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To Taxi or to Transfer – that, is the question

While communicating with colleagues at industry events, we’ve repeatedly noticed that not all travel professionals can draw the line between taxis and transfer services. Whenever we’re privy to an open discussion about the transfer, there’s always the question – are you talking about football or card payments?

The difference between the two is rather superficial.

Taxi services (including ride-hailing apps) provide rides ‘here and now, whereas transfer services operate on a pre-order-only basis.

Since we are dealing with a pre-ordered service and an on-the-spot, pay-as-you-go service, we, as the user, have different expectations for each. In the first case, we expect the immediate arrival of a car after just a few taps on our smartphone. In the second case, we expect the reliable and guaranteed delivery of the car at the appointed time. This basic difference leads to the emergence of fundamentally different business models while enabling the appearance of externally similar, but completely different services.

Let’s talk about these differences between the models in more detail.

First, let’s talk about taxis.

Nowadays, we expect a taxi to arrive within 3-5 minutes after we’ve ordered it. If the wait drags on, we start to get frustrated (although we should be surprised at the technological breakthrough that made it possible to implement such a model; ten years ago, these waiting times were infeasible).

To ensure the quick arrival of a car, the taxi service must have thousands of active drivers ready to accept orders. To do this, the company needs a giant fleet of drivers, which they can attain by taking advantage of the low barriers to entry.

Do you remember the basic message with which Uber entered the market in 2012-2013? It went something like this: “Anyone can be a taxi driver. In the morning, you might be a student, an accountant, or a doctor, but in the evening you are a driver. This is normal.” Uber’s market entrance reflected the urgent need to get drivers on the road to provide an unprecedented level of convenience to the consumer.

When we know that anyone can drive a vehicle, we don’t expect much from the service. For us, it’s enough to know that the car will be modern, the driver will arrive quickly and the atmosphere within the cabin will be calm and silent.

Everything is a little different when we have an important trip ahead of us. For example, to or from the airport. In this case, our expectations and requirements increase significantly. We’re trusting that the driver will arrive on time, shall drop us off on time, and track the flight to spot delays in advance.

It’s even more difficult when we order a car for another person — there’s no room for error. There’s added stress regarding reliability, ordering in advance, and we ought to organize a sign too if it’s an airport pickup.

Can a taxi service provide all this with guarantees too? Well, it’s unlikely. The taxi business model just doesn’t focus on this. Instead, it’s focused on mass customer service, where the quantity of trips completed is the most important. When we’re talking about taxi services, the driver cannot wait for a particular guest for an hour at the airport, they cannot go to the terminal with a sign, and they aren’t interested in tracking the arrival time of the flight. Moreover, taxi services don’t appoint drivers in advance, giving them a maximum of 30 minutes’ notice before a trip.

Let’s move on to transfer services. What do we expect from them?

Transfer companies don’t provide your everyday city service. Transfers are inscribed in the chain of “airplane – car – hotel”. We subconsciously expect an equal level of service at all stages of a business trip. At the wheel, the driver is no less than the pilot of an aircraft. By the way, this is a neat psychological item that we explore through our marketing activities. We use branded signs at the airport and even go as far as using certain language, describing customers as “guests”. Sounds strange for a taxi, right?

Why can transfer services provide things that taxis cannot?

Ultimately, because orders are booked well in advance. It is not possible to order a transfer immediately, which means that there is no need for the mass recruitment of drivers to ensure their presence in every district of the city at any given time. Moreover, the volume of orders from such companies is of a completely different order. This allows you to select drivers more carefully; by nature, these drivers are going to be qualified, experienced, and will provide a much better service to their passengers.

Within a transfer service, the driver’s travel schedule is created in advance. This is both the strength and weakness of this type of service. The strength is that you get all the necessary information in advance, which increases your confidence in the quality of the service. The weakness is that when you change plans last minute or they change due to unforeseen circumstances, you often cannot cancel the reservation without a penalty — after all, the driver has already left on your order.

Will your quality expectations of support service differ? Of course. The very idea of calling ‘Uber’ seems strange; if we need to get in touch with the driver, we use the in-app chat function and wait for a response. If we call the transfer service, we expect to speak to a representative within two minutes.

In terms of conclusions, none of this makes one service better than the other. They just exist for different occasions. We’ll regularly use one on day-to-day travels within the city, while the other is reserved for special occasions such as holidays and business trips.

Although, there is one thing that gives the transfer service a clear advantage — the driver selection process. But, we’ll talk about that next time.

Dmitry Saraykin
Co-founder, Director of Development of i’way

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 417   2021   i'way   taxi   transfer
Omer Sarwar 2022

Dear partners,

Anastasia no longer works with suppliers, my name is Ekaterina and now you can contact me with any questions.

I fully understand your situation. Nevertheless, all companies that deal with tourism and any kind of passenger transportation are caught in this situation. i`way was forced to suspend payments because we looked for a way to stay alive too. So, the company had a choice – to pay debts and go bankrupt or to suspend payments (I stress – suspend, not refuse) for a while and stay alive to continue to work and provide us and all our partners with work in the future. We understand how it`s hard for you because It’s just as difficult for us until now.
Unfortunately I can’t tell you the exact date of payment for debt. I don’t make any promises to you because I don’t want to deceive you.

That`s why I kindly ask you to wait for more, we really will do it as soon as possible.

About new orders, for now we can offer to work on a prepayment basis. If you will receive a new request and need prepayment for this order, please notify us within 2 hours of receiving this email. We can make payment by card if you send us a link. Or we will send payment by bank, in this case we need an invoice for prepayment and after payment you will receive confirmation.

Thank you.

ср, 11 авг. 2021 г. в 17:31, Kabroo London <>:
Dear Partner,

Hope you are well

As the lockdown is easing everywhere – please can you send us your payment plan regarding the outstanding balance for last year below

iWay Jan-20 380 £ 4,944.00
iWay Feb-20 393 £ 4,793.00
iWay Mar-20 403 £ 965.00
iWay Oct-20 102020-iwy £ 65.00
iWay Dec-20 DEC2020-IWY £ 79.00

Total: £10846.00

Thank you
Adison Cars Ltd
Suit 109-H, First Floor 616, Mitcham Road, Croydon, England, CR0 3AA

Omer Sarwar 2022

Dear Team,

Hope you are well and had a great Christmas and a happy new year.

I’m writing in regards to the outstanding invoices that are overdue for almost 2 years now.
Please can you give us an insight into your plans and forecast when you think you will be able to start paying even if in instalments? We took a loan to be able to pay our drivers and we have to pay the loan back. We didn’t receive a response to our previous email in December, please can you treat this email as a matter of urgency?

Thank you
Kind regards,

From: Anna Proskurnina / i’way <>
Sent: 03 November 2021 06:41
To: Kabroo London <>
Subject: Re: Outstanding invoices 2020

Dear Omer, hello!
My name is Anna, I’m a manager from i’way company responsible for the UK region.
To tell you the truth, we don’t have a great volume of rides in London to start working with you again.
I understand that we owe money, but unfortunately we can’t send you the whole sum.
I hope we can come back to discuss this issue later.
Hope for your understanding!

Thank you
Adison Cars Ltd
Suit 109-H, First Floor 616, Mitcham Road, Croydon, England, CR0 3AA