Hailo to begin offering limo service in Ireland

Thursday 19 June 2014 17.42
Hailo says it would continue to use licensed vehicles only
Hailo says it would continue to use licensed vehicles only

Taxi reservation app, Hailo, is to start offering limo and mid-range services in the Irish market in an effort to tackle growing competition in the digital car booking market. 

However, the company says it will continue to only use drivers and cars who are fully licensed by the authorities. 

Hailo currently allows users to book and pay for a regular fully licensed taxi through a smartphone app. 

However, it is also to begin rolling out Hailo Plus, a higher standard of taxi and driver, which will cost around 15% more than the standard Hailo service. 

Dublin will be the first city to get this product, which will be rolled out from mid-July - around the time it celebrates two years in Ireland.

At the same time it will also introduce a premium executive or limo car service, Hailo Exec. 

That new service will cost around 50% more than the traditional taxi product. 

The company is also to begin offering a full version of Hailo for Business - a corporate taxi account service with a web based dashboard for account management, which has been in beta testing here in recent months.

Recently there was a small but significant backlash among London cabbies when rumours surfaced that Hailo, which was co-founded by a number of black cab drivers there, was going to open up its service to mini-cab drivers. 

The black cab drivers, who must undergo rigorous testing in order to secure a licence, do not wish to see mini-cab or "Hackney" drivers using the service because they do not have the same level of training and regulation.

But speaking to RTÉ News, Hailo co-chief executive, Tom Barr, said he could 100% guarantee that the company would continue to only use licensed vehicles both here and in London. 

He said the false rumour started because the company had filed for a private hire licence in London so it could begin offering a limo service to its business customers. 

However, while he said there are and were no plans to allow mini-cab drivers avail of the service, he was unwilling to rule out that possibility in the future.

Today's announcement comes a week after tens of thousands of taxi drivers marched in cities around Europe, complaining about the growth of the limo booking app, Uber and other similar apps, in what is fast becoming a competitive market. 

The drivers claimed that Uber is enabling unlicensed and unregulated drivers to get access to the market, thereby watering down their business and posing a risk for customers. 

Uber claims its drivers all meet local regulations and have been subjected to insurance and general background checks.

Last year Hailo raised $30m in funding, valuing it at an estimated $140m. 

But Mr Barr said the owners of the company have no plans to sell the business or float it on the stockmarket. 

He said the company continues to see huge growth in front of it, and that its investors and management are all happy and will continue to grow the business.