The next step for Hailo - a very London journey
Today, Hailo is introducing a brand new service for passengers. HailoExec is a high-end car option which has been developed following the requests of business users and the need to offer a high level of service for all passengers. The fleet is made up of cars such as Mercedes and BMWs and will sit as an add-on to our core taxi offering.
It’s a great addition to Hailo’s service, but taxi fans can rest easy. If you request a taxi, we will send you a taxi. There will be no surprise substitutes; the option to select a HailoExec is, literally, in your hands.
HailoExec will be rolled out gradually to all passengers over the next few days as we test it and also to manage the quality of service. If you don’t see it at first, don’t worry - it’ll be with you soon.
So why have we done this? To answer that question, let’s go back to how Hailo started and why. The London taxi has an extraordinary history, dating back to the early 17th century. It’s unquestionably one of the defining icons of London and justifiably famous around the world.
However, in recent years, the fortunes of the trade showed signs of decline. Drivers were spending too much of their time running empty and passengers could never seem to find a cab when they wanted one. Minicabs were stepping in to fill the gaps but the standards were low and the safety questionable.
Hailo was born from the confluence of two events: the rapid rise of powerful, GPS-enabled smartphones and the meeting of three black cab drivers and three entrepreneurs. Taxis weren’t broken, but they could be better. By offering smart, easy-to-use apps to both drivers and passengers, suddenly passengers could hail taxis they couldn’t see and drivers could accept jobs from passengers they’d otherwise have missed.
The combination of the world’s best taxi and ease of use for passengers was a smash hit. Over 14,000 of the 23,000 licensed taxi drivers signed up for the service and over five million passengers to date have been ‘back in black’. If we may be so bold, Hailo taught London to e-hail and changed how we get around forever.
Hailo is proud of being London based and a British success story. We have put millions into the economy by helping London get around more efficiently and creating hundreds of tech jobs. We’re one of the companies putting the city on the map for the emerging mobile industry.
But it’s more important than that
Taxis are more than just a convenience - they’re a public good. The London taxi we often take for granted is much more than another way to get around. For a start, every single black cab is, and has to be, wheelchair-friendly. That is a real lifeline for London’s disabled community that no other car service has to, or does, offer. As a civilised society, we should be proud of providing this service and defend it - no other city in the world does.
Secondly, safety is fundamental to taxis. Women in particular value the safe environment of black cabs. The vehicles are regulated to the highest standards and drivers have to pass the most demanding tests of any driver in the world. The famous ‘Knowledge’ is far more than knowing the streets - it’s a guarantee of professional quality, safety and service.
Changes and threats
So taxis are great and Hailo works. Then why add on HailoExec cars? Doesn’t that undermine the taxi? No. It’s because we want taxis to survive and grow.
London is changing. Smartphones are (for good or bad) utterly part of all our lives. People’s expectations of services are now very different. People now want things on demand when and where they want them. We stream movies to our homes, we book restaurants on the move and download MP3s on a whim. It already feels nostalgic to think of visiting video rental shops and travel agents.
Londoners now want drivers to come to them. Hailo has done that wonderfully, but success comes with challenges. In particular, demand has begun to outstrip supply. That means that passengers and businesses who want a taxi can’t get one. In the past, they may have gone outside to hail the traditional way, but they like apps so they start looking for alternatives.
Hailo is a British business that puts taxis first and pays its taxes in the UK.
And businesses require a choice too. Taxi drivers need the bread and butter work of professionals during the day, but many corporates won’t accept a taxi-only solution - they want a choice of vehicle. By offering that choice, Hailo can get taxis a high share of business account work they’d otherwise get none of.
Hailo: a great service - led by taxis
Hailo wants to take the hassle out of getting around London and be a decent citizen at the same time. We believe that an app that offers taxis at its heart and supported by quality additional vehicles, driven by safe, licensed drivers is a compelling offer for passengers. And more passengers using Hailo means more people having taxis as an option and more Londoners having a great service.