By Jim A. Luff
As the author of the cover story and an industry veteran, I am sorry to read Martin's post that there were complaints about the cover and my story. Those who complain do not realize the importance of this article and the fact that the industry is pressuring the coachbuilders to install the poles, regardless of what you want to call them. In the interest of not offending further, I will call them "safety grab rails."
In hot markets such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and San Diego, limo-buses have become all the rage. While compiling information for this story, I spoke to some of the largest coachbuilders developing buses who told me how hot poles have become. I learned how much pressure limo operators had placed on coachbuilders to include the pole. The story sidebar was necessary to illustrate the importance of the decision to include or eliminate a pole on a "party bus" purchase.
In 2005 LCT reported that 3% of the industry fleet was comprised of limo-buses. By 2008 that number had climbed to a whopping 12%. When the total fleet size of a particular type of vehicle quadruples in a mere 3-year period, it most certainly is a hot industry topic worthy of the cover page as many operators are choosing to add such vehicles. I felt an obligation to help them decide what to buy based on availability and public demand, and clearly they are demanding poles or coachbuilders would not be installing them.
While the industry has evolved, some older, more traditional black car operators may be stuck in some other era and choose not to meet the demands of today's high tech, gadget oriented yuppies who demand bigger, better and more flashy things. One example of that is how many younger hipsters install gold "grills" on their teeth in a quest for more "bling-bling."
The photo used on our cover to illustrate "party-buses" was subtle and tame. It showed no people, and therefore no seductive poses, cleavage, or images degrading to women. I also refer to the pole as a "grab rail" with the hands doing nothing more than that. Everything else is left up to your imagination. I think our art Director, Ron Rennells, brilliantly captured the party bus lead story.
Since the issue hit mailboxes, I have received numerous e-mails and read postings on websites that thanked me for such an informative article that helped people decide what amenities their limo-bus should have when purchased. One writer was intrigued by the ceiling of the bus and had no idea such a ceiling was available. More importantly, that photo was of a party bus in my own fleet. I should add that it contributes more to the monthly bottom line than any other vehicle in our fleet, and does less trips in a month than any other vehicle. Enough said. I also received an e-mail from a female executive in the industry who mused about grandmothers who like to take a swing on her bus pole.
While Martin says in his post, "We mis-overestimated the industry's sense of humor on the pole issue," I find nothing humorous about it. The industry is demanding coachbuilders to install poles; clients on the party buses are obviously using them; so what's funny about that? I fear what other industry events we might not report in fear of ruffling someone's feathers instead of considering the overall dissemination of facts in the industry. This industry is mostly comprised of mom and pops in Anytown, U.S.A., and we operate party buses with poles. As Martin mentioned the scantily clad live women at Rum Rungle, I find no comparisons to my article. The girls climbing ropes and dancing above my head in their undies at Rum Jungle left me with visions in my head that the cover of LCT never would do for me.
Please note these opinions expressed are my own and not those of LCT Magazine, Bobit Business Media, or any employees of the same.
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