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Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Recently I wrote a blog post on “Donate your Desktop” a New Zealand organization that had thought outside the box and found an untapped advertising/social entrepreneurial opportunity. In this post I am going to write about Taxiback.com a British company whose similar innovative thinking has enabled them to find a new untapped market to offer consumers cheaper transportation.

So what is Taxiback.com?

Every day across the world taxis take passengers to the airport and other destinations, charge their fee, drop the passengers off and then often return to their base empty. Essentially the empty ride back to base is a missed opportunity, to gain additional revenue from potential passengers heading in the same direction. Taxiback.com has capitalized on this previous missed opportunity, by providing the technology to create a return load service which links taxi drivers to potential passengers.

How it works:

Potential passengers enter where they are traveling to and from and the site functions as an auction where taxi drivers can place bids. Within 24 hours the 3 lowest bids are sent to the passenger, who can then arrange their transportation direct with the taxi company they select.

The benefits:

The cab companies and their drivers’ benefit from extra revenue and tips they wouldn’t have otherwise received, while passengers benefit from lower fares. This concept is also sustainable saving fuel and time.

I think this start-up has a lot of potential and could work well in other countries. I particularly could picture it in the larger US cities. However, my take home message from this concept is for readers to consider what other missed opportunities may exist in their industry, to rethink a task in order to create new sources of revenue as taxiback.com have done.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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Imagine arriving at a hotel, tired after traveling and being able to skip the front desk and head straight to your room. Sounds good right? Such a situation is the reality for guests staying at hotels, which use OpenWays.

So what is OpenWays?

OpenWays is a global solution provider of mobile access-management and security solutions, which is paving the way for Near Field Communication (NFC) technology by offering a solution that works with today’s cell phones. OpenWays provide a web-based mobile phone application that automatically adapts to the phone to offer hotel customers a secure way to access their hotel rooms.

This solution is currently being tested at selected Holiday Inn and Choice Hotels across the world. Guests staying at these hotels can download the application onto their smart phone prior to arrival. They then receive a text message with their room number and upon arrival can unlock their room with their cell phone. The application may also enable a customer to order room service or other hotel services from their phone. This video shows the process at Holiday Inn:

OpenWays cell phone compatibility

OpenWays is compatible with all cell phone network technologies. Current smart phone companies OpenWays support include Microsoft, Apple, Blackberry, and Google Android among others.

Why would a hotel purchase OpenWays?

Simply put OpenWays offers hotels the opportunity to provide a faster more convenient option to bypass the front desk at check in, potentially enhancing the customer experience. The solution definitely sounds like a convenient option to avoid waiting in line after a long flight or car journey. Using OpenWays also enables a hotel to save on the costs of purchasing room keys and it can be incorporated into an organization’s sustainability plan. The technology works in a way that locks could still have card slots for guests who are less technology savvy.

There is potentially no limit to how mobile technologies can continue to change and enhance the customer experience in many industries. But what do you think of OpenWays? Would you want to use your cell phone as your hotel room key? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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With gas prices continuing to increase, it’s hard to imagine being able to travel hundreds of miles on any form of transportation for just $1.50. Yet such a concept is the reality for customers of megabus.com in the east coast, southeast and mid west regions of the U.S.

I first came across Megabus about 8 years ago as a college student studying at the University of Edinburgh. Back then I would take Megabus to Glasgow for shopping trips for £1 each way. Typically with booking fees this worked out as the equivalent of just under $5 for what was approximately a 100 mile round trip. The company’s double-decker buses had plenty of space and while I found the train to be more efficient time-wise for long distance trips to London, the Megabus ticket price for advance travel was hard to beat.

In recent years Megabus owned by the British Stagecoach group has entered the U.S. and Canadian markets offering fares as low as $1 one way plus a $0.50 booking fee. The buses are clean and a lot more appealing in an attempt to readdress the seedy image many Americans have of bus travel. Each bus has wi-fi, power outlets at each seat, flat screen TVs showing movies, panoramic windows and it’s a green way to travel.

Megabus’ business model works by using a yield management model to incrementally increase ticket prices as the departure date nears. This business is reliant on numbers and like Southwest the people booking last-minute pay more, to offset the customers with discounted tickets. In addition Megabus has extremely low overhead. All bookings are made online eliminating ticket agent staffing. Furthermore, Megabus does not have its own terminals, picking up passengers on city streets.

Megabus rethought bus transportation in order to achieve success in a mature industry. Last year Bloomberg Businessweek did a feature on the company entitled “The Megabus Effect” stating that bus travel is now the fastest growing way to travel in the U.S. The article also stated that Megabus had 2010 revenues of approximately $100 million and is continuing to grow.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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In recent years sustainability has been covered in the business press as an issue that should merit serious business consideration. However, in spite of its extensive media support many business leaders continue to dismiss sustainability as too expensive and under interpret it’s meaning as ‘going green’.

The more I read about sustainability the more apparent it becomes to me what an opportunity this could be for smart businesses if leveraged strategically. Wirtenberg, Harmon and Fairfield (2010) describe sustainability as a company’s ability to achieve its goals and increase long-term shareholder value by integrating economic, environmental and social opportunities into its business strategies to ensure the continued success and strength of the organization for future generations.

Sustainability is much more than going green. In actuality many businesses are already inadvertently adhering to sustainable approaches through their community involvement, recycling and flexible work practices. What a sustainability initiative does is to tie together all these disparate activities into a strategic objective.

Here are five reasons why organizations should consider sustainability initiatives:

1. Enhance brand image
Organizations that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability can leverage this strategic objective to enhance their image with their customers, suppliers, employees, the media and other stakeholders. Sustainability can also be incorporated into marketing efforts as Patagonia has demonstrated through their commitment to sustainability throughout their supply chain.

2. Improve talent acquisition
Many people, particularly my generation (y) aspire to work for organizations that are socially responsible and that they can be proud to represent. A SHRM report demonstrated that a sustainable corporate image could help organizations to attract the best applicants and greater engage current employees.

3. Maintain a competitive edge
Depending upon your organization’s competitive environment sustainability can help prevent losing sustainable focused customers to competitors and or differentiate your organization from the competition. In industries where sustainability initiatives have barely been embraced, opportunities exist for organizations to achieve short-term competitive advantage from being the first mover.

4. Stay ahead of regulations
It is expected that the future will bring increased regulations in regards to sustainability. By getting started now your business can move up the learning curve, becoming better prepared for future legislative changes.

5. Save money
In addition to potential energy cost savings, sustainability initiatives can enable organizations to become eligible for government financial incentives, including subsidies, tax credits, tax exemptions and low-interest loan programs. The federally funded extensive DSIRE database details federal, state and local government incentive programs for organizations of all sizes pursuing sustainable initiatives.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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