‘Luxury Taxi’, Which Is Kakao Taxi’s First Profit Model, Is Used In AdvanceFor Demonstration

Sep 23, 2015

“Watch your step.” “Is the temperature inside the car okay?”

A Chauffeur, who is wearing a suit, got out of BMW 520D and opened a door for his customer. It felt like he was a secretary who is escorting a VIP.

When luxury taxi, which will begin its service in October, was used, it felt like someone was ‘serving’ someone else.

Kakao’s luxury taxi’s appearance is the first thing that stands out. It does not have dome light, which is typically on top of a taxi, and looks just like a normal car. Its only difference is its yellow license plate that signifies that the car is used for purpose of work.

There is cold water in refrigerator, which is located in the backseat, and a chauffeur requests his or her customers to wear a seatbelt politely after checking that customer got into a car safely and lets a customer know about estimate time of arrival.

Although a chauffeur makes a request to customer about wearing a seatbelt, he or she does not require it if the car is not on a freeway. A Chauffeur puts his or her customer’s level of convenience foremost, and the fact that a chauffeur never starts a conversation under a customer starts it has a same context as putting customer’s level of convenience at the top.

A car goes at a constant speed on Jamsil Bridge, where there is a speed limit of 60 km/h. When a chauffeur was asked what he or she would do if a customer asks to go faster, a chauffeur replied by saying that going at a speed limit is a must and chauffeurs focus on safety and quality more than getting to destinations quicker. However chauffeurs do drive faster or slower within speed limit under the premise that surroundings are safe and according to traffic flow.

Kakao Luxury Taxi’s chauffeur is guiding his customer. <Kakao Luxury Taxi’s chauffeur is guiding his customer.>

When a car arrives at a destination, a chauffeur tells a customer to wait first and opens the door for him or her. A separate payment is not needed because it is taken care of by Kakao Taxi application. Even after a customer turns his or her back after getting dropped off, a chauffeur still keeps straightened posture.

Luxury taxi, which will start its service starting from mid-October, is first profit model of Kakao Taxi that has accumulated 20 million calls (until 9/14/15) recently.

It received license from Seoul Metropolitan City, and Highend is providing 100 luxury cars such as BMW, Benz, and others after signing contracts with taxi businesses in Seoul Metropolitan City.

Booking and payment are provided separately within Kakao Taxi. Although base rate is not confirmed yet, it is predicted that it will be somewhere between $5.89 (7,000 KRW) to $6.74 (8,000 KRW), which is little bit higher than model taxi’s base rate that is $3.79 (4,500 KRW). It will be 100% based on booking system and it is possible to make a reservation in advance or right away.

“We confirmed marketability of luxury taxi after analyzing many instances of luxury taxi services in the U.S., England, Germany, and Japan.” said Deputy Head Kim Chan of Highend. “We are going to target after customers who desire comfortable service during anniversaries, business hospitality, and others.”

Daum Kakao is also looking over Kakao Taxi coupon, giving gifts, and other functions to look for variety of ways where luxury taxi can be used.

Highend and Daum Kakao are planning to prepare 100 luxury cars and 200 experienced chauffeurs before service starts in October.

On a day when a reporter visited a place where luxury taxi chauffeurs are trained, there were males and females in their 30s to 50s who were striving to become a luxury taxi chauffeur.

Although all these people are people that already went through application review process and interviews, which had 5:1 competition ratio on average, a way that leads to becoming a chauffeur is not an easy task because only 10% of the people come back for more education for hands-on training after a week of training. It is hard to even say greetings in right way as there are five different types of greetings such as “Hello”, “Thank you”, and others and they have to repeat them 1000 times.

“Because candidates’ levels are high, only certain people with certain level of service abilities will be able to become chauffeurs. Their goals are to maintain uniform services when they drive and greet and when customers get on and off of a car.” said CEO Kang Soon Koo of 2LK/LECS Academy that is in charge of training.

It is a standard that each taxi businesses pay luxury taxi chauffeurs on monthly basis, and monthly wage is usually set around $2,526 (3 million KRW) although it is slightly different depending on businesses. Because chauffeurs do not have to pay any of their daily earning back to businesses and that incomes are stable, some high-class people such as hoteliers and others are also showing interest.

Highend is planning to continually educate chauffeurs even after service starts considering the fact that number of cars might increase thereafter. Even after the training is over, it is going to maintain quality service by having mandatory ‘remind training’ periodically.

CEO Kang explained that one can expect increased effect of overall taxi quality service as Kakao luxury taxi will ignite competition between taxi businesses.

Staff Reporter Kim, Siso | siso@etnews.com

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