Raphael Sousa, Rick Versace Jr., Robert Xavier, and Ryan Hilberth.
MIAMI, Fla. — At the culmination of the LCT Leadership Summit, The Fast40 Group hosted a panel session featuring four young industry professionals who outlined how Millennial buying habits and consumer behavior is having a functional impact on limo business.
The group consisted of:
Raphael Sousa, president and founder of SF Limo Express in San Francisco
Rick Versace Jr., young executive at A1A Limo, which was founded by his father Rick Versace Sr., in Boca Raton Fla. In 1986.
Robert Xavier, president and founder of Legend Limousine in New York City since 2003.
Ryan Hilberth, CEO of Rental Limo, with new product Book.limo, which allows operators to embed a user-friendly online booking tool onto their websites.
The key take-away from the session was that if operators delve deep into the mindsets of Millennials as a group, and go over data on their communication habits, buying behaviors, and how they trust social media for referrals and reviews, the better limo operators will be able to make operational changes in their businesses to better accommodate these new Millennial needs.
The session featured a breadth of topics, and each panelist showed how they have different ways of running operations at their companies. To recap:
SMS Text Messaging
With Millennials recording an astounding number of texts each day (roughly 88), limo operators are making efforts to enable text communication between chauffeurs and clients. Versace Jr., and Sousa explained that they have set their respective reservation softwares (Oddyssey and Limo Anywhere) so that clients receive texts notifying of their chauffeurs arrival and his or her name and contact number.
Website Traffic and Online Booking
Many operators are familiar with SEO (search engine optimization), and most have taken measures to make sure their websites give thorough descriptions of their vehicles and services. Many have call to action forms, where clients can fill out their information to request quotes, but many operators are now going with complete online booking portals so customers can book rides by themselves online.
Raphael Sousa has adopted Hilberth’s Book.limo booking system, and says that he regularly confirms bookings that come in through his website on a daily basis.
Website traffic is of course an invaluable metric for operators, but many are not going over the details of their online traffic to look for patterns. One exception to this is panelist Robert Xavier. By using Google Analytics, Xavier is able to track how each page of his website is performing, and also see what key words people are typing in to Google to get to his website.
By analyzing his website results, Xavier says he was able to foresee a rise in party bus and retail group transportation work, prompting a recent purchase of a large bus that quickly became profitable.
Social Media and Analytics
As Xavier showed how powerful data analytics can be, the conversation moved to how social media could be best used to effectively market to Millennials. Many operators are not themselves running their social media campaigns, and have outsourced the work to other companies or employees on their staff. A few key takeaways for social media are that limo operators should have a clear social media campaign, that includes at the very least Facebook and Twitter.
Posts should be made consistently (at least one a day), and often times curated content is more than suitable for sharing on your branded pages. Some great sources for content include following major hotels in your city, local restaurants, major airlines, OEMs like Cadillac, Ford, etc. Also, for oringial content posting, operators can turn to guides like Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook, and also this presentation from the ILCT Show 2014, “How Limo Operators Can Best Leverage Social Media,” by Michael Campos and Michael Campbell.
The session ended with a round of Q&A, with operators asking about more details for online bookings and social media interaction. Many operators said that they may not implement certain techniques as of yet, such as online booking, but they say it has not impacted their business yet. Some noted a prevalence for their customers to want to call in, over booking online, and others forecasted how they know they will have to change some parts of operations in the future, but are hesitant to do so at this time, feeling other concerns more pressing.
The session was a healthy exchange of ideas.
Thanks to all that were in attendance and who’ve contributed to Fast40 material in the past.
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