If you have the money to pay a little extra for a ride, services like Uber are often seen as preferable to standing at the side of a rode, trying to hail a cab. Lyft and Sidecar are other alternative services, helping users get from point A to point B for a more community-oriented experience. And they’re hurting the traditional taxi industry in the process. But Taxi Magic, a smartphone-based service for booking cabs, wants to help licensed cabbies working within the system ramp up their tech savvy and compete with the alternative services cropping up — and it’s using social media to distinguish the Taxi Magic experience from competitors.
Taxi Magic lets people book taxis through smartphone apps for Android and iOS. Once you order the taxi, you pay online, and there’s no superfluous surcharge — it’s just the flat taxi rate plus a $1 booking fee. One cool feature: if you’re coming from a busy event or standing on the street outside the most inexplicably crowded bar in town, the Taxi Magic app helps you flag down the cab you called by turning your phone screen into a beacon — so if that’s not enough of an incentive to download its app before New Year’s Eve, I don’t know what is.
Once a taxi has been assigned, you can track its progress in real time, and you can pay online. Director of Marketing Matt Carrington notes that social media is an important part of the company’s customer service experience. “If your driver picks up the wrong person or drives a little too fast for your liking, we want folks to email or tweet at us so we can make it right,” he says. “Our Rider Wizards are constantly monitoring all our social channels and moving quickly to make problems disappear. Twitter has been responsible for the safe return of more lost smartphones or keys than I can count.”
And now Taxi Magic is taking its integration with social media a step further. The service has been around since 2009, but it recently boosted its profile with the launch of a new campaign called “Twitter Taxi.” Twitter Taxi is a refurbished vintage taxi from 1922 that reacts to cues from Twitter. Riders can change the music by using hashtags, creating a social jukebox.
RIght now, Twitter Taxi is only used for promotional events, but that may change. “We’ve already heard from several drivers that they want this capability built into their own vehicles. We’ll look into that over the coming months,” Carrington says. “Activating Twitter Taxis with music and light shows would be a big draw for the weekend and nightlife crowd. It would increase our social footprint, but would also get more people riding taxis – which is our primary goal.”