18 Sept 2013
Life in the Fast Lane
|Dr Jens Wohltorf, |
Blacklane co-founder and Managing Director
Hong Kong is renowned for its efficient public transport, but sometimes there’s a need for a little privacy. German chauffeur company Blacklane Limousines has recognised this, launching in Hong Kong earlier this year as part of its latest international expansion.
The company uses a technology and partner-based business model to competitively price what was once considered a luxury service.
“Bookings can be made online or with the Blacklane smartphone app,” said Dr Jens Wohltorf, co-founder and Managing Director. “We don’t own our own fleet or employ drivers, but we have our partner companies’ vehicles and chauffeurs to keep the prices low and offer customers comfortable rides at fixed prices.” Gratuities, waiting time and order-processing fees are all included in Blacklane's rates.
Blacklane limousines can be
“With our innovative approach, we've opened up the market for this high-quality product not only to cost-sensitive companies, whose employees often take a taxi, but also to individuals looking to spend a little more on a safe and private way of getting around,” said Dr Wohltorf.
“Before, booking a limousine was expensive and complicated. But with our model, it's easy and, thanks to the efficient use of our car providers' services, considerably cheaper than it used to be.”
|Dr Jens Wohltorf (left) and Frank Steuer, co-founders|
As for vehicles, there are three options: business-class limousines, business vans and first-class sedans.
Blacklane launched its service in Hong Kong and Shenzhen simultaneously in July. Dr Wohltorf said the company had received a lot of customer feedback, “asking us to offer our service in Asia. Hong Kong is the first city because of its outstanding position, but more Asian cities will follow very soon.”
The company sees “very high” potential in Hong Kong, which has the second-largest airport in China, registering 50 million arrivals every year.
“Hong Kong is a fast-growing, high-paced city. It is home to the headquarters of many multinational companies. Its citizens are modern, innovative and interested in new business ideas. Given the daily arrivals of business travellers and the fact that Hong Kong is a business and finance centre of worldwide importance, we are looking forward to a prosperous market entry,” Mr Steuer said.
Blacklane’s services are well-known in Europe and the United States. Dr Wohltorf said customers are mainly business travellers, who are pressed for time when they arrive at the airport and want to have a comfortable, safe and reliable ride to their meeting or hotel. “But locals and tourists also use our service, because they are looking for a more comfortable alternative to the taxi, at a fair and fixed rate.” The service includes a meet-and-greet at the arrival gate, and help with luggage.
While it is not yet possible to offer cross-border service, Blacklane is hoping to change that. “We are currently working on the implementation of cross-border services, as they are already available in our other destinations,” Dr Wohltorf said.