Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and now Opoli. Ride-sharing apps seem to be coming out of the wood works nowadays, and all of them promise the best ride, service and rates. So how do we know which to choose? Uber is known for having stricter rules regarding the quality of driver’s cars, meaning your transportation is a little more “black car” than the guy-next-door’s old clunker. Recently, Lyft picked me up and the driver opened my car door for me and made sure the temperature and music was to my liking before departing. Hello, white-glove service.
One of the most recent additions to the industry is Opoli which first debuted in Los Angeles and now has cars in San Diego. The ride-sharing app boasts being the only one available that lets the user negotiate a price hours before their chosen pick-up time through their reservation service. Unlike the above mentioned apps, Opoli allows you to book a pickup in advance like you can with a taxi. Essentially this could be useful for securing a ride during a busy rush hour or when needing to get to the airport.
But if you’ve ever driven in LA traffic, you know how hard it is to ensure a timely arrival. Opoli understands this but has said that they have a difficult screening process in place for their drivers, only bringing on professionals who understand they are ambassadors. “As such, arriving late for a pick up is not an option. We have an unwritten rule that drivers need to be at said reservation pick up well before set time,” Opoli’s CEO Rattan Joea told JustLuxe.
When asked how they’d be able to compete with the current market, Joea had this to say, “Within our Opoli services, we have 400 activated drivers therefore it isn’t a question if we can compete with our competition but rather getting the word out.” He also explained the model that caters to drivers as well as consumers. “At Opoli, we value our drivers because it’s imbedded in our culture. I started off as a driver so understand what drivers are going through. That is why we built out a dynamic pricing and stakeholder model,” said Joea.
According to the Daily Breeze, Opoli also claims that it will have a more hands-on approach with its drivers. As the fleet grows, we wondered if this was possible and how it would be handled. “We have an in-depth training process for drivers. We really focus on company fit. We only select drivers who have great records and a strong customer focus,” said Joea. “That said, we also provide the drivers the ability to schedule meetings with our operations team to discuss issues, concerns, and ideas.”
Okay, so these all seem like great concepts, but is it really better than its competition? Or does it at least live up to its hype? I recently downloaded the app and took to the streets to test it out, first stop: the San Diego International Airport. With an early morning flight, I reserved the car the night before, an Opoli vehicle versus the Black and SUV options. The interface is simple: pick-up location, drop-off and number of passengers. Then a bid will show up before you accept. As my 6:30 a.m. pickup time rolled around, the car rolled up to my house with a minute to spare. As for the price, $23 for the 15-minute ride. Comparatively, it was about $10 more than Sidecar and Uber at that same hour.
Getting in, I quickly noticed a bag of trash in the back seat (not wholly bothersome, but not super pleasant), and the car itself was a tad bit more rough around the edges than I would have assumed. The driver, however, was welcoming, talkative and friendly. Until recently, no ride share programs have been allowed to do pickups from the airport. Opoli and Uber are currently the only services that have been permitted to do so. Before heading home from my trip, I opened my app and tried to secure an airport pickup prior to arriving. Unfortunately, after many attempts, the airline and zone features would not load. Both are needed to reserve your car.
I Uber’ed home. For a couple of days following, the app would not change its pickup location from the airport to whichever area I was in, meaning I could not schedule another ride. After deleting it and uploading the app once more, it finally cleared and I was able to choose my address as the pickup location. (Note: I am pretty tech-savvy, so yes, I tried turning it on and off again first.)
According to Harry Campbell who manages The Rideshare Guy website, he states that the rates Opoli is operating at rates more comparable to UberBlack/SUV. They also have a decent amount of luxury cars for being a new entity. “I was impressed with the wide variety of cars available. They offered everything from Escalades and Tahoes to Teslas and Town Cars. We actually ended up booking a Mercedes sedan for $90 [for a 30-minute ride],” writes Campbell.
Depending on the level of service you prefer, Opoli may be best used when needing black-car service. Which makes sense since they seem to be catering to affluent clientele. Overall, at this point, Opoli has a ways to go before it can market itself as a better option than its competitors. The reservation option is key here and a big bonus, but it needs more than that to keep it afloat. A couple of its programming issues (promo codes not working on first ride, stuck pickup location, no airline or zone categories) can be fixed easily, which will improve its usability. If you haven’t tried them out, do so (promo code: GDTNY) and let us know your thoughts!