There has been a lot of talk within our industry about the “threat” of on-demand services such as Uber. We’ve all heard the pros: it’s cheap, you get a car quickly, centralized billing, and it’s all on a smart phone. As an industry, I believe this service is perceived to be a much larger threat than it truly is. Let’s address each of these “pros” individually and see how we stack up.
It’s Cheap – There is no arguing this point. Uber is definitely cheaper than most chauffeured transportation companies. Just like anything else that is “cheap”, the buyer gives up some benefit to receive a lower total cost. Uber has made it very clear what they require to work with them. Drivers must have the minimal required insurance for the area they operate and must be properly licensed. Outside of these, they require no vehicle type, driver attire or customer service. This is where we can differentiate ourselves.
You Get A Car Quickly – This can be a great benefit to those with last minute needs or poor planning skills. Not sure about anyone else, but with over 500 trips per day the vast majority of our passengers want to pre arrange their transportation to know we will be there. Plus, Uber is nowhere near as fast as a vehicle that is waiting outside your pickup location when you are ready.
Centralized Billing – All of the worldwide chauffeured transportation networks, such as OML Worldwide, offer global transportation with centralized billing and dispatch. If you do not currently offer chauffeured transportation worldwide, please refer your clients to those of us who do. It helps to industry and you will still get the work for your local area.
It’s All On a SmartPhone – Okay, so I can’t knock this as the technology is really cool and a great use of new equipment. GPS tracking and routing has done great things to advance our industry and this is no different. I’ve personally talked with several providers who currently offer a smart phone application for booking, changing and confirming your chauffeured service. At OML Worldwide, our app is currently in production and will be released shortly.
Lastly, I’d like you of a conversation I had with a travel agent friend recently. We were at a networking event and the Uder subject came up. In my mind, services like Limos.com and Uber are basically like the travel sites such as Travelocity or PriceLine. The conversation went like this.
Me: “When the online travel sites came out, what was the feeling in your industry?”
Her: “Everyone was freaking out thinking we would all go out of business.“
Me: “Did you lose a lot of clients to theses site?”
Her: “In the long run no. We had a few small corporate clients who tried them, but they didn’t get the service they need. Those sites are great if you want a cheap rate but they can’t let you know how close your hotel is to the office you are visiting or what’s the best option for dinner. It’s just not what corporations are looking for in a travel management option.”
This to me is exactly what we, as an industry, need to be sure to relay to our clients. We don’t offer a ride, but a helpful hand when they are traveling.