This year our annual Technology Summit in Miami Beach (April 29-May 1) fell right into the middle of our Fact Book preparation. As always, this issue brings you the latest snapshot of industry benchmarks and trends, and is a tool you can use to measure and improve your business. Our Fact Book and Summit timing was a fortunate conincidence, since both of these offerings in the LCT portfolio point our way forward as an industry.
Summit Strives For Deep Connections
First, let me just underscore how much of a labor of love goes into our Summit. I lead a small team that devoted a lot of time and energy to planning, marketing, and hosting this event. Like no other industry conference or forum, we bring in expert speakers from outside of the industry to help operators understand the biggest challenges facing us. We pull this all off in a luxury, tropical resort environment, where we bring you first-class, five-star amenities in addition to deep education all at a reasonable rate. It’s worth our while to help steer the agenda and inspire the industry’s “top 1%” to take the reins and lead with positive change.
Attendees Get Real On Technology Talk
The Summit broke new ground this year by assembling all of the industry’s major tech players on one panel for a frank, blunt, let-it-all-hang-out discussion on creating an industry wide platform that allows all software systems to connect. More operators have been telling me they want the option to participate in faster real-time ride connections. We heard a variety of viewpoints on the best ways to approach this unified network, and about the hurdles that still must be resolved. There was a clear demand in the room among many of the participants for the industry to get moving on this project.
Some Convenient Facts To Consider
Our nearby Fact Book figures continue to show operators adopting more technology. Like our Fact Book, the Summit overflowed with useful information, which you’ll be reading about in more depth in coming issues of LCT and on our website: Tech isn’t the only area changing fast. The way you market and promote your business now must be more customized so you can relate to different client segments. Trying to win over a DMC versus a travel manager versus a VIP’s assistant require specific marketing messages. Understand first how your client groups perceive your service and message. Then use social and digital media to target your message and speak their language.
Thinking about driverless cars? They’ll still take time to evolve, but the first round could very well start out in closed shuttle circuits and campus environments. If you’re already doing such routine shuttle and transportation loops, you have the expertise to transition to the first driverless modes and group moves.
What Are We Really Competing On?
I can’t say this enough: We’re not competing on price; we’re competing on ease, convenience, value, and service levels. There’s plenty to work with here in being better than Uber and those ridehail services that fail on many fronts. People will only use your service if you fit their unique needs as consumers. Sell your service and products to people who really need and could use them.
Another speaker tied it all together for us, explaining how artificial intelligence and technology should be used to engage customers and build human relationships. In other words, know when to use automated voices and chat bots so they free up time for your employees to interact live about things that matter.
Overall, you have to create client loyalty through positive, can’t-miss experiences and go beyond the satisfaction of just “good enough.” You have to perform over the top so your clients know you are better than average. “Excellence comes from being good all the time,” speaker Shep Hyken told us.
This Industry Knows How To Adapt
When I look at the enthusiasm and keen interest at our Summit, the results from our International LCT Show, and the numbers nearby, I don’t buy the sky’s-falling predictions about our industry. I’ve been down these roads before, and I know this industry can grasp the new big picture and adjust. Keep opening your mind, innovating with new ideas, seeing how you can improve operations, and managing your money with the help of information that technology provides. Then watch the customers and revenues roll in!