The Changing Ride Booking Industry
It’s no secret that the ride booking industry has transformed over the past few years. The rise of applications like Uber and Lyft – with their accompanying features and conveniences – have changed consumers’ expectations of ridership experiences and challenged many traditional taxicab services. Why risk not being able to flag down a cab driver when you could book ahead of time from your personal device, making selections based on your needs and exact location?
Still, many modern ride booking companies are limited in their services. Uber and Lyft require drivers to use their own vehicles, and do not require the extensive training and vetting that cab companies do. What’s more, these companies often do not offer vehicles or riding arrangements that are accessible for riders with disabilities or special requirements. As well, some riders – particularly seniors and those less comfortable with technology – prefer to book trips over the phone, an option not readily available through many large ride booking companies.
As the industry developed over the past decade, it became clear that a gap in the ride booking market was emerging – one which the founders of zTrip aimed to fill.
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The New Face of Taxi: zTrip
zTrip was founded in January 2018 as “the new face of taxi” – a hybrid between traditional taxi service and the modern convenience of ride booking applications. The company, based in Kansas City, transports approximately 18 million passengers per year across the United States. Like traditional taxi cabs, riders may book a ride over the phone or hail a zTrip vehicle wherever they are – or, like the mobile applications offered by Uber and Lyft, they may book trips on the robust zTrip app, complete with saved payment methods, up-to-the-minute updates, and ride and driver preference selection capabilities.
Unlike other ride booking services, zTrip makes it a priority to cater to vulnerable passengers – especially those with accessibility issues, elderly passengers, and children. Whether it is working with school districts to safely transport students to and from school or picking up elderly patients from surgery in wheelchair-accessible vehicles, the safety and reliability zTrip offers are bar none. Of course, zTrip also serves business travelers, medical brokers, night-shift workers, and late-night socializers – even offering shipping services for hassle-free deliveries.
Also unique to zTrip is its trusted national presence. All 4,000 active vehicles – mostly late-model Sedans and crossover SUVs – are owned and operated by zTrip, making for a smooth and consistent ride experience wherever riders are. Through its numerous partnerships with U.S. cities, zTrip empowers local on-demand transportation and logistics operators to make world-class, managed ridership experiences available to their communities.
Mobile Driver Connectivity: Management and Reporting Hurdles
Each of the approximately 4,000 drivers employed by zTrip relies on an in-vehicle, company-provided mobile Samsung Galaxy tablet device for their day-to-day work – including receiving ride requests, taking calls from riders, and following GPS directions.
As zTrip continued to grow and hire new drivers, managing these thousands of devices spread across the country began to pose a significant logistical challenge.
Derrick Hilmoe, Business Development Manager at zTrip, recalls the difficulties firsthand.
“We were managing thousands and thousands of individual devices through our multiple carrier direct relationships… it was so difficult to wrap my head around what devices were out there, how many were being used, and what excess devices we could have shed.”
In addition to the sheer quantity of devices in need of management, while under direct carrier contracts, Hilmoe was unable to get the insights and reporting that he needed to effectively manage zTrip’s program.
“It was almost impossible to get a report within a week, by which time the information was already dated – I couldn’t trust that I could use it to make a decision that would make sense for our business.”
On top of the management headaches, the cost of mobile data across all of zTrip’s in-fleet devices began to skyrocket. Hilmoe and the rest of the zTrip team knew there must be a better way.
Connecting with Kajeet
zTrip executives travel to The Transportation Alliance (TTA) annual and quarterly conferences, where they met Kajeet in 2018. After hearing what Kajeet could offer zTrip from a data and device management, reporting and analytics, and cost perspectives, they realized Kajeet was the right connectivity vendor for their organization.
zTrip signed on with Kajeet in late 2018, and immediately began a pilot program with a few of its subsidiaries. Seeing success in the pilot, zTrip officially launched the Kajeet solution, and little by little moved the bulk of their twenty subsidiary businesses over to the Kajeet Sentinel platform.
Tracking Results: Cost Savings and Efficiency
As Hilmoe reports, the numbers speak for themselves. From a cost perspective alone, the partnership has been worthwhile.
“We have almost been able to cut our monthly operating costs for wireless services in half, which is huge for us.”
Related: Lowering the Cost of Your Data Rate Plan
From a reporting and analytics perspective, the Kajeet Sentinel administrator platform has allowed zTrip staff to continually monitor data usage and program health, empowering them to make informed decisions without the delays they had previously experienced.
“I love the fact that everything is real-time… I can dial in and see what’s out there. It’s just been so much easier to manage in Kajeet’s world,” says Hilmoe.
Likewise, the Kajeet Sentinel platform affords the zTrip team the scalability and flexibility they need to manage an ever-changing program. Hilmoe reports that there are typically one or two zTrip staff members at each operations site who manage their location’s devices through Sentinel – shifting data from one device to another, activating and deactivating devices, and flagging lost or stolen devices wherever needed.
Hilmoe reports that the data and device management capabilities offered by the Sentinel platform make a significant business difference for zTrip in the day-to-day.
“I can activate or cancel devices at the drop of a hat… there’s no penalty there for me. I don’t have to worry about spending $200 to cancel a line, which means substantial savings for our business and helps us keep our costs competitive.”
Related: 4 Ways the Kajeet Sentinel® Platform Makes Your Life Easier
From Hilmoe’s viewpoint, the zTrip-Kajeet partnership is just getting started. In addition to rolling out all new devices with Kajeet, Hilmoe hopes to extend the Kajeet data offering directly to the driver in the future once zTrip is able to allow drivers to use their own mobile devices on the road.
“There is so much growth ahead in the industry, and zTrip is glad to bring Kajeet along with us for the ride.”