Industry Research

Special Report: The Worst Is Over for the Limo Market

Posted on April 1, 2004 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

The number of limousine companies in the U.S. has shown a modest, but important increase in recent months, rising by several hundred business from last year to 11,328 this year and representing the first year-to-year increase since the events of Sept. 11, according to Bobit Publishing President Ty Bobit.

Bobit and LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood outlined the latest industry research findings in their State of the Industry address at the LCT Show here.

Eastwood noted that there are about 125,000 vehicles in use in the limousine and chauffeured transportation industry and that there are about 140,000 full-time, part-time and independent chauffeurs.

She also noted that the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that $29 billion was spent on all ground transportation services in 2002, the latest year figures are available. The limousine and chauffeured transportation industry, with revenues of about $3.5 billion, accounted for 12% of that, she added.

Other data outlined by Bobit and Eastwood at the presentation included:

  • About half of industry revenue comes from business travel and airport runs. Twenty-two percent comes from weddings and proms, 16% from nights out on the town, 6% from hotel/resort/casino contracts and 5% from tours.
  • The average hourly rate for sedans went up in 2003 by $2 an hour to $48. Six-passenger limousines increased $1 dollar an hour to $62, eight-passenger limos went up $2 an hour to $77, super-stretch limos decreased by $1 an hour to $103, stretched SUVs increased $4 an hour to $139 and vans/shuttles jumped by $12 an hour to $66.
  • The percentage of operators using on-staff drivers, rather than independent contractors has grown steadily in recent years. Last year, 58% of drivers were employees.
  • The biggest concern for operators of all sizes was insurance. But another key concern affecting large fleets is worker’s comp. For small to medium fleets, collections from farm-outs is high on the list. For home-based businesses, gypsies are a major concern.
  • Passenger preferences, not surprisingly, vary based on what type of car they are using, Bobit and Eastwood concluded: * For wedding clients, the vehicle of choice is typically a traditional limo. The most important features are timeliness and chauffeur personality. The least important features are the sound system and onboard electronics.
  • For proms and nights out, the vehicle of choice is a black stretched SUV. The most important features are the sound system and interior esthetics such as lighting and DVD player. “The more bells and whistles the better,” Eastwood said. Least important is a chauffeur with personality.

For corporate work, the vehicles of choice are sedans and non-stretch SUVs. The most important features are timeliness, vehicle cleanliness, and the chauffeur’s personality. The least important feature is a fancy sound system.

Bobit also outlined the results of a study his company conducted last year that gained national attention with business publishers. Hundreds of people in each of Bob Publishing’s magazine markets were asked about where they obtain information for doing their job.

Trade magazines were the sources most relied on for information and insight, cited by 84% of those surveyed. This was followed by Internet sites, cited by 56% of the respondents, and trade shows, cited by 53% of the respondents. Other sources of information included general business magazines (41%), professional organizations (35%), newspapers (18%), direct mail (14%), and sales reps (9%). The State of the Industry presentation was sponsored by Cadillac.

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