The New Cabcharge Boss Says All Those Taxi Apps Just Have A Better Image

The new boss of Cabcharge says his new competitors are better at selling their message (Photo: Getty Images)

The new boss of Cabcharge has told the AFR all the new taxi apps in Australia don’t do anything particularly new — but they have better PR.

Traditionally Cabcharge has dominated taxi bookings and payments in Australia. But its market share is under threat from a host of taxi start ups — think Live Taxi Epay, GoCatch, InGogo and Uber — that provide an alternative to its services.

“One of the more acute challenges we have is around the messaging – we had smartphone apps before any of the new competitors to book taxis and track them,” said Cabcharge CEO Andrew Skelton. “This is not a battle of technology, it is a battle of PR and marketing.”

It’s also a battle over price though. Some of those new apps charge a lower surcharge for credit card payments, which is part of the reason they’re gaining traction with customers and drivers.

And perhaps most importantly, while it is true they all perform a similar service, there’s a difference in the quality of the technology. It is not just the end result customers care about but rather, how easy the service is to use.

Cabcharge still has a huge chunk of the market — and made around $60 million profit in 2012 and 2013 — but it is now under threat from an increasing number of small, nimble outfits that compete for a sector it once had a virtual monopoly in.

On top of these worries, a lot of its profit traditionally comes from surcharges. Victoria has capped these and Sydney will soon follow.

It is fair to say these new taxi apps have a more positive image which has resonated with a certain contemporary, tech-literate crowd. But it’s only part of the reason they pose a real threat to the Cabcharge business.

Skelton comes to the helm after the death of founder Reg Kermode, and at a metaphorical changing of the guard in the Australian taxi industry.

There’s more here.

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