Dan Sutich is the founder and owner of Perfect Chauffeur, a customer and operations management system, and a member of the LCT Fast <40 Group. He can be reached at [email protected]
What makes the iPhone? Great hardware? An intuitive interface? These are factors, but they add up to little more than an expensive phone.
Apps make iPhone, and there are millions of them. How is this possible? The technology is called an Application Programming Interface, better known as an “API,” which is a set of specifications for how programs should interface with each other.
Tech giants such as Apple, Facebook, and Google, as well as smaller companies such as your GPS provider or flight tracking software all have APIs so that anyone can easily connect to their systems and harness their technology.
What does this have to do with the limousine industry? Everything.
Imagine a future in which your company has three different booking apps for your customers to choose from. You have an app for chauffeurs and even an app to dispatch from mobile devices. All of these apps integrate seamlessly into your reservation system. Data moves back and forth without any work on your end and these apps work with any reservation system.
As we travel deeper into this fantasy, we arrive at the perfect affiliate trip. Accurate rates are queried from the other company’s system, modified with an affiliate discount, and marked up to the actual rate for the customer.
This happens within seconds without having to pick up a phone. The trip is then sent to the affiliate who confirms it. Status updates are automatically sent along with the chauffeur’s contact information as it becomes available.
We should turn this fantasy into a reality by making a universal API for our industry. The API would provide a means for app developers and reservation systems to seamlessly communicate with each other. What will it cost? Why should it cost anything? Once it is developed, we only need to maintain it; the cost is trivial and can easily be covered by a tiny donation per operator.
We have an opportunity to grab hold of the future and steer it in any direction that we want. Help us make it happen. We need to get all reservation systems on board. Tell your software provider to participate in the development of the universal API. Call them, email them. If they do not want to get on board, find a system that does, because once the API is in place, well, your imagination can take it from there. My only advice: Dream big.