It is hard to believe that 2013 just flew right by. It seems like just yesterday I was waiting for the stroke of midnight in 1999, waiting to see if my network was going to crash, my ATM card would quit working and the world as we knew it would come to an end. Hard to believe that was 14 years ago.
As we enter 2014, I predict that the International LCT Show in Las Vegas next month will be the biggest, most well-attended show we have ever produced. I believe that the industry is craving education in everything from human resources issues to operations issues. We are a far cry from when I entered the business in the early 90s. Basically, if you had a valid license and a pulse, you could get a job in the business as a “driver.” Today, we hire chauffeurs. We expect them to be professional service providers and deliver Ritz-Carlton quality service to our passengers. Education is the key to success.
I predict as a result of a rash of bus crashes (three in California in the month of December) that we will see increased scrutiny from government officials as well as the clients we serve. It used to be almost unheard of that a charter bus or limousine had been involved in an accident. Maybe that is because there were a whole lot less of both on the road. Back in the day, charter bus companies ran buses and limousine companies ran limousines. Now, both types of companies offer both types of service. At any rate, we will be watched so mind your manners, keep accurate records, know the laws on hours of service and other driver qualifications because you will be watched and inspected.
Speaking of scrutiny, after the recent credit card data leak of Target customers, make sure you are up on the laws of credit card handling. I believe a lot of scrutiny will be placed on how companies handle credit cards internally after that leak. If Target could be hacked, I imagine hacking “ABC Limo Service” is certainly possible. In our business, we have the credit card info of powerful CEOs, celebrities and the well-heeled. A data breach could cause you a PR nightmare and loss of trust.
I predict hourly rates will be raised significantly. Most of us have not raised our rates in years as we were afraid to because of the recession. Now, that is clearly over and there have been so many more rules and regulations thrown at us during the past five years that rate increases are completely warranted. California operators had better start figuring out what they are going to do about those mandated emergency exits in limousines. The consumer will bear the cost of that. Thank you California State Legislature for that blunder.
Overall, I predict 2014 will be a banner year for all of us. Let’s roll!
— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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