Once a year the heads of Europe’s largest radio circuits meet in a different location to discuss new developments in the taxi business: threats as well as opportunities.
This year Rauno Moisander of the Finnish Tampere radio circuit hosted the 35-strong ERTA-group (European Radio Taxi Association) on May 22 and 23. The meeting’s main aim: to learn from each other and discuss any topic in complete confidence. TAXIintell was privileged to be invited.
The main topic this year? Apps! And if apps, and particularly Uber, have shown taxi companies one thing, it is how to create a trendy buzz and how to monitor the entire service chain – from booking until receipt. Something for radio circuits to copy and further improve on. Despite the regulatory delaying tactics, the apps are here to stay, as inspiration, competition and (perhaps) even as client. “I don’t know what can stop them”, said one CEO. “We just have to better than them.”
The two-day ERTA-meetings have a set agenda: an overview of what all companies are working on and what happened during the past year, followed by a visit to the local taxi company. The second day is reserved for guest speakers: Professor James Cooper pointed out ‘surprising’ outcomes of on-line surveys which Uber-supporters tried to ‘influence’). ERTA-Chairman Geoffrey Riesel (Radio Taxis Group, London) borrowed the example of ‘Who moved my cheese’ to motivate his colleagues to keep looking for new markets and new forms of marketing: “We have to embrance change and find a new business model. We can’t go against what the customer wants. We can slow the process down with appeals to our regulators, but eventually apps will become our competitors and perhaps even our clients.”
Vincent Stammbach (CEO Ecab alliance) compared the advantages for drivers to work with apps and to work with a radio circuit like G7. Recruiting and retaining drivers and customers is the name of the game for both. Stammbach suggested to learn from the apps’ strengths and reminded his colleagues that “our companies have many extra service options for customers, which they won’t find with apps.”
Another important item on the agenda -partly to do with the activities of apps- was segmentation: many taxi companies are working on segmenting the fleet. With G7 as obvious forerunner in the segmentation stakes (recently adding a Service Plus between top class Club Affaires and ordinary cabs – next to Green Cab, WeCab and MaxiCab), TCA Amsterdam just completed creating its business fleet of 400 out of 1.300 taxis ‘to compete with Uber’. Taxi Stockholm is strengthening its premium brand and eco-cab strategy.
We’ll come back to ERTA soon. In the meantime Helsinki’s radio circuit has teamed up with a local university in carrying out a European benchmarking study comparing radio circuits. Next year’s ERTA-conference will be held in Dublin – a very interesting and still volatile market!
Members of ERTA are: Helsinki Taxi; Radio Taxis Group, London; Tampereen Aluetaksi Oy (Tampere), Taxa 4×35, Kopenhagen; Taxi Stockholm, Taxis G7 Paris, Taxis Verts Brussels; TCA Amsterdam, Tele-taxi 400-400, Lodz; Radio Taxi 033, Manchester Taxis (Mantax); Taxi Bremen; Xpert Taxis, Dublin and Oslo Taxi.
• Over 30 representatives of Europe’s largest taxi radio circuits discussed the outlook for their trade in Tampere.
• Almost a third of the fleet in Tampere (328 taxis) consists of 8 seater maxi-taxis, ranking with other taxis.