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ICABBI'S TAXI ALLIANCE LAUNCHED: What is it and how will it affect the industry?

iCabbi is going where no other dispatch provider has gone before… into direct partnership with its customers. The Taxi Alliance is a unique business model designed to bring security to the taxi and private hire industry in the UK and Ireland, and unite fleets to work together for the benefit of the trade. The Taxi Alliance came into effect on 31 March with over 200 companies, representing upwards of 35,000 cars as members. This makes it the largest taxi alliance in the world. We caught up with Gavan Walsh, CEO of iCabbi, to find out more.

Q: What’s the purpose of the Alliance?

The aim of the Taxi Alliance is to help fleets unite as a national movement to defend and grow their businesses. The Taxi Alliance:

  • Provides security to iCabbi customers that the software that is vital to the operation, growth and success of their businesses will continue to be developed in their best interest

  • Facilitates market-specific product R&D in collaboration with taxi fleets, so taxi companies get a say in the product they need to succeed

  • Enables the development of a national taxi brand that allows taxi companies to thrive locally while taking part in a brand that passengers, drivers, businesses, and government organizations all over the UK & Ireland will recognise and use

  • Use the power of numbers to develop new commercial opportunities for fleets

  • Facilitate the sharing of knowledge/best practices between fleets.

Q: Outside of these collective goals and benefits for fleets, what do they get on an individual basis?

Yes, being a member means being a part of this collective movement to unite the industry and work together to grow opportunities for the taxi industry. Specifically, members also get:

  • Opportunity to own a stake by buying shares

  • Voting rights

  • Best pricing

  • Digital marketing support to help grow their businesses.

Q: It’s a significant change in how you do business and in the traditional relationship between tech provider and customer. What spurred the decision to create the Taxi Alliance?

The short answer is that our customers want security, or need it even, in order to continue planning for the future success of their companies. We devised the Taxi Alliance to give customers security that their technology won’t be sold out to a competitor as has happened in the Autocab-Uber case. Autocab, which should have been acting in the interest of its customers, has instead allowed Uber to access markets within the UK that it hitherto has been prevented to enter by local regulators. Autocab has attempted to frame this as a good news story, lauding a strategic move that brings more bookings to their customers. In reality, it’s a Trojan horse, and most people can see through it. They sold out their customers. Given this background, it’s understandable that all fleets are now nervous that their tech provider may also go this way and stitch them up. They’re vulnerable. We want to be a true partner to the industry and so we’ve created an entity that facilitates true partnership and gives customers the confidence and strength to continue asserting their market position and to grow and expand into new areas. Did I say short answer…?

Q: What’s different about the day-to-day then once the Taxi Alliance comes into effect? Will the price change?

Yes, and it has to. We’re moving to a transparent pricing model. It’s about fairness – everyone should be asked to pay the same in return for the same technology and service. And it’s about value – and by value I mean delivering a valuable offering, not ‘value’ in the ‘bargain basement’ sense. We need to maintain quality, and invest in delivering innovation to the market, so it is important that the product is priced reasonably to ensure we all stay in business! For some customers the Taxi Alliance pricing will actually be a reduction in what they pay, for the majority it is cost-neutral and for others it is a marginal increase. But for everyone it is fair. Our goal here is to be sustainable. We have the best interest of our fleets and the industry in mind. Our customers get the best software on the market and a partner that they can trust and who is truly committed to the market. They get value.

Q: Is the Taxi Alliance just for existing iCabbi customers or can anyone join?

Any taxi fleet in the UK or Ireland that switches to the iCabbi platform will be offered the same terms as current customers. They can be a member of the Alliance or they can be a customer. We’ve had lots of inquiries from fleets recently about this. Some want to switch because they can see that the iCabbi tech stack is the best offering on the market and that we have begun innovating and releasing new products once more. For others, they want to switch because of the Taxi Alliance itself, the sentiment behind it, and what it means for the future of the sector.

Q: You mentioned new product releases there… What have you brought out?

The entire iCabbi platform is being revamped right now. We brought in new product leadership mid-last year and the impact is now very, very visible. People are now seeing regular new releases. The cumulative impact will be a vastly improved product suite by the end of 2022.

Gavan Walsh, CEO of iCabbi,

We’ve finally – I know this took a long time, brought out our new Driver App on Android and IOS is coming soon. Fleets are crying out for more drivers and this app is very stylish and easy to use and the new dev framework means we can deliver new features in quick succession, which is a problem we had with the old architecture. Our VoicePlus+ has been a phenomenal success with customers. It brings me back to the early days of iCabbi where we saw this instant impact of our tech on customers’ businesses. It basically is intelligent voice recognition that allows a passenger to provide a new pick up or destination with voice input. Before it was just a keypress for choosing 1-2-3 Historic bookings but now they can speak new destinations which means those calls are no longer being redirected into the call centres. We’re seeing overnight leaps in automation by about 20% which has the knock-on effect of dramatically reducing wage bills… So yeah, customers love it and we are all buzzing about it. Our passenger app is doing really well too. It looks brilliant which is important for consumers and it has a number of enhancements to improve usability recently. I love checking out the ratings on the stores and they’ve climbed recently and are consistently good which is definitely testament to the work. There’s a really talented team on the app and they’ve got lots in their pipeline. We’re also investing in developing Dispatch. iCabbi is hands down the most powerful dispatch engine out there. The complexity however is a bit of a double-edged sword in terms of what it means for future R&D, so the team are now streamlining the product to enhance scalability and – the bit fleets will love - working on new features around optimisation and driver positioning. There is a real sense of momentum building in-house and customers have already seen some delivery but will see plenty more in the coming months.

Part of the value of the Taxi Alliance is that it facilitates market-specific product R&D. The Product Council will help to steer the roadmap, making sure the right features are prioritised and that we continue to drive the frontier of taxi innovation.

Q: What will make or break the Taxi Alliance?

Members participation. The bigger the Alliance is, the better the outcome for every individual company within it, and it’s not just about joining but really embracing the Alliance and contributing to it. People actively engaged in making it a success is what will make it a success. The Taxi Alliance allows us to take control. Gone are the days when one local taxi firm competed against another. We have a global competitor now and we all need to unite and work together in order to ensure the survival of this deep-rooted industry. I’m confident that the taxi industry has a bright future if we forge a path together – but everyone needs to play their part.


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