ABOUT PHOTO: Buses from Dallas-based Wynne Motorcoaches line up in downtown Dallas for the Big Game Day.
SUPER BOWL = FISH BOWL: Dallas-Fort Worth area operators have been steeling themselves for the pack of clients expected to visit the North Texas region this weekend for the world's most prestigious sports and corporate event. Everyone will be watching to see how they get everyone to the game on time.
ARLINGTON, Texas — In football, the line of scrimmage forms where offensive linemen with the physiques of a bus battle to protect their quarterback from the equally-bulked-up human blenders on defense, and then push forward to bring the ball to the end zone. They have to grind it out play after play because one lax moment can cripple their cause. In chauffeured transportation, a successful strategy also depends on how well operators consistently match up to the critical mass of clients and maneuver amongst their demands.
With the NORTH TEXAS SUPER BOWL HOST COMMITTEE projecting 150,000-200,000 visitors to the Dallas-Forth Worth area for Super Bowl XLV — held this year at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington — DFW operators have had to prepare many months in advance. Part of the preparation has included bringing in additional vehicles and chauffeurs to deal with the sheer volume of expected clients.
Mark Shrayber of Dallas-based 360 LIMO said his company has been preparing for the Big Game since it was announced in May 2007.
“The pace of our preparations has exponentially increased as it’s gotten closer, but we started heavy planning for it last year, before Superbowl XLIV. We were expecting there would be some early bookers and we started working to make sure that our people had all the information they needed to be able to quote a price, and that we were able to answer a lot of the most frequently asked questions by the people coming in for Super Bowl,” Shrayber said, adding he’s trained about 100 part-time and temporary chauffeurs for the event.
Owner and CEO Eric Devlin of PREMIER TRANSPORTATION started booking most of his clients about six months ago, and shut down reservations as of Jan. 27. He commends fleet manager Todd Davis and operations coordinator Ted Hernandez for running the Super Bowl operation. “They’re the ones who are organizing this whole thing, working tirelessly around the clock nonstop.” Premier has rented 30 additional SUVs to boost his Game Day operation to 130 vehicles.
WYNNE SEDAN & LIMOUSINE, whose normal fleet consists of about 60 vehicles, has subcontracted vehicles from as far as Austin, Houston and Oklahoma City to boost that number to 140 for the Super Bowl.
E3 WORLDWIDE has increased its fleet by 20 vehicles, and ABOUT DFW’s Jay R. Smith says he’s combined workforces with his SISTER COMPANY and brought in vehicles from his out-of-state location.
Who’s coming to town
“Quite a few celebrities are coming in to host events, but what we’re really seeing is a lot of key-level executives coming in and hosting their biggest clients,” Shrayber said. “The top echelon of all corporations is going to be here.”
The NORTH TEXAS SUPER BOWL HOST COMMITTEE provides the following stats about the expected visitors:
• 60% classify their occupation as managerial or professional.
• 53% earn at least $75,000 a year.
• 38% earn more than $100,000.
• 56% are key decision-makers in their company.
• 60% of the above key decision-makers work at companies who host meetings outside of their corporate headquarters.
• 70% of these decisions-makers would consider holding a meeting in the host city after visiting because of the positive Super Bowl experience.
San Diego, Calif.-based Marketing Information Masters, Inc. expects the influx of visitors to generate an economic impact of $612 million to the North Texas region, a 20% increase from Super Bowl XLII’s record-setting $500 MILLION IMPACT on the state of Arizona.
PREMIER TRANSPORTATION has booked three major Super Bowl sponsors: Fox, Visa, and FedEx. They expect to do close to $500,000 in Super Bowl-related business in six days.
Eugene Krasny of E3 WORLDWIDE said he expects about $100,000 in additional revenue for the week of the game alone.
Adapt or get tackled
Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
In addition to bulking up their fleets and staff, operators are adapting their services to account for atypical client demands. “We’re not only acting as just a transportation company but also as a resource for our clients,” Shrayber said. “People would call and say ‘What golf courses do you recommend?’ So we put a list of the top 20 golf courses in the area that we take people to.”
“Because of who we’re carrying,” Devlin said, “we give great value to customer service. The expectation is perfection, and that’s what we strive for on each run, each day. It doesn’t matter what our clients ask — ‘go pick up my car keys, pick up my golf clubs, pick up my kids from school’ — we rarely say no, and that’s what’s made Premier what it is.”
“The main obstacle I’m most worried about is weather,” Devlin said. “Rain, ice or snow would make a huge impact on our ability to get around in a timely manner. The second biggest issue is traffic, due to the amount of visitors to the area.”
Devlin’s words have proven prophetic, as the DFW metroplex was being bombarded with snow and ice in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. This will drastically complicate operations as operators now have to deal with increased traffic and possibly more re-routing and street closures.
One of the key things the city has done for operators is brought all the major cities and counties together and agreed to one regional permit for the Super Bowl, Shrayber said. Generally, operators have to get a City of Dallas, City of Fort Worth, and DFW metroplex permits; the single regional permit saves quite a bit of time, money and resources.
COMING IN APRIL 2011 LCT MAGAZINE: What did operators learn from working the Super Bowl? What would they do different for the next big event?
— Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor