CEO and Co-founder of Blacklane
LuxuryBARED interviews the CEO and Co-founder of Blacklane – our chauffeur drive partner – about carbon offsetting, traffic free cities and driverless cars.
By way of an introduction, could you please explain what you offer clients in a few words, and what makes you stand out from the crowd?
Blacklane is the global chauffeur and concierge service. We provide premium rides in more than 250 cities and 50 countries and at more than 500 airports worldwide. Travellers get a consistent, familiar, high-quality experience every time. It includes English-speaking drivers, airport meet-and-greet service and all-inclusive fares that are half the price of legacy limousine companies. In addition, Blacklane PASS offers airport concierge service, such as fast-track immigration and lounge access, at over 500 airports worldwide, often in combination with the airport transfer.
In your opinion, what would you say is the main motivating factor for anyone to travel with you and use your services?
Travellers choose Blacklane for our quality. That includes our website or apps, where you can book a ride in seconds. On the ground, it means a vehicle from a premium automaker like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, or Cadillac. Behind the scenes, it means 24/7 multilingual customer service on the phone, email, social media and full duty of care.
You say you offset all Blacklane rides with Carbon Footprint. How does this work?
Carbon Footprint Ltd. is the U.K. government’s provider to offset carbon dioxide emissions from ministerial travel. We share our global ride data with them. The information includes ride distance and the make, model and year of each vehicle that performs rides. Carbon Footprint then calculates the carbon emissions. We offset those by funding a wind farm in India.
If Milan, Oslo, Madrid and others go car-free very soon, how will this affect your business and how will you adapt?
The proposed bans we’ve seen are typically limited to a small part of city centers or to a type of car, such as ones with a diesel engine or a personal vehicle. Therefore, Blacklane will still be allowed to pick up and drop off passengers as we do now, especially as we build our electric or hybrid vehicle fleets, which are becoming increasingly available. In all cities, we work with local partners to understand both regulation and the best routes to make travel as stress-free as possible.
All cars on the road in the UK (and beyond?) will be hybrids by 2040 which is a great move forward. How do you see this fitting in with your ethos?
This is perfect for us. Ride services have a special obligation to take care of both people and the planet. That’s why we were the first ride company to offset its global carbon footprint. We are adding electric and hybrid vehicles to our fleet each month and will continue to do so.
What about driverless cars? If you embrace this technology, how do you see Blacklane being able to offer the same high standards of service?
As autonomous technology improves, we will increase our standard of service. When chauffeurs no longer have to hold steering wheels 100 percent of the time, they will be free to offer new services. For example, they could assist travellers with their local itineraries. They could become the greeter in the airport. Or, chauffeurs could add executive protection services. Another option is chauffeurs offering personalised tours. They could drive around a historic area and then exit the vehicle to explore a sight in detail while the vehicle parks itself. The vehicle could then pick up the group somewhere else to resume the in-vehicle part of the tour. There are many possibilities out there and Blacklane cannot wait until autonomous cars are hitting the road.