Written by By Alex Frodsham, CNN
“Ride-share apps” are among the most ubiquitous on earth. After all, who doesn’t have a ride-sharing app running in their pocket nowadays?
For years, travel agents, transport authorities and airlines have looked for ways to make sure that urbanites never have to be stuck behind the wheel again. In the last decade, there have been apps that help plan a taxi-hailing route. There are other apps that allow users to change modes by applying for a fare change. Another app that’s wowed critics and won prizes is Glocal.gr , whose simple interface and concierge-like assistant act as a fourth form.
Glanearchist.gr offers a service for finding a taxi from a range of companies around the world. Credit: courtesy Glanearchist.gr
Now, the emergence of ” mobility apps ,” which let travelers hail a ride with the press of a button on their smart phone, could be a match made in heaven.
Travelers can “home in on convenient cabs from across the globe,” according to Alex Chapman, founder of Glanearchist.gr , which was co-founded in 2018. “We use our platform to pull in relevant data like prices, time-schedules, destinations and reviews. We then customize each experience to the user’s needs and preferences, which is made up of real-time feedback.
“We want to allow you to have exactly the same experience that you would with a local taxi driver, as you’d have with a local tour guide. The cab isn’t going to have a tour guide with it, it’s going to have you.”
How Mobility Apps Work
These days, smartphone users can rely on Uber and Lyft to get them from one place to another. However, both apps have separate services for ride-sharing and for personal travel, so the customer is often out of pocket for the long journey they take.
“For example, if you’re trying to go to Africa, you can use All-inclusive — for a $4 taxi booking — a car service that will take you out of New York for a day, or a weekend away.”
Conceptual illustration of “mobility apps” Credit: Courtesy Glanearchist.gr
Chapman, a 27-year-old Californian who grew up surrounded by travel books, says that for travelers, apps like Glanearchist.gr were essential. “If you’re in the middle of the desert, you’re in Australia, or you’re in Thailand, you have a six-month visa, you don’t want to spend a month trying to find a tourist agency to find a cab to take you to the airport and everything down the road.
“It’s one of those experiences you take for granted until you have to use it. So I try to make travel as easy as possible for these people. But it also makes travel travel easier.”
Is an All-Encompassing Mobility App Making a Comeback?
Glanearchist.gr is the product of three years of research, Chapman says. From a list of over 60 thousand different locations worldwide, the app was initially launched in Taiwan, making it the third-largest country using the service on the planet after the UK and USA.
When thinking about potential customers, it was important that the app had to operate in every type of market where there’s a taxi market: something that was essential to the success of the app in Taiwan, but which would struggle in many more countries.
“With ours, we wanted to make sure that you weren’t going to be dealing with people who basically wouldn’t be able to take you to the destination you wanted.”
For Chapman, the rise of “mobility apps” was overdue. Back in the 18th century, when a speedy line to the airport was the norm, travel agents did everything for the traveler. “I think they just really took care of everything. And that’s still the case for a lot of people. But we’re just really the fulfillment of that function with these mobility apps.”
For Chapman, though, the fact that Glanearchist.gr could become a global service means that there’s no reason that other cities, or airlines, or airports, or hotel chains couldn’t use the service to attract customers.
“I think that there are plenty of ways that it could become a global thing. For us, it’s very exciting and very opportunistic. In other areas, like different countries, in different kinds of routes, you can do it, and other companies will do it.