FORT LAUDERDALE, FL—Being able to manage and track transportation services efficiently at a property has its benefits, especially when guest information for requests, reservations, pickups and drop-offs is available through a cloud-based fleet management platform instead of pen and paper.
“I used to be in the computer business many years ago,” said Izzy Fintz, VP of sales at ShuttleQ.com. “I sold my company, and I went to work for a publicly traded company, NTAP Network Appliance. During that time, my father operated hospitality real estate—one of [the properties]got destroyed during Hurricane Wilma, so he asked me to come help him in the hotel business.”
Fintz agreed, and made his way to the Fort Lauderdale Airport/Cruise Port Inn, one of the properties his father had been managing. Once there, Fintz learned of the property’s courtesy shuttle service, which the hotel had been managing and documenting via pen, paper and clipboards.
“Every day, we would have five to six clipboards with three to four sheets, each documenting everyone who was supposed to be picked up, dropped off and where,” Fintz said. “These clipboards were all handwritten. They were very hard to read, even though they contained very valuable guest information, including name, contact information and even room numbers.”
There had to be a better way, he thought. He turned to technology for a potential solution, but found nothing; it was time to find an alternative.
“I looked for software, but there was no software solution out there that even came close to providing a viable alternative, so I gathered my own development team and started writing the specs of what our own made-from-scratch solution had to have,” he said. “We created the software two and a half years ago, and have been using it successfully ever since.”
A cloud-based fleet management platform provider, ShuttleQ enables properties with transportation services to manage fleet and transportation. Updated in real time, the platform allows hotel management and drivers to access guest information for requests, reservations, pickups and drop-offs. The ShuttleQ software can be accessed anywhere with a mobile or internet connection. All platform updates are automatically shared with properties.
“With ShuttleQ, the guest calls for a pickup request, the front desk staff collects very basic information, including name, location, contact info and amount of people in their party,” Fintz said. “The system assigns a driver, the driver picks up the party and drops them off where they need to go—every step is tracked with a time stamp. No calls, no checkups tying up the front desk, and—most of all—accountability.”
He continued: “If any step is missing along the way, or has been completed in an unreasonable amount of time, the open ticket will show. Likewise, if the guest claims to have not been picked up or have waited too long, we have their request and pickup times right on screen.”
There’s a reporting component to the software. This module gives properties the ability to pull data and compare drivers. It also helps properties determine the best routes or reassign drivers based on efficiency.
“ShuttleQ also has a guest feedback component that requests feedback in terms of ratings or reviews after a completed pickup from guests who provide their email address—we pull that data as well to see how we are doing and leverage that information to improve our shuttle service,” Fintz said. “When a dissatisfied guest is updated about their shuttle service, we now have a tool to show the guest the time they first called to request pickup, time of pickup, drop-off and total time elapse. When accurate times are put in perspective, guests tend to be more understanding.”
Properties can also use ShuttleQ to resolve parking management issues. The platform keeps track of every guest vehicle. Parking managers can see how many spaces are filled, how many are empty or if any guest’s vehicle has overstayed the pickup date and needs to be charged more.
“It gets even more confusing to manage parking with guests booking from third-party sites like Expedia—with more than 80 companies selling parking spaces for hotel lots, there is simply no way to keep track of it all without a software like ShuttleQ,” the executive explained.
ShuttleQ’s cost is based on usage: the more pickups, the more the cost. Properties don’t need to purchase any specific proprietary hardware. A typical hotel with 100 rooms will pay about $150 per month for the service.
“On Google and Yelp, 43% of all negative reviews by hotel guests are based on the quality of the hotel’s transportation service,” Fintz said. “For 43% of guests, an opinion of a hotel has already been established before they even get to the destination. Shuttle transportation, parking services and fleet management are an essential part of any hospitality business that relies on getting guests from point A to point B. Transportation to and from the hotel is the first and last impression a guest has—overall guest experience shouldn’t be ruined by delays and miscommunication caused by inefficient, outdated transportation management methods.”
Clients include Hollywood, FL-based Triangle Management and Lewisville, TX-based NewcrestImage. ShuttleQ also serves a ski resort in New Mexico.
“The biggest competitor for ShuttleQ is those clipboards with scrap pieces of paper—that is what 90% of all hotels with shuttle transportation still use,” Fintz said. “Some use Excel and Google spreadsheets. There are other software solutions out there for transportation, but they’re mainly for limousine or taxi services; they do not integrate with parking, and they don’t handle a large amount of guests going to multiple locations.”
By 2018, ShuttleQ is expected to complete its full credit card integration and billing, as well as its kiosk feature. The current platform also tracks flight info; however, in the new year, the platform will update the data automatically. The cloud-based fleet management software company is also working with an airline-staffing agency to handle transportation for airline crews in the coming year.
“On the guest and customer side, in addition to the kiosk feature, we will be implementing a feature where properties using ShuttleQ can put an LCD screen in their lobbies, so that guests can see where the shuttles are, and integrate it with a flight arrival and departure board,” Fintz said. HB