How Legacy Ground Transportation Industry Decreases Travelers’ Productivity

The first and last miles of a business trip are often the least efficient. Legacy ground transportation’s outdated business practices thwart workers’ productivity on the road.

The problems of business travelers’ productivity are well known in airports and in the sky. To help, airlines and airports are offering more amenities where possible, like business lounges, open spaces, charging stations and free Wi-Fi, but productivity is just as limited when moving between airports, hotels and meeting locations.

The experience lacks customer service and convenience

Traditional ground transportation is fraught with frustration. Travelers know the experience of waiting in interminable airport, hotel and convention center taxi lines, or hoping to hail a cab on in a foreign city. These scenarios expose travelers to unfavorable weather conditions and lack the privacy and discretion people need to make phone calls.

Taxis are also famous for rejecting credit cards and demanding cash. Not only does this complicate the payment transaction for customers, but it also adds to employees’ expense report times.

Legacy limousine companies, on the other hand, have made it difficult for passengers to contact drivers. Instead, they often use a chain where travelers call a third-party booking service or the limo company – hoping that someone is still there – and then customer service calls the driver.

Hodgepodge policies inconvenience travelers

Beyond the ride itself, ground transportation providers waste time for business travelers before and after rides.

Scheduling a legacy limousine ride often means phone calls or using a clunky website. Many lack dedicated apps, and some require passengers to schedule rides before receiving the price. Cancellation can also require a phone call, up to 24 hours in advance.

Some taxi companies, on the other hand, allow passengers to schedule rides in advance, while others tell customers to call back an hour, half hour or 10 minutes before they need a pickup – and the time could vary depending on the day or the dispatcher.

After the fact, invoices are inconsistent in the industry. Limousine companies often add surcharges, ranging from pick-up fees, airport fees, parking costs, and vague terms like “administration costs” and a “surface transportation charge.” These confuse and frustrate customers, and complicate the expense reimbursement process.

In all, travelers are forced to remember a variety of policies based on the city, country and ground transportation provider. Then, they must properly fill out expense forms after the fact, hoping they do not overlook the tip or range of fees from the provider.

What is next for ground transportation providers

The ground transportation industry must do more to increase travelers’ productivity. As a start, providers can make payment easier by accepting cards and clearly showing all-inclusive, transparent prices. In addition, they can make it easier for customers to directly contact the drivers.

Both of those changes would save time and eliminate two significant areas of stress.

What about you? How can ground transportation companies make the first and last miles of trips more productive? Share your opinions in the comment section.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

How Local Professional Drivers can Better Compete Against the Large Limousine Companies

While the taxi industry faces an uncertain future, the fragmented professional driver industry around the world is benefiting from disruptive innovation. Jens Wohltorf, CEO and co-founder of global professional driver service Blacklane, explains the dichotomy of local and legacy limousine providers and how both customers and local providers are benefiting from industry partnerships. He also forecasts what travelers and corporate travel managers will focus on in the coming years.

Livery service around the world has a handful of large, well-known providers, but you say the industry is quite fragmented. Can you explain?

The average local limousine company operates fewer than three cars. So for every legacy company, there are tens of thousands of small businesses. Almost all of these operate in only one city, or at the most a region with multiple nearby cities, like Los Angeles and Anaheim or Cannes and Nice.

Each of them has built a business on local customers and word of mouth, going through the requirements to get each vehicle and driver the appropriate permits and licenses, and get the required local permits and insurance.

How do these providers compete with the large livery companies?

Their core loyal customers are usually frequent local travelers and a handful of out-of-town customers. If they know a second or third language, they may get referral business from international customers.

By and large, they lack the marketing and customer acquisition budget, the dispatching software and the staff that multi-national chauffeur companies have. They run their business – scheduling, payroll, licensing, vehicle maintenance and more – and often drive, too. They simply do not have the time, experience and budgets to invest in online advertising, search engine optimization and the like. Therefore, international travelers have little to no chance to find reliable local companies.

How can independent drivers succeed long-term against larger players?

Local drivers already compete well on price, and they can grow their business with word-of-mouth referrals and positive online reviews based on their high levels of quality.

However, the industry has a utilization problem. Each company has big gaps in between rides that account for 80 percent of drivers’ time. To fill them, local professional driver companies are more often partnering with companies that book rides around the world. This gives local drivers access to international companies’ global customer bases for rides precisely during their downtimes.

Some also use ride-hailing to fill in gaps on demand, which is helpful when they have small windows of availability in between downtown rides. Nevertheless, it is hard to plan around an on-demand business since drop-off locations and price points are not known in advance.

What developments do you see in the next five years for professional drivers?

The professional driver industry has a great outlook: customer prices are coming down while revenues are going up. This happens because of higher utilization. As local providers fill in their gaps, they make more money per vehicle and per driver. Customers get lower prices by using companies that fill those gaps across the entire industry.

Business travel is also placing a greater importance on the concept called duty of care. With so many transportation providers – large limousine companies, local providers, ride-hailing companies, taxi companies, etc. – corporate travel managers need to know:

• Who is responsible for passenger safety?

• What insurance covers employees when they are traveling for work in vehicles?

• Which companies provide the customer service: the car service provider, the booking agent, the driver, etc.?

And last, travelers are expecting a familiar experience whether they are in Dublin or Dubai. They desire professional high-quality drivers, high-quality cars, reliability during every pickup, consistent wait time policies, and transparent and customer-friendly cancellation and price policies.

Leave a comment: How often and for what purposes do you use limousine service? What do you expect from your limousine service providers? Share your limousine ride experience with us.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

Improving Mobility Pptions for Recurring Bookings and Personalization

Recurring trips, such as those for Christmas holidays or quarterly board meetings, annual trade shows and shareholder meetings are perfect for automated bookings and automatic personalization.

The role of a travel provider is to get travelers to their destinations as quickly and effectively as possible, so they can focus on the purpose of their trips and not the travel itself. One way is to reduce the stress and thinking that goes into booking a trip.

The next big step toward that goal is to combine travel information with personal data and individual calendars. This will allow customers to simply enter a meeting into calendar software, and then automatically receive an itinerary (or several itineraries to choose from).

Another component is generating a flight, accommodation and ground transportation that recurs based on repeated travels.

At a company, an executive assistant or travel manager could tell the travel system which employees will visit a trade show or board meeting on which dates. Every employee would then receive itineraries months in advance, at the same time.

Travel providers could also offer discounts for companies that book in bulk or by certain dates, saving cash in addition to employee time.

Personal travelers would similarly benefit from online travel agencies (OTAs) or metasearch engines creating itineraries months in advance. They could also guarantee that if prices drop due to an airline or hotel sale, travelers automatically get the new lower rate. A simple option to implement this is to add a box at the bottom of the checkout process.

When you reserve this year’s Christmas trip, for example, you would indicate that you would like to travel on the same dates or same days of the week next year. Then you simply wait for itineraries to arrive several months later, with your option to accept, decline or modify them.

Automate travel personalization

Recurring bookings should also take into account travelers’ preferences, and instill more familiarity.

• Maintain the same flight seat number and boarding group.

• Reserve the same hotel room. If a guest is satisfied with Room 412 away from the elevator on a low floor, then why not give her the same room next time?

• Provide the same professional driver for the same airport-to-hotel route. Travelers could then search for a familiar face instead of their name on sign.

Such advances sound like a travel utopia, but they are not far away. The information exists to make these realities and many companies are starting to link that information together already.

What do you think? Leave a comment with your ideas to help streamline the travel experience.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

The Future of Travel Technology: Scheduling Without Stress

The future of travel is far more than the means of transport: hyperloops, autonomous vehicles, spacecraft, etc. It is also about how we book travel. The goal is to reduce stress and time for organizing trips, so travelers can focus on enjoying their destinations instead.

The first phase of improving travel reservations

The word “travel” originates from “travail,” due to early travelers’ difficulty of getting from A to B. That meaning is outdated now, but it points to the value of travel companies: alleviate the pains of reaching new destinations.

As a first step, the industry has done an amazing job aggregating and presenting travel information. Travelers compare flights, cars and accommodations by themselves, or bundled with other services. Data can be sorted by location, price, time, user ranking or travel policy preferences.

That is on top of the work that the Global Distributions Systems (GDSs) and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are doing to link vehicle, flight and accommodation inventories with end consumers.

In separate databases, companies store all of your loyalty program information. Plus, they know if you travel in business or economy class, prefer a window or aisle seat, and would rather have a high or low floor in a hotel.

A company that can link these databases, and then integrate your calendar, has a tremendous opportunity. The result would be one engine that combines the different pieces of “you” for the purpose of travel.

What is next: integrated travel reservations

Imagine living in London and scheduling a three-day meeting in New York. Behind the scenes, in a matter of seconds, a travel engine would gather:

• Flight options based on your preferences: airlines where you have premium status, upgrades available, window or aisle seats and time of day you prefer to fly.

• Hotels based on proximity to the meeting location or airport, availability of public transit and amenities you desire, such as breakfast.

• Vehicle options, including car rentals or professional drivers, based on the distance between the airport and meeting location or hotel, and your driving preferences. For example, the system would know if you do not drive internationally, or if you have a preferred professional driver brand.

The output would be simple: either several itineraries to choose from, or one itinerary that most closely matches your preferences.

How will innovation come about?

It could be from integrations between technology and travel giants or perhaps a large technology company will expand further into travel and then combine travel assets with its profile and calendar information.

Or large IT companies, could create a homegrown solution for its employees, and then sell it to other organizations. It is also likely than new start-up entrants will form to solve this problem.

Regardless of how it happens, these improvements will come. Today’s travel reservation process – while greatly improved from a few years ago – remains too manual and time-consuming.

Shedding searching and booking steps will give companies countless of hours of productivity each year, and will reduce employees’ stress during the booking process.

Leave a comment: What kind of tools do you use to make your travel bookings? Have you faced any problems while booking? If so, share your experience with us.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.