LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Hundreds of operators at the International LCT Show this year took advantage of two affiliate “speed-meet” events, sponsored by Limos.com, to network and establish affiliate connections worldwide.
The events — an international meet held Tuesday and a domestic one on Wednesday — were designed to resemble the recently invented social practice of “speed-dating,” where participants to introduce themselves and cut to the chase to see if there is a viable business match between their companies.
There were 19 international and 19 U.S.-based affiliates set up at tables each day, set up in an area adjacent to the trade show floor. While affiliates were seated at a table, operators spent 90 seconds standing in front of each company’s table presenting their “elevator pitches” and trying to learn more about potential business partners before immediately moving on to the next table and possible opportunity.
Both meetings proved even more popular than expected, with 60-plus people on the International Speed Meet waiting list alone.
The successful speed meets improved upon the industry’s first-ever formal affiliate speed meet held Oct. 7, 2009 during the LCT Eastern Conference at the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino in Connecticut, which proved popular beyond expectations. LCT’s events staff fine-tuned and expanded the format to accommodate heightened interest among operators looking to aggressively grow business opportunities on the cusp of an economic recovery.
GLOBAL: Responding to growing demand
The “International Affiliate Speed Meet” gathered U.S. operators with overseas network companies hailing from parts of the world as diverse as Tokyo, Sao Paulo, and Zurich.
As business cards flew back and forth, operators waiting in line were eager to get their chance to connect, and had expectations as varied as their overseas counterparts.
• James Campbell, President of Campbell’s Touch of Class in Chapel Hill, N.C., said that he was looking forward to connecting with the European representatives, since his operation is seeing more travelers from Europe and Russia. Todd Mastro, owner of Naples, Fla.-based Maxi-Taxi of Florida, Inc., said he has had the same experience with his operation.
• Andrew Perez, executive director of sales and marketing of Elegant Limousine in San Antonio, Texas, said he was looking for an extension of the affiliates’ companies at his San Antonio and Austin operations. “Our company is very strong. We’d like to take them on,” he added.
• Darren Croasdale, general manager of San Diego-based La Costa Limousines, said that more than anything, he wanted to expand his existing international affiliates. “I only have five. I’d like to leave here with 10 or 15 if I can. We’ve only had a need for international affiliates in the last two years, with lots of corporate clients.”
Operators’ hopes were echoed on the overseas side of the table. A representative of the Paris-based Edward Limousines, president Patrick Pierrot, said, “We talked about how we can make this a win-win relationship.” He added that while all kinds of new forms of technology are changing the way we communicate, the face-to-face element is still critical.
DOMESTIC: Strengthening connections at home
The speed meet for networking with domestic affiliates, held on Wednesday, was also a success, with operators once again chomping at the bit for their chance to wow affiliates.
• Gary Tonkin, principal and managing member of Mesa, Ariz.-based Sky Mountain Limo, said that he had his brochures and introduction ready. “You can talk all day long, but having the right information is key.” He added that in his presentation he would promote two aspects of his business: transportation and security. “We can handle security from the East to the West Coast.”
• Louis Weiner, president of All-Star Limousines in Pittsburgh, Pa., said that because of the short amount of time available to convey everything his business has to offer, “It’s important to let them know quickly and eloquently what you do.”
• Mike Passognelli, of Club Limo in York, Penn., noted the long-term value of the networking event. “Even if you don’t get business from it now, you’re getting your face out there. It gets more people in communication with each other, and it’s a good time to have that one-on-one.”
Source: Nicole Schlosser, LCT Magazine