On March 17, over 300 travel industry leaders from forty states met with Washington, D.C. policymakers to talk about the travel industry. The event, as reported by Global Travel Industry News, was an opportunity for policymakers to gain a better understanding of why the travel industry is one of the strongest industries in the nation and to celebrate its role as an “essential economic contribution.” Industry leaders met with policymakers and encouraged them to support the travel industry with policies that are pro-growth, pro-competition and pro-traveler. These policies included those that would modernize transportation infrastructure and maintain the US as a welcoming destination that still has strong national security. The event also recognized lawmakers and government officials who continue to support the health and growth of travel businesses nationwide.
At EmpireCLS, we’re proud to be a part of such a robust travel industry, and applaud both our lawmakers and the leaders in attendance who advocated for the issues that are central to the industry today. However, we can’t help feeling disappointed that Global Travel Industry News didn’t touch on transportation network companies (TNCs), also called ride-sharing apps, in their reportage on the event. TNCs have been a point of concern for the travel industry for the past few years, but have also been an educator. They’ve encroached on traditional travel options with the promise of on-demand rides and cheaper rates, but as we’ve seen over the past few years, those claims haven’t necessarily held up. They’ve also pushed the traditional ground transportation industry into technological innovations.
TNCs have been disruptive in all senses of the world, as we’ve written about extensively over the past year. Their presence has led to protests by medallion taxi drivers in cities like Paris, who see the apps as occupying at best a legal gray area and at worst a definitely unlawful one. TNCs have also caused trouble for the passengers that they supposedly protect, with reports of incompetent or violent drivers and complaints about “price surging” belying TNCs’ flattering self-presentation. However, they’re not going anywhere any time soon, and it’s foolish not to look at what traditional providers can learn from them. Namely, the convenience of using a mobile app to request on-demand transportation service is clearly something that customers have come to expect. It’s now up to the ground transportation industry to incorporate technologies like apps into their operations to deliver the best customer service possible. We hope that policymakers will take these issues into consideration as they act to support the travel industry.
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