The VTA were proud to host the 2015 ATIA Conference in Melbourne in late April. It was fantastic to see many familiar faces with over 300 taxi industry participants and supporters attending from across Australia. There is an overview of the event later in this edition but I would like to share with you some reflections on a few of the highlights.
Former Premier Jeff Kennett kindly agreed to be our Keynote speaker on the first day. Jeff continues to be a strong advocate for the taxi industry and has a great rapport with the people who make up our industry. As usual, his insights were timely and motivating. He acknowledged the difficulties the industry has faced in the past months and years and sympathised with those for whom it has had a serious impact on their finances and families. He then went on to identify the new opportunities which exist for taxis as people’s lifestyles change and reiterated that our customers are our greatest asset and must remain our primary focus in all that we do. Despite the fact we operate in challenge times, he urged everyone to strive to find ways to grow.
Reforms have brought about changes to regulation which are here to stay for now, and we need to continue to operate within them, while also recognising the need to refine them and ensure they are applied equally to all providers of commercial passenger vehicle services.
Mike Fogarty, President of the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association (TLPA) of the USA travelled from Boston to join us and offered some candid thoughts on how the industry in America is responding to the impact of illegal ride sharing and other emerging services. He and his colleagues have worked hard to use this as an opportunity to unify the industry, motivate the development of better and more customer focused technology and bring on expert assistance to put a public face to taxi services. We hope to build on the connection with Mike and the ATIA membership of the TLPA to keep informed of changes in regulation in the USA and approaches of state regulators to the challenges that confront them.
We also welcomed Rhod Ellis Jones to speak to the audience about how to connect with customers. He posed important questions about who we are as an industry. He pointed out the many segments of the vast market we service as an industry everyday and how important it has become in our modern world to ensure we reinforce the role of taxis in the lives of our customers through proactive communications which are carefully targeted to speak to the identity of these segments.