Populist Peeps On The Rebound

Posted on November 30, 2016 by - Also by this author

A most blissful experience: A politically incorrect industry at play, LCT-NLA Show East 2016 @ Harrah's Atlantic City (LCT file photo)
A most blissful experience: A politically incorrect industry at play, LCT-NLA Show East 2016 @ Harrah's Atlantic City (LCT file photo)
By now, I’ve had plenty of time to digest the biggest political earthquake of my post-JFK lifetime and one of the biggest professional ones of the year, only days apart. The Nov. 8 election upset fell just days before the YOUnited We Stand-themed LCT-NLA Show East, Nov. 13-15.

While I noticed polite avoidance of political topics during our show, the undercurrent among the hinted, hushed conversations with “exchanged glances” leaned toward relief over a Donald Trump victory. Judging by attendees’ spirits, both aural and alcoholic, the world doesn’t seem to be headed into a dyspeptic fascist abyss. [My favorite social moment happened after 1 a.m. Nov. 14 when the networking club party at Harrah’s ceased throbbing and the pleasured hordes marauded the Sunday-night-staffed casino bars. [Rounds of good moods were had by all, except the bartenders].

I’ve concluded one of the things that unites us Americans is we are prone to very naughty streaks, which is why so many respectable people can say all the right things in public, but fib a little about voting for Trump. I couldn’t help but notice that Trump, despite his infamous and widely condemned 2005 recording about women, still won the election as James Deen (Google him privately if you must) is making a comeback, thanks in part to female viewers who like his, um, performance art. Meanwhile, 50 (shameful) Shades Of Grey hits sequel status. As I say, naughty Americans.

During the campaign, smart businesspeople kept politics and personal views under wraps for fear of annoying or alienating the “50% other,” which for most of us are people we really like but privately can’t understand how “someone so nice could vote for so-and-so.”

What can now be acknowledged is the fact an industry full of 24/7 heavy-metal-on-the-ground “Real Street” businesspeople tends to gravitate toward others with business experience and backgrounds, hence Trump. I would add after more than eight years observing the limousine industry, it definitely has more of a populist streak. Not literal in an ideological sense, but in that it instinctively prefers upstarts, underdogs, comeback kids, straight talkers, and everyday working people who don’t have elite, upper-echelon connections. Most of us can’t make a call and get a beloved offspring into Harvard, nor can we dial up Goldman Sachs to arrange a specific job with a start date after our next stay in the Hamptons.

Populism also defines other aspects of this industry, namely the changing scene in finding affiliates and buying and selling vehicles. I will now revert to my overt biases and point out how our two scrappy upstart websites, Limoforsale.com and LCTConnect.com, are quite populist in empowering small to medium-size fleet operators to make their businesses great. The latest figures from the National Limousine Association show 69% of its owner-operator members run 1-10 vehicles and 96% run fewer than 50 vehicles.

Gone are the days when an operator who wants affiliate business is at the mercy of the large networks and their volume-driven terms and conditions. If you can get it, wonderful, but any operator of any fleet size — thanks to LCTConnect.com, social media, and our B4 Business speed affiliate dating events at our trade shows — can cobble together a customized affiliate network on mutually agreed terms. Likewise, buying used and new fleet vehicles of all types can be direct transactions on Limoforsale.com.

Populism is all about taking power away from middlemen and meddlers, regulators and resistors. Throw in all the industry technology shake-ups we’ve been reporting all along in LCT Magazine and LCTMag.com, and there emerges what I call the industry’s populist winning formula: Mobile technology + custom affiliating + direct B2B vehicle sales = Stronger businesses. It's the best approach during a time of consolidations and TNC hooligans.

While we can’t directly credit any of these changes to Trump, we sure can celebrate that unstoppable American entrepreneurial spirit of doing things better, your way. From YOUnited We Stand, we now head to “Embrace The New.”

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