The first two letters of protest are PR and there is no doubt that today's taxi protest was a PR disaster. Whatever sympathy the public had with the battle between the analogue taxi and the digital online service Uber has just swung massively to the side of the new upstart. In the cowboy like showdown on the main road the taxi drivers well and truly managed to shoot themselves in the foot.
Passengers were late for planes, pensioners sat for two hours in the boiling heat, children cried, bus loads of tourists will have memories of Dubrovnik and Uber drivers rubbed their hands in glee as the public pressure built up. A grand total of nobody gave their support for the drivers protest. The mayor, the director of the airport even the Minister of Transport popped his head above the parapet and criticised the protest. The Dubrovnik taxi drivers did manage to unite the public, but not in the way they had imagined.
In one warm morning they managed to bring the matter to the forefront and to convert normal analogue passengers to download the Uber app and convert to the digital side. The key to PR is judging the public mode and making the most of a positive swell. This was a classic example of PR flushed down the toilet. In car terms this was an absolute backfire!
The argument that analogue taxi drivers have to pay taxes, concessions and licenses is true and that the Uber “colleagues” are exempt of these extra charges is also true (to an extent). “Uber has brought unfair competition,” is the charge often heard. Again I could have had some sympathy with this statement, but the answer is not to go to war, for the only people you are really hurting are the very people who pay your mortgages – your customers – the general public.
Learning to cope with the added pressures of these so called “profit sharing community” services such as Airbnb and Uber is battle than should be fought in a more cunning way. However it is a delicate issue because your employers, the public, are likely to get caught in the crossfire, as they did today. For years these same taxi drivers have been living large from a mafia style closed market. That empire has been shaken to its core by a handful of Uber drivers. The Roman Empire lived for a 1,000 years but collapsed in a matter of days. The start of the fall of the Dubrovnik taxi empire began today.