In today?s hi-tech world, new technology is being released almost daily. It is practically impossible for a business owner, whether large or small, to keep up with the new innovations. Technology has played an increasing role in the way that the limousine industry conducts business.
Ask any coachbuilder what their greatest challenge is, and they will often say that it?s keeping up with technology. Limousine owners want the newest and most cutting-edge equipment available, because their clients and their markets are demanding it. Chauffeurs and operators alike want to provide their clients with the best service available.
To be successful, limousine operators also need to run their businesses more effectively and more efficiently. They are becoming more and more dependent on advancements in technology in order to help them do so.
As one can imagine, halfway through the year 2001, many products and services have been released, with many more on the horizon. Here?s a look at what?s out on the market today.
Service is the Key Let?s face it; computers are about as common as televisions. This is especially true in business. Whether it?s an accounting or a reservation program, software is a necessity for limousine operators. Some new programs and services were recently released at the LCT Show in February.
One common trend can be seen by the many programs and Web-based services that have been created to work as a ?one-stop shop? for you to maintain your business.
?One of the things that we?ve found in doing our studies is that the key requirements in booking any kind of travel, especially for corporate customers or people traveling on business, is that they want a ?one-stop shop,? says Mark Kenny, president of Genisys Reservation Systems. ?They want to go to one place to get all their answers.?
The Genisys system is an example of the one-stop method for clients to book their ground transportation needs. This system operates with limousine operators through a large network of travel agents.
?Travelers can go from beginning to end, and the travel agent does everything along the line,? Kenny explains. ?What they [operators] get at the end is a complete, automated reservation form that has everything that they need to know to successfully complete the trip.?
Genisys recently partnered with Sabre Travel in an effort to expand its services to a larger amount of travel agents.
Another company that is continually striving to provide a ?one- stop shop? is InterRide, which recently acquired TranspoNet. InterRide provides an Internet-based, real-time reservation system, which allows for one-stop shopping. It consists of proprietary online, real-time reservations and a back office accounting system.
?InterRide is a series of Internet tools through which your customers connect to your business,? says Dan Sharry, the company?s vice president of sales and marketing. The acquisition of TranspoNet will bring together a number of services, which InterRide claims will allow a traveler to do more at one place on the Internet.
?InterRide?s acquisition of TranspoNet accelerates the rate at which car service companies and corporate travelers will be able to utilize online reservation and business systems while, at the same time, minimizing the transition challenges typically encountered when new systems come to market,? says Nick Athanasiou, InterRide?s CEO.
The new service will not only combine the services of both InterRide and TranspoNet, but also with LimoWare software system and C.A.R.S., a reservation, dispatch and accounting software suite. InterRide is still in the process of consolidating the two companies, but predicts no drastic changes to service or support.
Another ?one-stop company? is Aleph Computer Systems and its service ehail. Ehail is a Web portal that connects ground transportation customers with your system?s back-office programs. This means that customers can request transportation online through the use of your Web site, which Aleph will host for you. The request will then automatically be routed into your computer system, and allow you to schedule trips, dispatch drivers and bill the customer quickly.
BlueNexus Software Corporation, makers of LimoNexus, created LimoOnline, a Web reservation tool that plugs into your Web page and allows customers to book trips online. It works in a similar fashion as ehail, but BlueNexus does not host your Web site. It works with your site, and allows customers to make changes to their trip request.
However, as the operator providing the service, you have the ability to approve or deny the trip and/or any changes the customer might make, all online.
Qsent introduced iQlimo this year. It?s an Internet-based reservation system, which in addition to the companies? iQtaxi, allows consumers to enter their travel requests from their computer, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or Web-enabled phone.
Software, Software Everywhere In addition to the one-stop shop on the Web, some software developers have created desktop software that can provide one-stop service for all of your in-house needs.
The programs vary slightly, each offering some unique features. However, since they are not Web based and do run off your hard drive, you should assess the computer needs of your company before purchasing one of these software programs.
Also, make sure that you understand the computer system that you will be using the new program on. You should know what platform you are running (Windows, Macintosh, Linux), what version you are running (Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT) and approximately how much memory you have available on your hard drive. New software can help your business run more efficiently, but it still relies on the operator to run it.
Here?s a look at some of the new and more popular desktop programs that are available. JLS Trip Tracker?s Limousine Management Software is a Windows-based program that has been around in the industry for a while. It keeps records of reservations, vehicle maintenance history, multi-passenger trips, airport return trips multi- vehicle trips, scheduling grids, dispatching invoicing, payroll, commission payments and farm-in/farm-out business. The program is bundled with
Intuit?s QuickBooks software, which allows you to generate your business? sales reports. Limousine Management Software released its LMS Gold for Windows. This is an integrated program that allows you to....see LCT magazine for additional information!