Blacklane’s chauffeur service sweetens the business travel experience

Dr Jens Wohltorf and Frank Steuer, co-founders of Blacklane. Source: Blacklane

WITH the boom of mobile-friendly ride-hailing services, there’s no shortage of transport options for business travelers when they touch down in a new country.

But professional driver service Blacklane – with two thirds of its clients using it for business – is setting itself apart by introducing to travelers a more “integrated” approach to getting around.

“Typically, customers book a hotel, and they book a flight. So they book fragments of a trip, but nobody is actually connecting the dots,” Blacklane co-founder and CEO Dr Jens Wohltorf told Travel Wire Asia.

“This is what Blacklane is there for, to pick people up from their doorstep at home and deliver them to the airport. And in the destination where Blacklane is present, we pick them up at the gate with a driver and a pick-up sign and bring them to a hotel. So it becomes a door-to-door experience.”

On top of that, the company integrates with airlines and online travel agencies (OTAs) so that business travelers can book their rides on a singular platform without switching apps.

Blacklane’s fleet is made up of luxury vehicles. Source: Blacklane

Wohltorf said, “It’s very streamlined. From a travel management perspective, they want to know that their employees are taken care of and safe.”

The Blacklane for Business option allows users to collate monthly invoices, and makes it easier for employers or finance managers to track their employees’ movements while traveling.

One of the obstacles Blacklane currently faces is a general perception that their services are expensive, what with their fleet being made up of luxury vehicles, and their network of drivers dressed in dark suits and ties.

But in reality, the platform is beating taxi prices on many airport runs.

“It’s luxury in terms of comfort and customer experience, but not in terms of price point.”

“We achieve this by a smarter utilization of cars, less idle time, less empty rides, and less standing around,”  Wohltorf said.

Furthermore, rates are all-inclusive regardless of special requests or unexpected toll charges. “We make sure there are consistencies when it comes to rate inclusion. When you’re traveling from Hong Kong to Kowloon, you need to go under a tunnel, and there’s a toll fee. Or there might be other parking and levies involved,” Blacklane’s regional director for Asia Pacific Lo Li-Wen told Travel Wire Asia.

“But Blacklane’s rate structure is such that it’s all-inclusive – it’s the only rate that you pay and it’s very transparent. You would have access to the rates before you even arrive.”

SEE ALSO: Why the sharing economy is a boon for business travel

Recently, the company joined forces with Malaysia Airlines and its Enrich Frequent Flyer Programme so that travelers can earn miles with every dollar spent on Blacklane. From December, travelers can earn two miles for every US dollar, euro or pound spent on the driver service.

Blacklane currently operates in 84 cities in Asia Pacific, and will be expanding its footprint in the coming year.

“We’ve just expanded our [Asia Pacific] footprint last year to be at the same level as Europe and North America so that we cover all those three big regions equally well. Altogether, we’re serving 54 countries, 260 cities. Pretty much everywhere a business traveler would usually go,” Wohltorf said.