Can you raise bottom line revenue without raising ticket prices?
According to Chris Riddell, president of United Bus Technology (UBT), the answer absolutely is “Yes!” The solution is cutting-edge technology that UBT customers can now access without a huge up-front capital investment.
Riddell and UBT are certain that there are many opportunities for bus companies to capture market share with new onboard entertainment systems, passenger WiFi, movies and television, and revolutionary ticketing solutions–all designed to put revenue on an operator’s bottom line.
“Our litmus test for developing products or services is, ‘Will this help the industry make more money?’” said Riddell. “All of our products and ideas are designed to make this a reality.”
The overall goal is increased revenue, streamlined operations and simplified compliance through technology. The company recently announced that any fleet that has deployed UBT’s Netbox suite also can use SHIELD, its ELD, at no cost to the operator.
UBT has a new business model that allows them to offer solutions much less expensively than traditional onboard technology vendors. This is primarily due to the company’s willingness to put rubber to the road (and their money where their mouth is) by shouldering some of the burden related to installing new onboard technologies. In addition, UBT offers price structures that include sharing in the revenue streams instead of simply selling product.
Riddell said UBT can allow operators to deploy technologies–tech that operators both want and need, and customers are clamoring for–for an investment of only a few hundred dollars, compared to the many thousands of dollars that these installations usually cost.
In the current industry environment, it can be difficult to make needed investments, believes Riddell. So UBT is searching for ways to drive revenue to bus operators.
“We know what it looks like to run a bus company, and that gives us a real advantage as we look to create solutions” Riddell said. “We’re bringing tools that make it easier to run your company, because we have been on that side of the equation and we know just how hard it is to run things day to day.”
UBT employs more than 130 people. More than 100 of them are developers working on existing products and building new ones.
Thanks to their industry experience, UBT also understands the financial constraints facing motorcoach operators. Many technology companies offering motorcoach operators products are accustomed to serving multiple verticals, such as the airline or rail industries, which have much larger budgets. “A rail station or regional airline is a totally different animal than an operator with three to five buses where the owner is also working as a driver. It requires a different set of solutions and a radically different pricing structure.”
Given the recent climate of driver shortages and other industry-wide issues, Riddell said UBT strongly believes that additional revenue can be the solution to many of the systemic problems that plague the industry. “We see that if companies had more money to pay drivers, or if they could offer a better benefit package, or put more money into marketing, many of the issues that these operators face would diminish,” Riddell added.
Riddell said UBT technologies can be installed with virtually no downtime. UBT recently did an experiment to prove that the company can install its Netbox Suite infotainment system in under an hour–the time it takes to do an oil change.
“We want our customers to feel confident in that we’re not just selling a piece of hardware. We are providing hardware to accomplish an objective, and that objective is to make you more money,” Riddell says.
“We’re a solutions company. We want to make sure that no operator is unable to compete at the highest levels just because of limited budgets. We want to help operators give their customers and passengers the tools and experiences that they have come to expect in other areas of their travel lives, and we want to do it in a way that every operator has access to.”