TOPIC: What is on your 2017 technology wish list?The technology products and services that we’ve been using are still working for us. Currently, I don’t think there is anything new that our chauffeurs or customers need. I do think you have to keep getting faster computers for office staff and better WiFi all the time.
Gary Day, President
American Limousines in Baltimore, Md.
We invest heavily in technology to both create a better customer experience and increase operating efficiency. On our list for 2017 is the migration of all servers to a cloud-based platform in the first quarter. Also, we’re investigating a change with our current GPS and DVIR systems to implement electronic logging devices by the fourth quarter.
Additionally, we’re researching a possible change to our CRM system—we currently use ACT! 2018 Premium—and implementing changes and enhancements to our Hudson Livery Software.
Kim Garner, President & Owner
BEST Transportation in St. Louis, Mo.
For 2017, we are excited about some new online features along with an on-demand app that will have a structure unlike anything available in the current app world for car service. We have already gone live with our new First Class app, which we can white-label for our hotel and corporate clients.
We’re working closely with our software provider The Hudson Group, which has developed new technology through its platform that will allow us to create a live working inventory for each of our vehicles. It also has the capacity to manage all the aspects we need it to, including a maintenance schedule for each vehicle type.
Windy City is working with GPS providers and the DOT to create a platform that will bridge directly with our dispatch software to track the live DOT hours of all chauffeurs, and we would like to incorporate this directly in the inventory software, as well.
My wish list always includes finding a better Push-to-Talk network and expanding our current business with the on-demand service, which will give our chauffeurs more flexibility to work additional shifts in the peak seasons.
Brian Heneghan, Dispatch Manager
Windy City Limousines in Broadview, Ill.
The first two things on our wish list are autoscheduling and autodispatch by GroundWidgets. Autoscheduling will save up to two hours of a dispatcher’s time each evening by setting up the next day’s assignments for chauffeurs based upon their schedule and where they start their day. Autodispatch will improve vehicle utilization by sending the closest vehicle to the next ride and increase customer service levels by freeing up our dispatchers’ time to focus on high-touch reservations.
Joe Herbert, Director of Technology
RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Rockville, Md.
I’m excited about 2017. The economy looks good and we have gotten off to a strong start. We have two key initiatives this year on the technology front.
We are currently in a beta program with GRiDD Technologies. This will allow our software system to talk in real time with other software systems and get immediate updates.
Currently, Boston Chauffeur is on FASTTRAK, but GRiDD will allow us to integrate with Livery Coach and a number of other participating software companies, including Limo Anywhere and The Hudson Group.
The other focus in 2017 is both implementing our customer app and beta-testing a near-demand model for a portion of our fleet.
Mark Kini, Founder & CEO
Boston Chauffeur in Beverly, Mass.
We would like to upgrade our mobile reservation app and enhance our GPS fleet navigation and dispatching software to create a better resource to know where our vehicles are and when they’re available for another job.
What I would like to see is some industry software that allows operators to put their open vehicles on a platform so we can offer that on-demand solution to our clients.
Jeff Nyikos, President
Leros Point to Point in Valhalla, N.Y.
2017 will be a year with a multitude of technology shifts for us. Toward the middle of the year, we’ll be going online with our new homepage, including an online booking tool that will catch up to the latest industry standards and directly interact with our customized reservation system, individually designed for the QLimo Network.
We’ll also be going live with the interaction with GRiDD, which will facilitate worldwide affiliate networking tremendously. Presently, we’re testing and customizing the GNet system to be well-prepared for live bookings being sent back and forth.
Germany’s technology is changing rapidly, which will give us IP-based telephone communication within the next weeks, bringing all the challenges and new options of high-tech telecommunications. Furthermore, the entire IT infrastructure will move to cloud-based applications. We believe that this is not only more cost effective than traditional local server networks but also a way to keep our reservations department up to date with the latest standards.
It will also allow seamless interaction within a nationwide multi-operational network under one common roof.
Ralf Rehder, Owner/President
ACTION Worldwide Limousines and QLimo.com in Hamburg, Germany
We’ve already made a lot of upgrades this year. The first thing that we did was add book.limo to our website, as we find it to be an important tool for competing with TNCs. This tool works just like booking an airline trip: You find something you like, book it, and pay for it in one step.
The second thing that we added was the DocuSign or Esign network. We find that clients are signing and filling out forms much more efficiently and quickly now than with a PDF file.
The third was a way for our fleet manager to quickly add fuel costs and service records. I had given up looking for a solution until I got an email from autosist.com, and have since found it very easy to use. The best thing for us is that we can add service records to the appropriate files via the app they offer.
Jess Sandu, Vice President of Operations
A&A Limousine and Bus Service in Seattle, Wash.
It is an almost impossible task to remain current with the latest and greatest technology. With that said, we have made it a core initiative in 2017 to upgrade or replace almost every IT system we operate. In addition, we are looking for additional IT tools to replace manual tasks.
The “Uber effect” on the industry is all about technology and efficiency. Pushing our IT boundaries has put a major strain on the team to adapt. The cost is high to start before the benefits kick in, so we are spending extra time upfront to program-manage each initiative to achieve success with minimal pain and cost.
Tony Simon, COO
Reston Limousine in Sterling, Va.
Over the past five years, technology providers within the livery industry have made important advances to keep up our industry relevant. But despite those efforts, there is a gap in technology between what TNCs offer versus what’s available to the livery industry.
These are just some areas we’ve deemed critical:
• Geofencing capabilities/integration in order to pay local airport and ports fees
• A full-bloom quality module that allows customers to rate drivers using a five-star system
• The customer and office alike should know a chauffeur’s rating in real-time
• Driver apps should provide dashboards that can track utilization, commissions, pay, etc. while also allowing chauffeurs to upload their schedules
• Driver apps should also track documents for in-house employees and IOs, and also have the ability to set auto alerts that notify chauffeurs and the office when important documents are missing or are about to expire
• Fully functional and integrated customer app with SMS so the customer receives everything through text and doesn’t have to open an app to retrieve information
Rebekah Urbina, President
Apollo Transportation Services in Boca Raton, Fla.
What we are most excited about are the new in-vehicle camera systems. As any company running buses is aware, insurance has gone up significantly because of insurance fraud. Slip-and-fall claims have cost insurance companies significant losses over recent years; as a result, the insurance market has started to shrink for bus fleets, which, in turn, has raised the price of insurance beyond reason.
Our new camera systems have USB flash drives that can be exchanged and stored for safekeeping, just in case the client develops some health issue months later for which they intend to sue the company.
Robert Xavier, President
Legend Limousines in Smithtown, N.Y.
AmyExpress is constantly looking to update our operations system’s hardware and software alike in order to deliver superior client experiences. As an operator in China, one of our biggest challenges is to assist our chauffeurs with communicating in English with our foreign passengers to avoid any misunderstanding. Therefore, in 2017, we plan to install an iPhone/iPad with embedded WeChat application in each and every vehicle. This application has group texting and voicing functionalities that connect and involve our English-speaking back-office staff simultaneously.
The current operations system we have been using for the past four years is functioning very well but has some areas that need improving. For instance, it is unable to save Chinese characters and recognize addresses in Chinese. As our business continues growing, we are searching for an alternative operations system to enhance our work efficiency.
Amy Yan, Co-Founder and Managing Partner
AmyExpress in Kowloon, Hong Kong
We supplied all of our chauffeurs with tablets last year. In 2017, we are looking for a way to integrate those iPads into the cars in a stylish way, substituting the screens in vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, for example.
Alexander Zimmerman, CEO
Metropolitan Limousines in Berlin, Germany
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