LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The biggest challenge to working a trade show is trying to get to talk to everyone you plan and hope to, let alone anticipating all those interesting people you meet along the way. So much information in so little time pays off with plenty of ideas for our magazine and website, even if we can’t get to it all for a while. The information rush at this year’s International LCT Show accelerated thanks to more vehicles, attendees, and seminars than at the four previous Shows I’ve worked. But I’ll still try to highlight some of the most innovative and engaging industry ideas, tidbits, and anecdotes I gleaned during the four days of Feb. 11-15:
Touch n’ go technology: DaBryan Coach Builders offered repeat tutorials on its new touch-screen interior control system inside its Lincoln MKT Town Car stretch limousine. We are clearly seeing the iPad/iPhone/Android era taking over the interior electronics and entertainment in limousines. DaBryan’s exclusive software contractor, Jack Cali of New Orleans-based Drivesoft Inc. (featured on the Oct/Nov. 2009 LCT Magazine cover) gave me an enthusiastic rundown and demonstration of the quick-touch integrated command system. Get ready for touch-screen icons, Bluetooth, Xbox games, and interactive smart technology that finds trouble spots anywhere in the vehicle and allows clients to post on Facebook, Twitter, and “check-in” via social media from the limo. Information: http://www.drivesoft.net/.
But I have a nice personality: I met someone who figured me out in all of six minutes. I admit I was skeptical at first, but Don Crosby, founder and CEO of Global Behavior, a Charlotte, N.C.-based human resources consulting firm, had me take a personality test on the Show floor that consisted of responses to two sets of 30 words. The Professional Dynametric Program (PDP) ProScan survey was analyzed by a proprietary measurement formula via Crosby’s laptop that stunned me with the results. It was me to a T. Not even my mother could know so much about me. For anyone running a business, such detailed assessments help employers evaluate job applicants to make sure they are the right fit for a particular role or job. One of Crosby’s clients, Rose Chauffeured Transportation of Charlotte, has reduced its employee turnover rate from 30% to 11% by using his simple $35 test for every applicant. Crosby also hosts a weekly satellite talk radio show on Sirius/XM 131 Family Channel every Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. (http://www.soundbehavior.com/). Company information: http://www.globalbehavior.com/.
Fleeting intuitions: I happened to run into Erin Shields, owner of Green Carpet Limousine in the San Francisco Bay Area, while crossing the Show floor on opening day. She told me about her unconventional approach to her chauffeured fleet: A Mercedes-Benz ML350, a Toyota Prius, and two Lexus sedans. All green and clean vehicles, all foreign brands. Shields says the vehicles resonate with her progressive under-age-40 clients, the ones who work in Silicon Valley and are constantly reconfiguring the digital synapses of our society. Her company indicates that as younger generations move up in the chauffeured transportation world, they’ll be open to a wide variety of practical, comfortable vehicles, and not necessarily the biggest or the most traditional brands. Look for a more diverse fleet field in the future.
Niche ninjas: Two of the LCT Operator of the Year Award winners are strategically pursuing niche vehicle markets, proving that companies need to be constantly evolving in finding new clients and vehicles. Dennis Adams, CEO of Celebrity Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation near Philadelphia, plans to add two black Van Hool 57-passenger motorcoaches to his current fleet of two. Adams saw an opportunity in the corporate world for charter bus service, bought the highest quality, most luxurious buses he could find, and now gets enough business to sustain operating costs and turn a profit. Eli Darland, owner of Rare Form Limousine in Seattle, is planning a stretch limousine “cab” service in the King County area. He’s buying 12 used 6-passenger Lincoln Town Car stretch limousines that can be either hailed or reserved. Rates would start at $9 for a few minutes, and then go up in $10 increments based on time and distance. Such a concept would resonate with the evening bar and night club crowd, given the heavy DUI enforcement in the area, Darland says. And like a lot of things, black limousines start looking really good after last call.
Simple words: At the Minority Limousine Operators of America Association suite party, I heard some words that made me do a double take. After silencing the room, President Maurice Brewster welcomed guests, using generic faith terms such as “Amen,” “fellowship,” “God bless you,” and “grace.” You don’t often hear such references in a professional business setting. These expressions certainly aren’t new or edgy. But the overall hint, or concept behind them, serves as an enduring reminder that a set of guiding values are needed to conduct good business, regardless of one’s religious preferences (or non). At a time when bad ethics have sullied Wall Street, political divisions remain stark and angry, and our collective culture wallows in coarseness and attention deficits, such words stand as signposts for business people striving for a healthier marketplace.
-- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
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