Technology

Exclusive Smartphone Apps For Limo Operators

Martin Romjue
Posted on November 1, 2011

The explosion in smartphone use is radically changing how clients access and use the Internet. So much Internet access now comes from smartphones that service-oriented businesses are scrambling to meet the demand via unique mobile applications.
In the chauffeured

transportation industry, 2011 marks the year the industry got serious about mobile apps. Led by innovator Limos.com, a handful of key providers have rolled out mobile apps while other vendors and some operators are either experimenting or rolling out their own branded apps. Below is a quick round-up of key apps that have developed throughout the industry. This list will be updated further in future technology coverage in LCT Magazine and on LCTMag.com.


Limos.com
www.Limos.com
San Francisco
The industry app evolution is being led by online lead generator Limos.com, which first announced its app in February at the 2011 International LCT Show. The app’s newest feature, a mutual chauffeur-client tracker, was scheduled to be fully operational in October. One of the highlights of this app is the driver locator function that allows clients to find their chauffeurs on digital maps. It uses GPS and the signal from the client and chauffeur phones to show their relative locations, represented by client and chauffeur icons. A chauffeur also can use the “find my passenger” function to spot clients, which can prove particularly useful during pickups at busy airports with limited curbside access and waiting times. The app also features “limos ground control” to help organize runs and check-in for runs.


The Limos.com app went live for iPhones on May 15 and for Androids around July 15. Its other key functions enable business and leisure travelers to search and compare prices for chauffeured vehicles, and then book them for easy curbside pick-up in cities worldwide. Regardless of location, app users can see pictures of available car types and compare prices side-by-side on their smartphones, laptops, and/or mobile browsers. Of the seven million visitors projected for Limos.com this year, about 1.5 million, or 17%, are coming from mobile Internet browsers, up from 3% in 2010.

 


Pinpoint Pickup
Ride In Style
www.pinpointpickup.com
Redmond, WA

  • Customers book rides through the app and receive reservation details with cost quotes before confirming (iPhone version allows users to choose destinations by pulling addresses directly from contact list).
  • Reservations on-demand or booked in advance.
  • Operators pay only a referral fee. Percentage varies by market. Clients should contact Pinpoint Pickup to discuss city-by-city details.
  • International operators may have different needs, and Pinpoint Pickup is willing to discuss and explore ways to meet those needs.
  • Multiple notification methods and options for billing timing.
  • Sign up at www.pinpointpickup.com/operators.
  • Available on iPhone, Blackberry and Android.
  • Serving Seattle, Los Angeles, Orange County (Calif.), San Francisco Bay Area, Las Vegas, Tucson, Ariz., Boston, Dallas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York City.
  • Coming soon to Chicago, Washington, D.C., Portland, Ore., Boise, Idaho, Jacksonville, Fla.

Pinpoint Pickup co-founder Desiree Phair says the program was created by the owners of the company rather than a “middle-man designer.” Operator input during the app design phase and keeping in constant touch with operators helps the company “continue making things as user-friendly as possible.”


 

 

Applying Apps
Danny Bacher of Atlanta-based Topper Worldwide told LCT that apps are not necessarily important from a corporate client’s perspective. “It’s worth the investment for retail work, but corporate clients usually have their assistant or travel agent go into the portal that’s in place to book their reservation,” he says. Topper Worldwide has embraced new technologies and runs entirely on web-based/cloud systems, from vehicle tracking to reservations, and was among the first to incorporate Fusion L hybrid sedans into its fleet. — Michael Campos


 

GroundLink
www.groundlink.com
New York City

  • Available only on iPhone/iPad but coming soon to Android.
  • Integrated into KAYAK travel-search app.
  • Customers input pick-up and drop-off locations, time and date, select desired vehicle from a list, review charges, and confirm trip.
  • Displays closest services available based on the time and date the client needs to be picked up.
  • GPS tracks chauffeur enroute.
  • Serving all 50 states and 110 countries.
  • Quality assurance program reviews feedback from company’s electronic monitoring systems and examine customer ratings for operators from each transaction.
  • Operators can sign up at http://vendors.groundlink.com/affiliates/new.
  • GroundLink bills passengers and transfers payments to operators.
  • Exclusive "Ride Now" feature for New York clients.

 


Ownersite.com
Ownersite Mobile
www.Ownersite.com
Roswell, GA

Ownersite Technologies, developer of web-based maintenance management solutions for small- to medium-sized fleets, released its mobile edition on Aug. 31 free for all Ownersite.com subscribers. Ownersite.com so far has a native, downloadable app for Androids, and is working on a native one for iPhones and iPads. Meanwhile, users of mobile Apple products can access a browser-friendly version of the Ownersite.com app.
The Ownersite Mobile app gives users and drivers direct access to the Ownersite.com vehicle records and maintenance management information for their vehicles, allowing them to enter data on vehicle servicing (both scheduled and unanticipated), fuel purchases and other information from the road. Integration with geolocation services will reduce data entry for trip logging, fuel, and maintenance stops by automatically capturing the event location. Additional features include setting user access policies, automating maintenance alerts to drivers, capturing trouble tickets from the road at the time they occur, and generating mobile reports that show administrators which records are being entered by drivers. Ownersite founder Steve Eppinger told LCT that the largest group of adapters so far have been limousine clients. Of Ownersite.com’s small- to medium-size fleet customers, about 150 are chauffeured transportation companies, with two thirds of those already using the app, he says. “To have the whole service history there when it’s time to get the maintenance done, you are saivng money because you are not paying for an air filter or services you don’t need.”

Click here for a demo of the Ownersite product.



 

1-800-GET-LIMO
Limo Mapping
www.join1800getlimo.com
Carlsbad, CA
1-800-GET-LIMO provides operators with ready access to a group of affiliates sharing a common nationwide network. Each operator who signs up gets the phone number plus the extension for the area code and is the only operator in that system with that area code. The company, which so far has about 100 chauffeured operators in its network, is beta-testing a Limo Mapping feature accessible via smartphones. The app-like tool combines Google Maps with GPS to enable clients to track their vehicle(s) in real time, says CEO Mark Adkins, adding that the test version is “1.0,” not yet “2.0.” A Google Map is embedded in a link that is e-mailed to the client. The service is free for clients, and entirely optional for 1-800-GET-LIMO-affiliated operators. “People are going online on the mobile web to such a great degree you have to think in terms of mobile devices,” Adkins says. “It’s not just about mapping; mobile web is where the real growth opportunity is taking place.”


Uber
Uber Driver
www.uber.com
San Francisco

  • Customers book ride via Uber iPhone app, Android app, or SMS.
  • Operators looking to fill their downtime and add revenue through Uber system must complete a stringent application process to be part of Uber database, after which they receive an iPhone from Uber that comes pre-loaded with Uber Driver app.
  • Ride quality rating system allows passengers to rate drivers and vice versa, and operators who receive low reviews are cut from the system.
  • Uber Driver app notifies an operator when he has a ride request, which he can accept or decline. Customers receive confirmation through their phones with chauffeur’s location and estimated time of arrival.
  • 20% gratuity is built into the fare, and Uber receives a 20% farm-out rate.
  • Serving San Francisco, Seattle, New York City (pickup/drop-off in New Jersey and Connecticut so long as corresponding pickup/drop-off is in New York), and Chicago
  • Coming soon to Boston and Washington, D.C.

“Uber works to complement operators rather than compete with them,” says Ryan Graves, Uber general manager and vice president of operations. “We have a very intense application and screening process to ensure our operators provide the highest quality of service.”

 

Related Topics: Limos.com, mobile applications, mobile technology, Ownersite, smartphone reservations, smartphones

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