Technology is transforming the ground transportation industry. From ChatGPT to green metrics, limo companies are implementing the latest technology to enhance their businesses and provide superior service. Three limo executives shared their insights with Bus & Motorcoach News on what tech trends are delivering streamlined operations, higher revenues and increased sustainability.
1. Automated dispatch systems to reduce carbon footprint. Rick Versace, president of the A1A Airport & Limousine Service in Boca Raton, Florida, is one of several members of the Florida Limousine Association that is finding success with the technology. And it’s important to his clients. It’s an issue that is also paramount to the Florida Limousine Association, which recently launched its GreenRides initiative.
“”We think this is really going to dramatically change the entire landscape and make our industry more sustainable. We have a lot of things on the drawing board, such as ways of trying to calculate carbon footprint and look at things like carbon offsetting, or carbon credits or offering people ways to actually purchase a carbon neutral ride from one of our member companies.”
He says clients often ask about carbon output.
“Everybody wants to hear about sustainability when we’re bidding on contracts,” Versace said. “Sustainability isn’t just only about converting to electric vehicles. What we’re trying to do is really figure out ways that you can measure the CO2 (carbon dioxide) output of each one of our vehicles so we can see how the whole fleet is doing. “
Many National Limousine Association (NLA) members are using automated dispatch systems that reduce their carbon footprint. One example of this technology is the SantaCruz Auto Dispatch module, available from software provider GroundWidgets. The technology also compiles information regarding the carbon footprint for each vehicle, generating green metrics.
Jason Kaplan, president and CEO of Phoenix-based The Driver Provider, uses software to reduce his company’s carbon footprint. The system monitors the location of vehicles and dispatches them based on how close they are to the next pickup.
2. ChatGPT for digital marketing and policy revisions. Limo companies also are leveraging ChatGPT for tasks such as rewriting policies, responding to Google reviews and writing blog posts. This AI chatbot engages in human-like dialogue based on a prompt to create conversational dialogue.
Kirk Bagger is the owner and founder of Captains Car Service, a small white-car chauffeur services company in Cleveland that uses Chat GPT for everything from writing emails to responding to online reviews to rewriting company policies.
“I use it nearly every day. I’ll paste a copy in the GPT chat and say please rewrite to sound more professional or just rewrite in general. It makes me sound smarter than I am basically,” Bagger says with a laugh. “I’m going through right now and rewriting a lot of my policies using it. Is it perfect? No, you still have to reread it.”
3. Chatbots for quick, efficient service: Limo operators are implementing chatbots on their websites to provide quotes and take reservations quickly and efficiently. Versace, at A1A Limo, says his chatbot “Allie” is the highest-ranking customer call representative, taking more reservations than anyone else.
Kaplan, of The Driver Provider, sees an opportunity to expand its use by making it market-specific to weddings, for example.
“We’re just beginning to understand the dynamic possibilities of Allison, as we call the chatbot,” Kaplan said.
4. Seamless booking via website or app: Today’s luxury chauffeured transportation companies have the same booking technology as Uber and Lyft. Customers can download an operator’s app or use their website to book a chauffeured ride in just a few clicks.
Bagger, with Captains Car Service, has integrated dynamic pricing features into his booking system to increase profit margins. Dynamic pricing varies pricing for a product or service to reflect changing market conditions. It’s often used to charge higher prices when there is great demand. He credits the technology for raising his profit margin. Dynamic pricing is built into his reservation software system Limo Anywhere.
“Up until about three years ago, nobody was doing it in the limousine business,” says Bagger. “I’ve been doing it now for almost a little over two and a half years. The hotels and airlines have been doing it for years. “
Last year, his business saw an $70,000 increase in revenues as a result of dynamic pricing, which is done automatically on his website. On average, his monthly revenue was up 19%. When the NBA All-Star games were in town for three days, his averages were up over 200%.
5. Live GPS to enhance safety and service: Limo operators are using live GPS not only to track rides, but also to monitor driver behavior and ensure vehicle maintenance. It allows companies to be more proactive than reactive, increasing driving efficiency and improving the customer experience.
The Driver Provider uses Samsara technology to track driver behavior, which sends notifications to the fleet manager if vehicles are being driven too fast, using too much force when braking or cornering too sharply. This driving behavior might result in remedial training. The technology also sends maintenance information. It has sustainability features built in, from automatic route optimization to save on fuel to alerts on engine idling.
Each chauffeur has an iPad that tracks trip tickets and updates the status of the trips. ELD technology not only manages hours of service but supports chauffeur coaching and onboard diagnostics of vehicles, which allows for optimal fleet and maintenance management.
Another technology has simplified setting up the chauffeurs’ schedules. Employees post their availability online, and that information is used by the dispatch team. The result is more efficient than “old-school phone texting and interaction,” Kaplan says.
Not only is technology making the reservations process smoother but it cuts down on errors. The system lets the company track the entire process from request to drop off online. It also lets clients track their service online.
“Previously, clients would have to call us to get updates. Now they can just look at the screen and see the status of their service,” says Kaplan, noting the company provides a traditional booking service for clients who prefer it. But that’s the exception rather than the rule, he says.
6. Vehicle Inspection has been automated. The A1A Airport & Limousine Service uses Whip Around, which has the driver log in before he heads out for his shift. He has to physically walk around the vehicle and answer a series of questions about the brakes, wipers, oil levels, mileage, dents and other factors. If something is wrong, the driver can take a picture that is automatically sent to the fleet manager.
“It makes things a lot safer because the driver is certifying before even leaving that there are no issues with the vehicle,” Versace said.