As an executive, your traveling team members deal with 3 major types of services: airlines, hotels, and ground transportation providers. While airlines and hotels garner the bulk of the headlines, ground transportation matters a great deal, too — and it’s the category that presents travelers with the most options.
Chauffeur car services are a traditional favorite. These services offer incredible convenience — a driver who meets you at the airport or hotel, a clean and luxurious vehicle, as well as safe and professional driving.
But do chauffeur car services have a place in a world with car-share services, growing public transportation options, and ever-present car rental providers? And how does the choice between chauffeur, rental and car share providers impact your duty of care as an executive?
A recent Business Travel News survey sheds light on what buyers care about when using chauffeur car services — and how satisfied they are with the things that matter most to them. BTN conducted the survey in March and April, receiving nearly 100 responses. To help you fulfill your duty of care obligation, here’s a look at what matters most to buyers of chauffeur car services, ranked from most important to least important.
1. Complaint and Problem Resolution
Buyers ranked complaint and problem resolution as the most important factor in choosing chauffeur car services — earning a 4.52 out of 5 rating. Conversely, satisfaction with complaint and problem resolution earned only a 4.15 out of 5 rating.
It’s important to note that buyer’ satisfaction with chauffeur car services dropped from 2016 to 2017 in all categories but one (overall price value).
2. Insurance for Drivers
Providers of chauffeur car services have focused on background checks, driver training and insurance as ways to help differentiate from the competition. Those efforts have paid off according to the survey.
Insurance for drivers ranked as the second most important factor, earning a 4.41 out of 5 — and buyers’ satisfaction with insurance for drivers rated a 4.35. The minus-.06 gap between importance of and satisfaction with insurance for drivers represented the most closely aligned of these 7 categories BTN surveyed.
3. Ease of Booking
The rise of Uber, Lyft and other car share services has forced chauffeur car providers to improve their ease of booking. Perhaps the No. 1 reason to use a car share services is that you never make a phone call and you rarely wait for long. You hold the power to summon a ride in the palm of your hand.
The parent company of Marcou Transportation Group acquired car service platform GroundLink to help create a platform for on-demand booking of chauffeur car services. Similarly, chauffeur car booking platform Blacklane is quickly expanding — it’s now present in 54 countries.
BTN’s survey indicates that ease of booking is important to buyers of chauffeur car services (4.41), but that there’s also plenty of room to improve satisfaction with ease of booking (4.04).
4. Overall Price Value
This is the one category that saw an improvement in satisfaction from 2016 to 2017. Buyers of chauffeur car services rated overall price value a 4.36 out of 5, and they rated satisfaction with overall price value a 3.89.
Though satisfaction improved over the past year, the raw figure of 3.89 remains low. This is perhaps due to chauffeur car services charging a significant premium over alternatives. Keep in mind, too, that services like Uber are intentionally operating at a huge deficit in order to grow market share. That dynamic places chauffeur car services at a significant disadvantage in the short-term, while Uber losing billions annually isn’t a sustainable path in the long-term.
5. Licensing for Drivers
Licensing of drivers is another category that shows close alignment between importance and satisfaction. Buyers of chauffeur car services rated the importance of licensing of drivers a 4.27 out of 5, while they rated satisfaction with licensing of drivers a 4.16. This minus-.11 gap was the second smallest of any category.
6. Flexibility in Negotiating Transient Pricing
Overall price value earned a relatively low 3.89 satisfaction rating. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that flexibility in negotiating transient pricing also earned a low 3.54 satisfaction rating.
Experts in the industry explain that chauffeur car services slashed prices during the Great Recession in order to maintain market share. Prices remain low, which gives providers very little room to negotiate — which in turn may lead to dissatisfaction with negotiating flexibility.
While satisfaction with flexibility in negotiating transient pricing was low, there’s some good news for providers of chauffeur car services — buyers rated the importance of negotiating flexibility only a 4.03 out of 5.
7. Payment Terms for Network Partners
The least important decision factor for buyers was payment terms for network partners — rating a 3.66 out of 5. This is also the only category out of the seven in which satisfaction exceeded importance — rating a 3.9 out of 5.
What Does This Car Service Survey Mean for Buyers and Providers?
All providers of business travel services are facing uncertainty to some degree. But ground transportation is the one area where the sharing economy has made the deepest in-roads, creating the most uncertainty for legacy providers like chauffeur car services.
how does the choice between chauffeur, rental and car share providers impact your duty of care as an executive?
Chauffeur car service providers are responding to the Uber, Lyft and similar competitors by focusing on ease of booking and providing greater differentiation through driver training, insurance, licensing and background checks. These differentiators are highly related to your duty of care obligation, as each seemingly creates a safer experience for your travelers. If the economy continues to improve, and if chauffeur car services can continue to improve ease of booking, using differentiation to maintain market share can be a winning formula — a convenient and safe option for your travelers.
For business travel buyers, nothing compares to the reliability and convenience of chauffeur car services. As you consider whether or not these services are worth paying a premium, take time to survey your own travelers and get their perspectives on ground transportation.
Get Expert Guidance in Booking Ground Transportation
In an industry awash in options, wouldn’t it be nice to have some expert guidance? At JTB Business Travel, we work with corporations and organizations large and small, helping them to maximize the efficiency and value of their business travel. We also work with executives to ensure that duty of care obligations are fulfilled. Behind every recommendation we make and every service we provide is a common sense approach.
Contact us today for support in booking and managing ground transportation and all of your other corporate travel.