In a world that is constantly being reshaped by rapid advances in technology, business owners are required to incorporate these new technologies into their practices as well as compete with new technology centered businesses. The travel industry, in particular, has been greatly affected by the technology boom of the last few decades.  One of the most disruptive advances in the travel industry has been the creation and subsequent popularity of ride sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft. Most customers prefer to have a certain level of control and convenience when using ride sharing services. Both Uber and Lyft allow the user to choose their pickup location, read information about their driver before they arrive, and track the movement of the car they have hired. This consumer need for knowledge and control over their travel choices also leads people to crowd source trips, something that the app Skedaddle offers to those seeking long distance rides by bus that are not offered by established bus companies. In addition to these social travel options, the idea of driverless vehicles has also become a very real possibility. It is believed that driverless transportation systems could potentially decrease accidents due to driver error and also may reduce the cost of rides by eliminating driving jobs.

            With all these changes in the travel industry, it can seem daunting for business owners to come up with ways to compete. One way that established taxi and limousine companies can compete with ride sharing apps is by creating user friendly and easily accessible mobile platforms. The main appeal of Uber and Lyft is the accessibility and immediacy of their service, but Uber lacks the peace of mind and knowledge that trained taxi drivers possess. That being the case, if a taxi company creates a easy and informative app that customers can use to order cars, read about and rate drivers, and track their cars the taxi company would be able to directly compete with Uber and Lyft. For established bus companied the same would be true, but revamping bus routes and options is equally as important if bus companies want to compete with ride sharing bus apps.

            Competing with driverless transportation systems is more about building upon what driverless vehicles lack rather than catching up with their advances. Technology is always susceptible to hardware malfunctions and computer glitches, which can potentially cause more devastating accidents than a human driver could. Humans are also capable of making quick decisions based on instinct, spatial reasoning, reflexes, and memory. An automated vehicle is not equipped to use these characteristics to avoid accidents and adapt to changes around and inside the vehicle. Drivers are also available to respond to customer questions, protect passengers from danger, and interact with police if need be. These advantages should be presented to customers as a safer and more user friendly alternative to driverless transportation and ridesharing. There will always be customers who have different needs and preferences than others, and so filling the gap where popular new businesses fail is extremely important to the survival of traditional transportation companies.

Change is inevitable. How you embrace and take advantage of it is up to you. So, I encourage you to look at the changes in the marketplace not as disruption but opportunities for you to create more personalized services or experiences for your customers and as a way to discover new and underserved market segments. The marketplace is changing, embrace it and you will win more business.  

Johnny Campbell, DTM, AS

The Transition Man