Luxury Coach & Transportation

August 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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28 LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION AUGUST 2018 WWW.LCTMAG.COM TECHNOLOGY & LEADERSHIP SCOTT SOLOMBRINO CEO of Dav El / BostonCoach Chauffeured Transportation Network Boston (Summit sponsor) As head of one of the world's largest luxury transportation services, Solombrino has made strides in leading his company to seamlessly integrate its technology components and software systems on the back-end. This enables it to look at GPS and see real-time locations of all company-owned vehicles worldwide, he says. Dav El/BostonCoach is part of the same parent company that owns the Limo Anywhere software system, with 5,000 user subscribers, and GroundLink, a tech-enabled black vehicle service available through a professional ride app. The synergy has put the companies at the forefront of adapting to the technology shakeup that has enabled transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber to make major inroads into the corporate and business travel sectors at the expense of taxicabs and rental cars. "People have to fight back by using duty of care, which Uber and Lyft don't have, and fight on quality of service as an industry," Solombrino said. "That's all you have left to sell." Solombrino is confident the disruption is survivable for those operations willing to embrace and offer the latest tech. "Technology will drive people who survive," he says. "We are improving that every day. Without tech, the industry is basically in trouble." Such prowess must match the industry's legacy of safe, insured transportation with background checked and trained chauffeurs. "You have to go to clients and sell duty of care compliance levels with tech options that are competitive to Uber and Lyft. That's what we work on every day." EVAN BLANCHETTE CEO of VIP Global Ultra-Premium Chauffeured Transportation Miami, Fla. (Summit transportation sponsor) Since VIP Global was featured in LCT Magazine in July 2016, the company has kept pace with the latest industry technology and innovations while growing to 38 fleet vehicles and moving to a larger location within a mile of Miami International Airport. Its use of Zipwhip, a two-way business texting service (www. zipwhip.com), has eliminated more than half of the phone calls between VIP Global dispatchers and clients, Blanchette says. The company uses texting with its chauffeurs as well, and integrates all texting functions with the Santa Cruz software system. Complementing the texting service is automated flight checking that reviews pending client flights every five minutes and continuously updates "wheels down" times. What was once a manual process among dispatchers is now automatic, since the system can also reschedule reservations and chauffeur assignments. VIP Global is testing and planning to launch an on-demand feature for hotel clients, which coincides with a transition to complete auto-dispatching. The software system also integrates with a portal connected to Addison Lee that empowers GPS to seamlessly communicate and track affiliated rides and information among the ground transportation giant and Santa Cruz users. "It's all about eliminating key strokes from reservation to dispatch to clients that drives efficiency," Blanchette says. The less keystrokes, the fewer errors. With celebrity (clients), you don't get a second chance. Things have to be perfect." ARIADNA NOCHES Affiliate manager, American Transportation Miami, Fla. Noches says her biggest tech challenge is with reservation software. She's recently added GriDD Technologies' G-Net, and is trying to achieve full integration with her software. "We are always looking to improve communication with clients through digital means, and reach them with their preferred method of communication. Some prefer text, while others like to chat over the phone — we have a little bit of everything." She and her team work to personalize each account to show clients the large gap between luxury transportation and TNCs. "The industry doesn't want to be compared to Uber, but at the same time we don't have the kind of technology they do. It's so easy to click a button and have a car come get you, and we as an industry are lacking that power. It's frustrating, because we are the ones who are supposed to be offering better service than them." A future with autonomous cars doesn't scare her. "I don't see it affecting the industry because people will always want to be pampered." She would love to see an app that would allow chauffeurs to see the extensive notes the company keeps on their clients so they can perform to the absolute best of their abilities. He mentions it's hard because this industry isn't as desirable and doesn't have the same reputation as Google or Yahoo, so it's expensive to hire developers to make great strides. "You always hear so much talk about what is wrong. We have so many brains here that if we would just work together, we could make huge advancements. People feel like if they help support another company, they'll be out of business. It's the opposite. Even if you never get business from someone, take them up on their friendship and guidance and learn from them." Dhillon suggests those who want to remain in-the-know about the latest tech advancements should subscribe to some technology newsletters and remain well-read. "Every situation you're in has a solution. Work and focus on that rather than worry about what others are doing. That takes time away from your situation. You have to learn and understand the software to have it truly make a difference."

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