COMMENTARY: December takes hold of LCT with us feeling as if we’re already in 2012. And that’s a good thing. A lot of news will be breaking in the months ahead, with new fleet vehicles ascending in the industry marketplace and one of the most active and engaging International LCT Shows in years taking shape. So our internal calendars already have turned past New Year’s Day as we work on our Show issue and anticipate a big year for the industry.
In the December issue, dedicated to customer service and safety, the relevance of insurance and safety hit home as our contributing editor, Jim Luff, faced the toughest and most traumatic event of his industry career: A limo bus accident along California’s infamous "Blood Alley." Luff reports a riveting account of his harrowing experience and packs his article with some "live lessons." Luff did a brave public service by detailing what really happens when an operator has to deal with a fleet vehicle accident; it provides a memorable learning opportunity for any operator with a minibus or limo bus who could someday face the same scenario. It's a story that needed to be told.
LCTmag.com buzzes with record online traffic related to vehicle content, highlighting the No. 1 concern for operators: What’s next for fleet vehicles? We’ve posted multiple articles online about the new XTS, MKT, Mercedes-Benz, and every vehicle operators are trying out and talking about. Be sure to visit our "Vehicles" channel on our website. It’s the best way to get ready for the mega-Showcase Showdown in Las Vegas at our Show Feb. 13-15, 2012. Vehicles will be vying for your buying attention. And this will be the first industry event with the XTS vs. MKT center stage.
The December issue includes a detailed primer from one of America’s most respected wealth experts, Dr. Jim Taylor, who taught operators at the LCT Leadership Summit in Miami Beach how they can better tap the post-recession wealthy clientele. Taylor cited examples of how the wealthy, or top 1-2%, behave in very middle class ways. Studies show two-thirds of the wealthy actually grew up middle class or below, and worked and invested their way to wealth. This fact should help refute the inane rantings of the Occupy Wall Streeters who are demonizing America’s hard working wealth generators (read: chauffeured clients) via class warfare politics. The scapegoated "1%" could easily morph into the hated 2%, 5%, 10%, etc., as such crass, mob-driven contempt knows no bounds. OWS isn't just about venting anger against rich people or big banks. It's a fringe movement that is ultimately anti-entrepreneurial and anti-success, forcing its ideological will on America's private sector.
Speaking of middle and upper classes, one example of how luxury chauffeured service can adapt to a more practical and un-elite-minded marketplace is on display at two airports in my beloved home state of Virginia. Operator Stephen Story of James River Transportation now offers airport transportation via fleets of Ford Flex vehicles at the Richmond and Norfolk international airports. I sampled the Ford Flex service on my way to NIA two years ago; the rear captain’s seats and ample headroom create one of the most comfortable chauffeured rides possible. Put a professional chauffeur into a roomy and economical Ford Flex at reasonable rates and you have a formula for stealing middle class customers from taxi-cabs while keeping the budget-minded chauffeured ones.
A diverse global tent
A subject near to my heart is the growing presence of foreign operators and immigrant entrepreneurs in this industry. In 2012, LCT will take steps to secure its legacy as the big-tent, global brand in the world of chauffeured transportation. Europe, China and Australia are spurring more demand for custom stretch limousines and corporate transportation. We include aLCT Magazine profile of EuroLimousine.net, a consortium of ambitious European operators ready to affordably connect directly with U.S. affiliates. This year, we launched a department called Global Operator to spotlight companies outside of the U.S. At our annual awards show in Las Vegas next year, we will recognize our first "Global Operator of the Year." And don’t forget our trademark International Reception on Feb. 13, a must-attend networking event that draws operators from more than 25 nations. LCT’s coverage of global and immigrant operators hits a high in December 2012 with the International Issue. Altogether, LCT stands unmatched as the industry B2B brand that celebrates genuine global diversity and enterprise — based on the color- and gender-blind eternal metrics of success, merit, and achievement.
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor
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