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GROUND TRANSPORT


GROUND TRANSPORT


Change of gear


Costing and managing ground transport has always been a challenge. Does new technology have the potential to bring it under control?


ByROB GILL


hotel room for the best price, it’s often the first and final stages of any business journey that can prove problematic. While the cost of ground transport can


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seem relatively low compared with the price of a flight or accommodation, most business travellers will have experienced the dread of a pre-booked taxi failing to turn up for an early-morning transfer to the airport. Similarly, what happens if you arrive in


an unfamiliar airport or city after a long flight and your pre-arranged transfer just isn’t there? The traveller may be forced to take a local cab – even if their employer has warned against using such services in some destinations. Andy Boland, chief executive of


Addison Lee Group, calls these transfers “the critical final mile” and stresses that


BUYINGBUSINESSTRAVEL.COM


ALKING ABOUT “DOOR- TO-DOOR” TRAVEL is nothing new, but while everybody frets about getting the right flight and


while ground transport has “low ticket value”, it also has “high emotional impact” for the traveller. But ground transport still remains an afterthought in many travel programmes, with the focus understandably continuing to be on those larger chunks of spending. Many organisations still seem content


to deal with ground transport through their expenses systems. But this approach is inevitably fragmented and can create duty-of-care issues – for example, if a taxi or private hire vehicle is involved in an accident, what’s the insurance situation if the traveller is injured? Then there’s the issue of not knowing


how much your company is spending on ground transport and, in consequence, being unable to come up with accurate costs for an entire business trip. Improvements in technology are now offering more solutions to these problems – with traditional providers being forced to tackle these issues by the rapid emergence of ride-hailing titans, such as Uber and Lyft in the US.


There are many reasons why buyers are scrutinising ground transport. American Express Global Business Travel, which has just launched a ground transport platform, says there was a whopping 95 per cent “leakage” rate for ground transport bookings among its clients in 2017.


BUMPY ROAD Many travellers still jump in a cab and claim the expense from their organisation using a handwritten receipt. Research from managed taxi service Cabfind concluded that the majority of UK companies (55 per cent) did not have a defined taxi expense policy, while 51 per cent of employees “round up” a taxi expense claim by an average of 25 per cent. Tipping can add another 13 per cent to the journey cost. As one UK-based travel buyer says:


“Ground transport is something that often gets lost in the mix. We want to tackle it properly, but other priorities get in the way. Ideally, we would like to find one suitable ground transport provider which operates in all our markets.”


BBT July/August 2018 71


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