The taxi industry is gearing up for its busiest time of the year with many people using taxis to attend Christmas parties and other festive events.
Uber and local taxi firms will continue to compete, vying for the attention of the public. But how can small businesses in the transport industry keep up with larger firms and reap the benefits of the festive season?
Local taxi firms should be utilising technology to increase passenger numbers. While the focus of the media’s attention is on Uber’s consumer-facing app, many outside the inner cities also have the opportunity to embrace this app-based tech revolution – and can even take this to the next level. Any firm signed up to the iGo Network, a network of taxi and private hire operators around the world can provide their customers with access to drivers operating in Australia, via their own custom app.
Small businesses in the transport industry need to ensure their passengers are aware of the apps available to them (besides Uber) to book taxis, which is convenient for everyone on both sides. Many people think this way of booking is limited to Uber and larger taxi businesses, which is why local taxi firms must promote their equivalent apps to passengers and demonstrate how easy they are to use. Start educating customers now before peak hits!
Uber’s focus has always been on high-profit urban areas, where drivers are more likely to have a constant stream of customers looking for rides throughout the day. But where does that leave the rest of the population? What about those people living out in the suburbs or in rural towns?
This is particularly relevant in Sydney where high property prices are pushing people to live further away from the city. Small businesses should be capitalising on this market by targeting people who would usually find it hard to book a taxi during the festive period because of the location of their homes.
There is a vast number of people who are currently being overlooked by the limited reach of ride-hailing apps. Speaking to these people, understanding their needs and providing a real-world solution is the key to tackling Uber.
During the festive period, smaller taxis firms need to think about all types of customers. From people with disabilities and the elderly community, who will rely on their preferred taxi provider to help them lead an independent life, to hotel chains who want to honour agreements to serve their guests. New tech-first taxi players aren’t geared up to service this level of complexity, and these customers should be reminded of this.
Establishing relationships with individuals and corporate customers is what local taxi firms have always been great at. Providing a high level of customer service is something which will help firms stand out in the crowd. People will naturally feel more secure booking a driver they know and trust.
There is plenty for taxi operators to do as we prepare for the festive season. For everyone else? Well most of us will be taking a taxi during the Christmas period, so why not think about using a smaller taxi firm?
Safa Alkateb, CEO, Autocab