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TravelCenters of America saves truckers time with repair-request app

TravelCenters of America aims to reduce travel time for professional drivers with an update of its mobile application that permits advance booking of maintenance and repair appointments at its outlets.

The app also provides estimates of the number of available parking spaces at a given travel center.  It is an example of how the travel and transportation sectors have become one of the fastest adopters of mobile technology.

“Yankee Group’s Mobile and Connected Devices Forecast & Monitor, April 2014, shows the staggering pace at which mobility is growing,” said Sheryl Kingstone,  research director for Boston-based Yankee Group.

“There are already more than 195 million smartphones in use in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow to 250 million by 2017. Considering how mobile the trucking industry is today, it’s a great opportunity to create apps that offer value-added services.”

TravelCenters did not respond to media inquiries.

Hours-of-service rules
Saving time is essential in the trucking industry, given hours-of-service rules that require drivers to maximize their hours on the road.

Westlake, OH-based TravelCenters, better known as TA, has 250 locations off United States interstate highway exits.

Its app’s repair-request feature allows drivers to enter the service line before arriving at a specified site, reducing or eliminating service-bay wait times. The parking-availability estimator indicates whether a parking space will be available when the driver arrives and permits reserving a spot remotely.

All professional drivers can use the parking-estimate feature, called Plan2Park. The feature uses historical data to provide an estimate of spaces available at a driver’s estimated day and time of arrival, up to seven days in advance.

Members of TA and the Petro UltraOne Driver Rewards Program may use the truck-service repair-request feature to start a work order at a TravelCenters or Petro location.

Mobile devices are increasingly being used to make life on the road more pleasant for the millions of truck drivers who spend their entire day on US interstates and frequent travel centers and truck stops.

In the past, marketers have rolled out truck-stop coupon applications, helping truckers and other motorists take advantage of discounted products and services while on the road.

TA’s  TruckSmart app, which has had more than 400,000 iOS and Android downloads, aims to give mobile customers a seamless experience by blending mobile functionality with the services road warriors expect.

Instant Shower
For example, its Instant Shower feature allows UltraOne members to reserve a shower at a nearby location, pay for it with shower credits or UltraONE Points, be placed in the queue, and receive an email when the shower is ready – without stepping foot in the travel center.

The app’s features also include access to UltraOne account balances and transactions, fuel prices, shower and parking availability, and one-touch calling for parking reservations and emergency roadside service.

“The TruckSmart app is another great example of looking through the eyes of your customer base and adding value into the mobile journey,” Yankee Group’s Ms. Kingstone said.

“It’s amazing that we are still finding new ways to enhance our everyday lives. This application focuses specifically on the value of saving time – a critical element of maximizing the efficiency of the trucker’s work experience. It will also provide necessary safety and service related value added features.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.