Mobile is changing the ground transportation industry -- limos and car services specifically -- and Limos.com is poised to get in on the action with its first mobile website and iPhone app.
Limos.com, which claims 500,000 monthly unique visitors and says it takes 97% of its bookings online, plans to debut its first mobile site next week and its maiden iPhone app in early April.
The website already gets about 15% of its traffic from mobile devices so the new mobile website and app should provide a better user experience for smartphone-wielding clients.
T.J. Clark, the president and CEO of Limos.com and formerly an attorney-member of the team that started Hotwire, took a car service from Manhattan to Millburn, N.J., yesterday and broke out his iPhone and laptop over lunch to detail his mobile vision.
The Limos.com mobile website will detect the customer's location using GPS, enable users to search for available cars to their destination and sorts the results by car type -- sedan, SUV or limo -- and service class.
The display details vehicle features and there are photos of the car types, as well.
The user taps a Reserve button to book or selects the call option, and receives an email confirmation of the booking.
And, Clark says the first version of Limo.com's iPhone app should be available in early April.
Clark things mobile in ground transportation will evolve to an on-demand service.
"You order a car on your mobile and the experience for the corporate traveler especially, we think, is going to be huge," Clark says.
The Limos.com mobile app is geared to ease bookings for the traveler because the road warrior's credit card information already would be loaded and they would be able to book within the native app, he says.
Clark says future iterations of the Limos.com app, which was developed in-house, will enable travelers to place a pin on their location to specify which side of the building they want the driver to pick them up on, and would also allow both drivers and passengers to identify on a Google Map precisely where the other is.
These sorts of features, which already are available from some bus and other car service providers, seem like a game-changer in terms of the driver-passenger dynamic.
No need to phone the dispatcher to find out where your ride to the airport is if you can find the vehicle's location on a Google Map.
And, hopefully the driver won't pull into the wrong driveway or office if he or she can pinpoint the customer's location through an app.
Limos.com, which says it is profitable, works with some 2,000 car service companies globally and plans to roll out a driver-oriented version of the app for these partners, as well.
One of Limos.com's competitors, GroundLink, already has some of these capabilities in its iPhone app.
The GroundLink app currently enables customers to watch their cars' locations en route with estimated arrival times.
Clearly, there is huge growth potential in the scheduled, chauffered-service market, which Clark pegs at $17 billion in the U.S. alone.
GroundLink may have a first-mover advantage over Limos.com in mobile, but Clark claims Limos.com has more global reach and "is number one online."
For both companies and other regional players it will be a tough, long rode taming what Clark characterizes as "this super-fragmented industry."