CHAUFFEURED TRENDS: Two recent Wall Street Journal stories point to wider indicators for the chauffeured transportation,in an economy sending mixed signals. A Feb. 13 article, “What Recession? Americans Regain A Craving For Luxury,” (actual article requires subscription) explains how luxury consumption shows signs of recovery and strength. On that theory, where Louis Vuitton goes, there go the limos, which is good for the upper slice of chauffeured clients. But a second article the same day, “CEOs Fly Coach? Business Travel Turns Frugal,” (MarketWatch access to article here) reports that companies are pressuring its employees to “travel down” to coach class and less expensive hotels, forgoing perks. The increase in business travel spending overall is attributed to higher pricing by providers, not more travelers. In an atmosphere where companies are pinching the perks, easily expendable chauffeured vehicle services should adapt by providing lower-priced tiered service to forestall an exodus to taxis and airport shuttles. That means: Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon Hybrid, Hyundai Genesis, etc. – affordably priced vehicles with good fuel mileage that can preserve the chauffeured service for cost-conscious business travelers. — Martin Romjue, LCT editor
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