While vacationing in Hong Kong last week, I took time out to visit the local division of London-based Tristar Worldwide Chauffeur Services, the largest luxury chauffeured transportation company based outside of the U.S., and the second-ranked company on this year’s upcoming LCT 100 Largest Fleets List.
General manager Gary Au talked with me at length about the Hong Kong and Chinese limousine markets, where the challenges of permitting and traffic make running limo service in such intense U.S. markets of Manhattan and San Francisco seem like a stroll in the park. Hong Kong is one of the world’s most congested urban traffic areas.
Operating in a city with a population of seven million and more than 3,000 tall buildings, Tristar uses only Mercedes-Benz sedans and Mercedes-Benz and Toyota luxury minivans to serve a predominantly corporate clientele.
In fact, you can’t reserve a traditional stretch limousine in Hong Kong because there aren’t any; it makes no sense in a city with so many narrow streets and traffic lanes where the only way to grow is to tear down a building and construct an even higher one. Hong Kong is so built up that skyscrapers are literally being built into mountainsides. The terrain limits how much of Hong Kong’s 382 square miles can be developed.
The city teems with headquarters or Asian divisions of most major global banks, investment and private equity firms, and an array of electronics and technology companies, as the corporate logos flashed across the waterfront skyline show. In this prosperous yet constricted environment, Tristar’s 10 Hong Kong-based employees go to great lengths to provide seamless top-quality chauffeured service with a 40-plus vehicle fleet (a mix of company-owned and independently contracted vehicles). The Tristar staff runs its daily operations from an office tower suite, using the latest in tracking and fleet management technology. I’ll have more details and photos in an article in the August issue of LCT Magazine.-- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
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