwide and worldwide to provide vetted
Avek Kabessa, CEO Carmel Car and Limo, New York City
chauffeurs available to take runs requested through the app. “They all have to be fully licensed, otherwise we don’t deal with them,” says Kabessa of his affiliates. “Then we start vetting, and after we agree on them becoming Carmel affiliated. We give them our software and upload the drivers’ information into the system, and that’s how we start. We do a lot of ghost rides initially. And then monitor them on a weekly basis.”
Chauffeurs download the app and load their information into the system. When a chauffeur is dispatched, everyone is updated through the system, so the partnering operator is notified on every run. “We do not bypass the local company,” Kabassa says. “We work with them.”
The Next Generation
The Carmel Limo App uses a geo-locating feature similar to Uber and other ride-share apps.
The app itself has a number of unique features for a private transportation mobile app. It shows the types of available vehicles through picture, giving you the option to choose among them. Uber and most other rideshare apps automatically select whichever vehicle is closest available, and don’t provide many options for vehicle choice.
Another unique feature of the app is the geo-location function that can be used to quickly book a trip in advance.
If a client wants a car at his current location the following morning for an early flight, once he toggles past the location/destination, a quick-touch scheduler makes it easy to set the desired pick-up time.
Kabessa has been researching a mobile app for a few years. After seeing Uber make great headway in the city last year, he began the research and development for his own. He released an initial version in November 2012, and the latest relaunch in December 2013 took into account much customer feedback. Changes were made to accommodate different features.
One of the things most commonly requested from customers was coupons and discount options. A hot trend in digital technology today is marketing software companies through share campaigns, where users are offered more services, discounts, or credits for others they recruit into the software.
However, unlike most retail transportation apps which select whatever car is closest, the Carmel App offers a listing of available vehicles.
Connected Across Media
With social media connections and email plugins, companies have made this easier for clients than ever to get the word out about whatever software they’re using. Uber, for example, offers a promo code that can be shared at the touch of a button across many social media platforms. Any “friends” or connections online that enter the code get the initial sharer a certain amount of dollar credits on their account.
Carmel offers similar functions, with clients getting up to $66 initially on their credits (to be used in 20% portions per ride), and customers who share the Carmel App and get others to sign up are rewarded with additional credits. There is a one-touch share capability to make it easy for clients to broadcast over Facebook and Twitter.
Another popular request was for an emergency number as a second number. The Carmel app even can be set up so this second number can be notified by text anytime a ride is taken. It is a popular choice for mothers who let their kids use the app time to time for rides under approval, but not for anytime they want. Kabessa hopes to keep his partnerships with limousine operations in the 310 cities his company serves. Full compliance with laws is a mandate, and Kabessa believes that competing by complying wins the day in the end.
Coupons and promos for customers are shared easily across multiple social media.
One of the biggest frustrations for operators regarding Uber has been just the lack of regulatory enforcement from local governments. The technology was fast-paced and worked well-enough to get rolling into cities right away. And as everyone is catching up with their branded technologies, the software types themselves are evolving.
As for the future of the Carmel Limo App, Kabessa has not planned to license out the software. “Right now, I am a limo company with technology capabilities. The revenue share we have with these companies, plus the strong language in our agreement that we won’t solicit their drivers, make it beneficial for them to partner with us. It’s economical for them.”
For some operators, investing in their own apps could be viable, but for Kabessa, the partnership is more beneficial than organic app development. “Our hope is that they will remain partners with Carmel and promote us. As long as they do this, the chunk we give them is worth more to them than taking on the overhead themselves.”
Customers book trips for the time they want and for the destination they want, which can be synced up to calendars for reminders.