NOV. LCT: Product review - two leading systems provide a constant stream of information that can help operators wring out efficiencies.
Rental Limo’s new embeddable widget known as Book.limo has boosted the efficiency and profits of its client limo services. By transforming older online reservation processes into one much easier to use, conversion rates will soar along with booked runs.
Ryan Hilberth, founder and CEO of Rental Limo, believes in offering products and services that ensure an ROI, not headaches. After studying at the University of Florida in Gainesville, he started an Internet marketing and web design firm in the mid-2000s.
So where did limos come into the picture? When he was eight years old, a family friend chartered a limousine for him, his brother and sister, and their cousins for one of their birthdays. The courteous chauffeur took them wherever they wanted to go. “It left a lasting impression on me,” he says. When he and his best friend Keith Gaputis, Rental Limo co-founder and CTO, looked for an industry that needed their combined tech skills, luxury ground transportation rose to the top of the list.
Thus, Rental Limo was born in 2010 — around the time Travis Kalanick was starting UberCab. But there is a vast difference between the two companies. “The on-demand apps are trying to take out taxis and other for hire transportation,” Hilberth says. “We went to the core of the limo industry and started working with the NLA and LCT, going to all of the trade shows. We began networking with operators and really prioritized building relationships and supporting the industry above all else.”
The company’s commitment to the industry is apparent through the many local, state, and national organizations they belong to, such as the National Limousine Association (NLA), Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the Greater California Livery Association (GCLA), the Florida Limousine Association (FLA), the Greater Orlando Limousine Association (GOLA), and the West Florida Livery Association (WFLA). “We’re here to fight back against TNCs to prolong and hopefully secure forever this industry that feeds all of our families.”
Rental Limo vs. Book.limo
While the name Rental Limo may sound familiar, it’s important to understand the difference between RL and Book.limo. Rental Limo came first, similar to Priceline and Yelp but for ground transportation, offering chauffeured transportation nationwide where consumers can browse, compare and reserve a variety of different vehicles such as sedans, SUVs, stretches, Sprinters and buses.
Book.limo, on the other hand, was released in 2014 after the demand for the product grew apparent. “We had an influx of interest at the beginning when we first launched Rental Limo. Operators fell in love with our three step booking process. We had dozens of operators approach us and ask us if we’d ever consider offering our online reservation system to use as a white-label widget on their website,” Hilberth explains.
“We were quickly forced with the decision to do what’s best for operators’ businesses as well as ours, which was to empower limo companies with the ability to use our 3-step booking technology on their own website.” As such, Book.limo was born.
Time Is Money
Now that Millennials are officially the largest living generation, making this kind of technology available on your company’s website is a must for success.
“For the Millennial traveler, or even for the traveler who now has a different mindset because of Uber,” says Pat Charla, owner of limousine marketing firm DriveProfit. “Book.limo makes booking transportation almost as convenient and easy. There’s absolutely no question in your mind when you look at it what you need to do. The existing online booking tools are too cumbersome and require too much input for a first-time booker.”
Rick Versace Jr., director of business development for A1A Airport and Limousine Service in Boca Raton, Fla., agrees this is a big draw for customers and companies alike. “I believe all industries want to cut back on the time they normally use when clients call and have to go through a long, drawn out process. That’s why so many people now buy what they need on Amazon.com instead of going to the store or use Uber instead of calling up a taxi company. It’s just so much easier for people to go on without having to call or talk to anybody and do it themselves.”
Formula For Success
When you give clients what they want — in this case, a fast and easy to use reservation process — you begin to see results. “The reason why Book.limo was so important for operators is the conversion rate of antiquated reservation systems is miniscule,” Hilberth says. Naturally, people like to research before they make a decision that isn’t necessarily going to be cheap. These same potential customers are fickle; if your prices, vehicle types, and contact information aren’t apparent, they will leave.
Hilberth adds: “There are some systems where you send a thousand plus visitors to a website and maybe one will convert. Book.limo is built around taking a website visitor and converting them into a paying customer for a ground transportation company.”
“It’s not just about increasing your website traffic. If you can build up your traffic and increase conversion rate at the same time, there’s an exponential relationship now, which means a drastic increase in reservation quantity.”
1,000 visitors x 0.1% conversion rate = 1 reservation
10,000 visitors x 1% conversion rate = 100 reservations
This “formula for success” (see side box) is clearly working. Raphael Sousa, owner of SF Limo Express in San Francisco, went from operating a fleet of four vehicles two years ago to a fleet of 12 vehicles. “Once I got Book.limo, I started seeing a large increase in my online traffic conversion rate,” he says. When Sousa decided to add a Sprinter and a bus to his fleet, the widget continued to prove itself. “I regularly get bookings for the Sprinter, and people commit to thousand-dollar plus bookings. They are willing to reserve very large services through the Book.limo widget.”
For Sal Milazzo, CEO of Signature Transportation Group in Arlington Heights, Ill., Book.limo has increased online bookings by 100%. Wade Randolph, owner of Riverside Transportation in Baton Rouge, La., sees the same. “Our online reservations are way over 100% of what they were before. Before we started using Book.limo, we had almost no online reservations.”
The Bottom Line
Businesses typically aim to improve their bottom lines by growing revenue and increasing efficiency. With industry average operational costs ranging between $3 and $15 per reservation, it’s not just the increased conversion rate of Book.limo that boosts profits. “It’s saved us staffing costs since every question customers would ask us is offered in this booking tool,” Milazzo says. “It’s really a no-hassle approach.”
Also efficient is their pricing model, starting at $99 for the entry-level Book.limo plan and topping out at $199 for Book.limo Pro. For those looking to be listed on www.rentalimo.com as well, silver and gold Rental Limo members get to use the Book.limo widget as part of their membership for a slight upcharge. Skeptical operators can try Rental Limo’s online reservation tool “Book.limo” free for 30 days with no long-term contracts or setup fees.
Chauffeurs Of The Tech World
Things rarely go wrong with the Book.limo reservation system, but if by any chance they do, Hilberth is available. “The importance of things always working and never breaking is an essential core competency of our business. To make sure people can place reservations, and that the process happens as efficiently and effectively as humanly possible is what we are here for.”
Hilberth’s actions speak louder than his words. If someone wants to reach out to him at any given moment, he provides them with his cell phone number, email address, and is on Facebook all day long working with multiple operators to optimize their accounts and deploy Book.limo on their websites.
In the rare instance where something does happen, Hilberth is on top of it. “If there happens to be one reservation that for some reason, let’s say the credit card didn’t go through, I’ll find out about it from Ryan,” Versace says. “Their customer service is beyond reproach.”
Sousa says, “If I ever had an issue, Ryan would always answer the phone. When you’re dealing with software companies in particular, you generally have to go through a support process where you send them an email or open a ticket and you get an automated answer or never hear back from them. I never felt that way with Ryan. That’s one of the main reasons I’ve been using Book.limo ever since I started.”
The Book.limo support team’s willingness to listen to constructive criticism is clear. “Our company is always open to suggestions from operators,” Hilberth says. “We put the direction of our business in the hands of the voices of the industry. We work with nearly 200 operators who are constantly emailing suggestions and feedback as to what direction the product should go, and not only do we open that door for communication, we specifically listen and incorporate the suggestions of our operators into our game plan for development and progress.”
Into The Future
There’s no question the limo industry needs to “up” its tech game. Part of providing excellent customer service is learning and adapting to what clients want. Operators need an online reservation system that works well on all devices, whether a tablet, mobile device, or desktop. Your customers need to be able to quickly and easily compare prices and book rides on your site without having to call your office.
Mobile device activity accounts for 30% to 50% of most operators’ web traffic. If your website’s reservation system can’t render on a mobile device, that means nearly half of your total visitors can’t even book a ride if they wanted to. Book.limo is “allowing the ground transportation industry to catch up to the 21st century,” Charla says.
As part of a strategic alliance with Rental Limo, DriveProfit clients can use Book.limo on their company’s website. “I am so convinced it’s going to make such a difference in my ability to generate revenues for our clients that I’m willing to put my own money behind it,” Charla says. Versace says he’d recommend Book.limo to any company that uses a website to generate business because it has increased his online reservation volume a couple hundred percent overnight.
Based on his experience, Sousa would strongly recommend Book.limo to other companies. Operators can expect new features to roll out regularly as the team often releases multiple technology updates per day. While Rental Limo’s products and services extend only through the U.S. and Puerto Rico, the company plans to go global in the near future.
With the recent release of rider login, customers can now save reusable information in their accounts such as their name, address, and card on file to further speed up the reservation process. This powerful new feature also opens the door for Book.limo to support corporate transportation by displaying different rates to corporate riders once they’ve logged in. As such, operators can bill their retail riders up front while billing corporate riders on a different schedule to accommodate corporate accounts.
In addition, the Rental Limo team is gearing up to launch dozens of new online marketplace websites on various premium domain names they’ve acquired such as Chicago.limo, Boston.limo, and Limo.Services — all powered by Book.limo. And Hilberth says this is just the beginning.
To see a video of what Book.limo can do for your operation, click here.
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