Call it a fender-bender, but two online and mobile car-service rivals, Limos.com and GroundLink, are bringing their competition out into the open at the Travel Innovation Summit.
Both are among the presenters Nov. 15 at the Hollywood, Fla., event, as they vie for bragging rights in the massive, yet notoriously fractured car-service market, and try to scale their operations around the US and abroad.
In his TIS presentation, Limos.com CEO T.J. Clark said GroundLink is not a "marketplace" and this limits its value to customers.
The two companies have different models.
GroundLink owns 350 cars in New York City and contracts with affiliates throughout the US and in several major cities around the world, including Paris and Rome.
When you search GroundLink for a ride from the Westin Diplomat hotel in Hollywood, Florida, to Miami Airport on Nov. 23, you see set pricing based on the car type.
In contrast, when you conduct a similar search on Limos.com, which doesn't own any of its own cars, you can shop around and compare prices from various car services like this:
After Clark's presentation, Rod Cuthbert, who served on a critics' panel, said he tried the GroundLink app and liked it, so what would compel him to start using Limos.com instead?
Clark replied that travel consumers have shown that they enjoy shopping for competitive pricing and that the Limos.com marketplace approach would be a differentiator and lead to plenty of "switchers."
In an interview this morning, prior to the Limos.com presentation, Daniel Leon, GroundLink's general manager of mobile, said that Limos.com doesn't stand behind its service and forces customers to deal with disparate car-service companies if they run into customer service problems.
One of GroundLink's key advantages is that is software tightly integrates with affiliates' dispatch systems so GroundLink can drop potential car-service jobs into affiliates' systems when they have cars available, leading to fewer "service failures."
GroundLink and Limos.com have had their clashes before over their rival mobile apps.
They won't agree on which company should be the top dog anytime soon.
What they do agree on is that the car-service market is gargantuan and wide open as numerous players go online and get mobile.