In 1990 radio circuits in the Scandinavian countries started the Nordic User Group. Initially for the MDI dispatch system, then for Motorola, MDSI and finally for DDS. Nowadays all participants have different fleet management systems, but the group is as tightly-knit as ever.
After a spell as Business and Data User Group it became ERTA, the European Radio Taxi Association, loosely coordinated by chairman Geoffrey Riesel (CEO of London’s Radio Taxis Group in London) and his Paris colleague Serge Metz, CEO of Paris largest radio circuit Taxis G7. Under Riesel and Metz the group found its present shape and size.
“When we chose MDI in 1989 and went live in 1991, we joined the group”, says Metz. “With the name change into Business and Data User Group the group changed its focus. “It became a discussion platform for any company, irrespective of its level of technology”, Riesel adds.
Metz: “The extension happened when we as G7 were looking for international partners to do work for companies which we service in Paris. We invited our best partners: Radio Taxis London, Taxi Verts Brussels, Taxi 033 in Barcelona. So the group grew. It think Geoffrey became chairman in 1998.” Both CEO’s keep in regular touch by email over the next meeting’s topics. They praise the business orientation of ERTA. “I’ve been to the IRU Taxi Group, spent hours discussing politics with a small ‘p’”, comments Riesel. “And I go to the TLPA meetings. But here I really learn from everybody. It’s more practical.”
“For me it’s the same”, adds Metz. “We talk about business and innovation. About new concepts. “ Riesel: “The great thing is that we are all bosses of radio taxi companies, whereas at the IRU you have all sorts of different associations and political influences. That detracts from the business. At ERTA we are all proud to share new concepts. We don’t see each other as competitors.”
How about this meeting? Apps are rather tricky subject. “It was a good meeting”, says Metz. “Unfortunately there was less participation from some members of the group, because their management had just changed and they were new to ERTA. With regard to the topic – apps, we learned that perception of service is at least as important as service. All agreed that we need to deliver, invest in marketing and communications. Especially in social media many taxi companies are lacking.”
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. (This article also appeared in the new international Taxi Times magazine – www.taxi-times.com).
• Geoffrey Riesel (left) and Serge Metz are the driving forces behind the ERTA-group.