What separates a client from a brand loyalist?
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Each annual International LCT Show carries a distinct theme and delivers a package of trends, if you look closely. The industry gatherings may seem to blur together year after year, but a trip through each Show floor and multiple sessions provide an evolving picture.
Our most recent Show, the 30th anniversary edition, drove home more than any other that the industry and its business demands are at the mercy of technology, changing tastes and constant communication. We’re always plugged in and ready to change our minds amid so many apps and options for everything.
I try to spot some of the most innovative developments each year and recount them here:
1) Online Clients
The State-of-the-Industry presentation from Limos.com’s Doug Anderson underscored how much faster technology shakes out market dynamics. Anderson has been updating the industry on tech trends for at least five years. Since his first presentation in 2009, the number of Internet users worldwide has climbed from 1.6 billion to 2.4 billion, and will be at 5 billion in 2020. About 35% of business travelers are now of the Millennial Generation. That includes anyone 30 years old and under, whose lifespans have existed entirely since the famous “1984” Super Bowl ad for McIntosh. Mobile devices outsell PCs three to one. Anderson outlined convulsive shifts in the business/corporate travel industry, namely more ground transportation options with a more open, unmanaged travel movement spurred by all-the-time mobile apps. Limo operators need to be mobile friendly and embrace the ASAP clients, with a defined market, vision for growth, and plan for goals, he said.
2) Higher Maintenances
Nothing conveys the idea of instant, personalized technology more than a service that was demonstrated on the Show floor by Kristian M. Wanderaas from Padlet Solutions (www.padletsolutions.com). The company offers customized signage, all-browser downloadable apps from which limo operators can choose from logos, backgrounds and illustrations to create tablet-based electronic greeting signs and messages for clients. Of course, this can be done in seconds and communicates visual elegance and personal attention to chauffeured clients. Like the famous credit card says, that’s “priceless” for your marketing and image. Padlet also has created a limousine maintenance/inspection app that can note and document all mechanical actions, inspections and incident events associated with a fleet vehicle, accessible remotely 24/7 by designated chauffeurs and employees. It can send e-mails and notifications and even record uploaded mobile photos of any dents. The app can be customized and configured to a company’s parameters.
3) Feedback Frenzies
The emergence in recent years of Drive Profit (www.driveprofit.com) proves how social media and client feedback must be tended to 24/7, just like the limo operation itself. Social media experts Pat Charla and Jennifer Wong offer a menu of services that include monitoring of a company’s social media accounts to flag any complaints, comments and/or service issues; verification of client testimonials and management of a company’s reputation in real time; client surveys structured to analyze feedback on products and services; and a bonus rewards points program to incentivize repeat purchases. A client who wants all conveniences for arranging a limo ride will be the same client to instantly message about it afterward, for better or worse.
My Tech Tale
No experience captures must-now tech trends more than personal ones. For me, it’s about staying connected at trade shows. My evolution in many ways reflects the on-demand pressures wracking the industry:
When I attended my first International LCT Show in 2008, I carried notebooks and pens. I had a flip cell phone for the occasional call. No other electronics. For the 2009 and 2010 Shows, I brought notebooks, pens, my flip cell phone, and a laptop, but the laptop stayed in my room for posting an item or two and checking e-mail. By the 2011 Show, I had replaced my cell phone with a smartphone, and brought all of the above. By 2012 and 2013, I was posting to social media via my smartphone and carrying around the laptop to take notes at the sessions. The notebooks were reserved for show floor visits.
And this year: Notebooks, pens, laptop, smartphone and an iPad, all with me all the time. I had the shoulder pain to prove it. The iPad brought it all together for me: Photos, email, social media posts. The smartphone provided texting and old-school phone calls. The laptop served as a note-taker. As for my notebooks and pens, I still used them to jot a fleeting comment or fact, but I took fewer notes with them than ever before.
What’s ahead for the 2015 Show and beyond? I can only imagine: Writing with a stylus on an electronic pad that instantly converts to Arial font in a Word doc that automatically emails to my iPad, laptop and desktop at the office? Next decade: My virtually replicated robotic doppelganger taking notes in sessions and texting me updates while the real me visits and drinks at the casino?
And when an editor-less digital magazine finally serves a driverless industry with a virtual 24/7 trade show set up by software geniuses in India, I’ll know my gig is finally up.
What separates a client from a brand loyalist?
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