If 2011 revealed that an embattled industry of about 6,000 limousine operators could hold things together after three horrible years, 2012 was all guts and glory.
The numbers on the annual Fact Book chauffeured transportation survey look good. Overall industry revenue is up. New start-ups are inching the head count closer to pre-recession levels. Overall, the industry is “back in the black,” with operators finally able to afford to dump and replace their ragged fleets and outdated technologies.
These newly minted survivors are a changed group. It only took attending the recent International LCT Show in Las Vegas to see the youthful surge into this industry. What’s more, most of our industry hipsters are of the same generation. In fact, my team was so inspired by the energy and intellect of this emerging crop of operators that we started a free networking group called the LCT FAST<40. The catch is you have to be under the physical age of 40, although this industry has plenty of members 40 and up who think, act and move like this age group.
My Gen X and Y editorial team just launched a Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/LCTFast40, in advance of the group’s official kick off meeting at the LCT Leadership Summit June 9-11 in Miami Beach. We plan to make the LCT Fast 40 an established group that meets at all LCT events and stays digitally connected throughout the year. What’s cool is that the Fast 40 sessions will revolve around think-tank style ideas presented by a rotating panel. Industry members of all ages are welcome to sit in to hear how the Gen Ys are shaping their companies for the future!
Our numbers reveal a welcome resurgence of the optimism that has historically defined our industry. It is time to get your pricing righted by transitioning fleets and bringing service offerings to Ritz-Carlton levels. We have long realized that you are moving the same clients who stay at the best hotels and fly first-class. Unfortunately, too many operators cut service standards in the recessionary years. They pulled it off for a while, but it’s catching up to us now. We are falling down in some service areas and it shows.
The recession sped up the explosion of technology that could save businesses time and money, especially the use of mobile apps. I urge anyone concerned about Uber to bite the bullet and come to the Summit. We have assembled a two-hour in-depth meeting that will tackle this subject and seek to better understand the dramatic effects this new technology imposes on all of us. Managed travel (handled by a corporate travel manager) versus unmanaged travel (handled independently by the business traveler) is at the heart of “The Big Picture” technology event happening the first day of the Summit. If you service the business travel market, I strongly encourage you to attend. The ultimate goal of this session is to figure out how bookings will be handled into the future.
Thank you for participating in our industry wide survey. I know answering all of those pesky questions is annoying. However, look at the fruits of your labor! The LCT Fact Book is the most reliable source of information about the limousine industry, providing a valuable resource shared by all.