WHAT EXACTLY IS A NETWORK?
By Linda Moore, LCT East Coast Editor
How do you classify your business? Limousine operator, transportation provider, global distributor of transportation service, network? Here is a great one a friend of mine told me his company is: Transportation Destination Management Company.
It’s beginning to become more and more difficult to know who is who in the limo zoo. Is everyone a network now? Does anyone just provide outstanding service in their own city any more? Is everyone taking out of state work from their clients and farming it to other companies?
I have a stack of business cards more than an inch thick from the last LCT show, many of which bear only company names but not locations. They are “global” businesses. They tout “providing world class service in 365 cities across the globe.”
I recently had a debate with a well known industry leader on the definition of a legitimate network. He would have you believe that if the company doesn’t own any cars, then they are not a legitimate network. I disagreed. I believe that if a company books and sells its service around the world and then farms it to other companies, then it is network.
Here’s the dilemma. If you were compiling a list of networks in the industry, who would you include? Systematically, my mind goes to the big guys who have been around the longest such as Carey, Music Express, Dav El, Empire and Boston Coach, but the market has changed and there are companies such as Savoya and Limo Link who don’t own metal.
Are they networks? I say, yes. Now let’s make it even muddier. My friends at A-1 Limousine in Princeton, N.J. advertise on the web that they provide service across the globe. Are they a network? Is ABC Company in Kennebunkport, ME (fictional company) who books nationwide for all of its clients a network?
360 Limo in Dallas named its company to show potential clients that it covers 360 degrees of the globe. Are they a network? I think they all are if we categorize them as companies that book service across the globe regardless of whether they have a physical location in that city.
Let’s get even muddier. What if you only book on the Internet? You have no verbal communications with the client. Is that a network?
My friend Roberta Pike gave a great talk a while back where she cautioned companies about using the word affiliate. I am paraphrasing her but the gist of what she told everyone is that the word “affiliate” is a legal term and has the implication of ownership. When you use it (and she did not use these words exactly but refer to the point), you become part of the food chain if litigation occurs…Those pesky lawyers always have their hands in there somewhere.
I think we should take our leads from the tour industry. They use a great term. They say we are receptive tour companies, meaning they take work from sellers of tours. So companies looking for farm-in work would be receptive limousine companies?
Help me out here. What are your thoughts?
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