Uber may get all the press and the B2C realm may get relatively higher wattage in the spotlight, but the fact remains that corporate travelers need to get places, too. Technology is making inroads (pun intended) to make it happen faster, while helping the back office at the same time.
In just one recent announcement, U.K.-based CityFleet Networks, a ground transport provider, has unveiled a mobile app that has come on the heels of an online booking presence and the rebranded launch earlier this year of its corporate segment, CityFleet Business. The mobile app, as might be expected, gives corporate users the ability to book transportation, regardless of location, 24/7.
In an interview with PYMNTS, CityFleet Business Sales Director Sean McDonagh stated that the overall goal of the technology push is to make sure that the firm “can’t fail to be available” and noted that the business model that exists for comparison between, say, CityFleet and Uber is not identical. There’s the obvious focus, said McDonagh, "on the consumer for Uber, which means that it is essentially an on-demand service,” whereas the CityFleet relationship with corporates is a contractual one.
McDonagh said that the interface between a corporation and the CityFleet operation can exist across booking preferences, say, for U.K. cabs or limousines. Or, in the event of larger group trips, with a bit more notice, buses can be chartered. With the exception of longer bus lead times, said the executive, the turnaround time between request for a ride and pickup is within 15 minutes, opposed to more consumer-oriented operations, where wait time is determined by vehicle proximity and availability.
The booking system itself, said McDonagh, has the ability to put clients in touch with more than 130 vendors located in London, having even greater reach across the U.K. More than 14,000 trips are processed daily in the city. In reference to the black cabs, where the firm has direct access to more than 2,500 vehicles, and a significant third-party vendor presence with self-employed drivers or private hire fleets that typically encompass limousine services, users can track journeys or stipulate that vehicles wait at their destination for the return trip.
There’s been a positive lift for some transport choices themselves, said McDonagh, who noted that, in the past, the changes in booking and other travel technologies have left taxi operators behind and that taxis, as a percent of travel spend, have been relatively low at 5 percent. However, inclusion has been growing.
On the corporate client’s side, CityFleet offers customizable usage, where the firm has leeway over who can actually use the system – as in, say, the road warriors themselves, the people who manage them or those who deal in procurement. Security features, said McDonagh, include restricted access, PINs and, depending on the device, fingerprint security options.
As might be expected, heavy users of the corporate travel offerings include financial firms and law firms. For the users themselves, there’s ease of transactions, which do not involve, for example, gathering receipts or handling tangible cards. The expense reporting is automated and generated on a frequency basis preferred by the client’s back office. Future service roadmaps for the firm include payments functionality added to the platform, said McDonagh.