Taxi-hailing app Hailo is cutting its prices in half starting on Monday, escalating the battle between it and competitors like Uber and Lyft for riding customers. Hailo wants to get taxi drivers to use its technology as leverage against companies like Uber in a way that will level the playing field. And there’s no denying that making trips cheaper is a good way to attract customers. Hailo refers to it as constructive disruption.
“We think of it as creative disruption,” said Kevin Hatfield, co-president of Hailo North America. “We want to expand choices and drive efficiency.”
The 50 percent price cut isn’t totally universal however. It’s restricted to weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., arguably limiting its usefulness for commuters or late-night travelers. That doesn’t preclude the possibility the sale won’t attract new customers though. And, Hatfield emphasized, the innate lack of surge pricing means that when it’s particularly hectic for Uber, Hailo is the best deal regardless. And even though you can’t exactly map Hailo prices from city to city onto a comparison with Uber or Lyft, Hatfield said taking Hailo could save users around 20 percent over UberX rides depending on surge pricing.
“We’re exploring a few options beyond it,” Hatfield said. “We’re applying lessons from all over.” He added that part of what Hailo prioritizes is making sure that drivers get a reasonable deal as well. “The push is to be fair and equitable with fully licensed drives,” he said. “We have to be adaptive.”
Being fully licensed could be a bigger deal than it might sound if the possibility of rogue Uber drivers is really as high as it seems right now.
Hailo is certainly taking a creative route toward promoting the price cut. Jimmy “The Rent is Too Damn High” McMillan will be in D.C. on Monday to promote the new price cut. According to Hailo, McMillan “thinks rates are too damn high and he wants more change, in your pocket.” It’s not quite the same as Hailo’s offer of rides with professional football cheerleaders, but it does stand out. You can watch a video of McMillan declaiming that “the rates are too damn high,” at the bottom of the story. And it fits that this new change will happen in and around D.C., as the area often serves as a friendly arena for trying out new ideas and business models.
“D.C. is possibly the first city to protect the e-hail space,” Hatfield said. “It’s refreshing that it makes a space for competition.”
“We think of it as creative disruption”
Hailo’s decision to open up its API for third-party apps, basically getting partners to put a Hailo button in their apps, could be the next stage in the e-hail wars. It’s already competing with Uber’s API, which comes with an exclusivity clause. That’s just beginning to rise as an arena of competition. For now, it’s the prices that will matter most to consumers according to Hailo.
“The API field is at such an early stage. We’re not concerned,” Hatfield said. “Right now we’re just very excited about the price cut.”