I’m a huge, huge fan of OpenTable, the restaurant booking service because, fundamentally, it gives me control and clarity. I know that if I book at table — it’s booked. I don’t have to speak to anybody. I just click a few buttons. I love it.
Compare this with the standard way of booking a sodding taxi? It’s shit, isn’t it?
Only last night I had to call a cab. I used the local firm.
It’s a flipping nightmare. I hate it. I REALLY HATE it. It’s the inefficiency that really gets me.
Here’s how things normally work:
ME: [ring the firm] — they LITERALLY are managed by a guy with a piece of paper and a pencil
THEM: [ Loads of background noise, the pinging of a microwave ] Mumble, mumble … Taxis?
It’s always like this. It often sounds like the taxi office is in the middle of a football match.
ME: “Hi there, can I book a taxi please?”
How stupid is this? I can’t think of anything else to say. I mean, OBVIOUSLY I want a sodding taxi. But I can’t just issue a demand immediately.
ME: “Can you pick me up at 8.45pm at Windsor, going to Marlow?”
THEM: Mumble… Mumble… “Yes. See you then sir.”
Right. But, ok… did you, did you get the right time? Have you made a note of it correctly? Who’s going to pick me up? Do you HAVE my number? How do, who… what kind of car is it? Do you know there are two stations in Windsor and when I say ‘Windsor’ I mean the ‘Eton & Riverside’ one?
That’s what I need to do. I just have to shrug, think to myself, “What a shit service,” and then get on with my day.
Every taxi firm is the same. Some are a little bit more efficient. But broadly speaking, it’s precisely the same experience.
It’s in total need of a revamp, this whole system. I just want to point and click. I want complete control, total clarity — I want an OpenTable for taxis.
And you know what, there’s one coming to the UK: Get Taxi.
What’s exciting about Get Taxi is that it looks like they’re going all out. Big guns. Lots of money, proper infrastructure — a serious, serious play to completely overhaul the way the taxi industry works.
And, of course, by ‘overhaul’, I mean the judicious application of mobile technology to the industry, backed by the necessary infrastructure to support all the players.
Sarah Lacy of TechCrunch picked the news up and offers a good bit of background about the company and the founder.
I’ve written a lot about this kind of thing. Get Taxi is quite possibly a key step toward a better, brighter mobile world. Witness, for example, this post I wrote about ‘trusted context network‘ with an eye on the taxi marketplace. I wrote about the ‘promise of mobile approaching‘ in respect to UberCab (a US competitor to Get Taxi). I also covered TaxiStop recently — I’m not sure how they’re getting on though. Finally, getting the taxi challenge right is a cornerstone of my ‘Cannes Doctrine‘ on the Future of Mobile.
So bring it on. Let’s see what they’ve got to offer.
Hearing about Get Taxi has made my day.