Bandwagon, which makes a taxi-sharing app that connects passengers who are heading in the same direction, is looking to expand in a big way. As such, they have just launched a program at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. According to the terms of their agreement with Port Authority, they'll be there for at least a year; if things go well, they will expand the program to JFK.
The news is big for Bandwagon because it's their first airport-wide agreement, and it could help the company to gain a critical mass of registered users to make the app much more functional at the airport and beyond. But convention organizers and attendees may already be familiar with Bandwagon due to its use at mammoth shows such as CES and NAB, both in Las Vegas. I haven't used the app, but I think it's a brilliant idea for convention use.
Consider those long taxi lines, at both airports and host hotels for big conventions, and how many of those solo business travelers in said lines are likely going to the same place. Putting each into a separate car is a waste of time, a waste of passenger money, and a burden on traffic congestion and the environment. The Bandwagon app matches passengers who are going the same direction (with 20 percent or less deviation) and even organizes the payment: The total will be charged to the last passenger to be dropped off, while half the total will be charged to the other passenger and credited to the card of the passenger paying for the ride.
Convention organizers can contract directly with Bandwagon; a spokesperson advises that it works best for those events that draw at least 20,000 people. But it isn't only a matter of telling your attendees to download the app. Dedicated taxi-sharing lines can be set up, making it easier to find one's match. And an iPad kiosk can be set up as well, meaning that attendees needn't even use their smartphones — they can simply check in at the kiosk, and an iPad-wielding representative will serve as the taxi-matching concierge. Such service touches are a huge boost to the app's use, explains Bandwagon's communications and marketing director, Sarah Hogate Bacon, but ideally they won't be needed indefinitely. As the app becomes more commonly used by travelers at airports and even just around town, attendees will require less hands-on assistance.
Meanwhile, an iPad kiosk can be branded, providing an excellent vehicle for sponsorship, and there are branding opportunities in the app itself or even with signage at dedicated taxi-sharing lines.
A bonus feature for convention use, notes Bacon, is Bandwagon's social-networking functionality. Sure, the sharing economy can save time and money, but it also provides another opportunity to meet a convention attendee with whom you might not otherwise have chatted.
Bandwagon's LGA Memorial Day weekend debut was well received, Bacon tells me, with nearly 400 ride requests. You can find Bandwagon in use at LGA only during peak periods; soon, it might be in Chicago and Boston. For use at a convention, see more information at Bandwagon's site.