Nobody can put their finger on the exact value of the taxi industry globally but various estimates peg it at well north of $100 billion annually and growing. Rapidly. Rather unbelievably, 20% of this huge global figure is generated in the greater Tokyo area alone!

Around a third of revenues worldwide are generated by the digital taxi-hailing market (Lyft, Easy Taxi, Grabtaxi Uber, Gett etc.) with their share on the rise, particularly in the developing world. Competition is more than fierce with many companies racking up huge losses in an attempt to grab market share.

Whilst being great news for consumers who can take advantage of some great offers flying around, all is not so rosy for traditional taxi and private-hire companies. How can they hope to attract new clients and retain loyalty given dropping pricing and driving (pun intended) the race to the bottom is no longer a winning strategy, a safe bet? Ride-hailing companies regularly offer new customers sign-up bonuses, friend referrals, so the price cannot be the only battleground. The simple answer is by the smart use of mobile engagement, the ubiquitous SMS being at the heart of it.

95% of SMS are read in less than five minutes of being received and from our taxi clients here at Mitto, we can see this read time is actually far less as there is a high level of expectation inherently present by clients in such transactions.

Wind back the clock a few years and most of us will remember the days of having to peek through the curtains or blinds intermittently to check if the taxi you had ordered by phone had pulled up outside. Those days have been well and truly consigned to the past though thanks to the humble SMS.

Receiving an SMS confirmation at the point of booking, a follow-up text to say the driver is on the way (including the type of vehicle, its colour and even the registration number for added security) and a final one initiated by the driver once they arrive at your requested pick-up location is all very reassuring for the passenger and adds real value. It genuinely enhances their experience and can go a long way to differentiating one taxi company from another. It is surprising how few companies still do not do all three so we see genuine room for improvement here.

Most of the content traditional taxi type companies send is of a transactional nature with little marketing in the mix; they are missing a trick here. Almost all will have built up a large database of client contact numbers which can be used to send enticing offers to their clients. For example, when business is a little slow, a time-specific offer can be sent out to regulars. Given how cost-effective SMS is and its powers of conversion, this is a great way to increase revenues. Companies need to get creative, using targeted discounts and promotions to compete with ride-hailing apps.

The taxi industry has always been a heavy user of SMS and with this channel’s unquestionable versatility, it is easy to see why. Sure, chat app usage is on the rise but no company can assume all of their clients or drivers have smartphones and use just one specific app so until then, SMS transaction volumes will keep on increasing. With our suite of plug-and-play APIs, Mitto can help any taxi-based company move their businesses forward rapidly, and all without requiring a degree from MIT!