Robson Maciel of CS Brazil stands with two of his armored vehicles in the fleet.
The 2014 World Cup begins today, 1 p.m. PST, in the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo Brazil, with the opening match between Brazil and Croatia. Throughout the next 30 days of the tournament, more than a half-million soccer fans will throng the 12 host cities, amidst reports of half completed roads, bus stations, and soccer stadiums.
This week even, metro union workers in Sao Paulo have brought light rails to a standstill with protests, making visitors uneasy about whether public transportation can accommodate the large crowds on game day. But for the country’s private chauffeured transportation sector, the World Cup presents a golden opportunity to shine and score.
The streets, towns and public transportation problems are well known to these operators. They’ve learned to work in and around them to provide high-quality, luxury ground transportation to their clients. With customers now coming in from all over the world, (and many of whom having never been to Brazil before), the local limo operators have their work cut out for them.
One of the chauffeurs at Royal American, Disney Da Silva, is a decorated police officer from Rio De Janeiro. He has also served on the Miami SWAT team.
Tatiana Marinel, director of operations for Royal American Worldwide Limousine in Sao Paulo, says that as orders have come in for transportation, many clients are asking questions about the security of their travel and what procedures the company has in place for ensuring it. “Yes, the demand for armored vehicles and security services in general has increased considerably,” Marinel says.
But the company has kept security a priority even before the World Cup, and amassed a fleet of armored cars and staffed its chauffeurs with specialists. “Currently our fleet is comprised of 60% armored vehicles so we can handle the demand,” Marinel says. “But we did, however, have a few VIP clients request specific vehicles be armored, like a Range Rover Supercharged, Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7, and even a JAC T8 Minivan.”
Chauffeurs licensed to carry firearms during the World Cup are trained in tactical response and have police or military backgrounds.
Chauffeurs at Royal American are tactically trained and licensed to carry firearms, and they collaborate with existing security personnel if the client already has staff.
Marinel says most of her World Cup business already has been booked in advance by foreign travelers, but that last-minute orders are coming in this week. Many of those clients have not arranged flights yet.
“Based on experiences shared to me from friends who covered the last two World Cups in South Africa and Germany, they’ve told me to expect many more last-minute requests, especially going towards the finals.”
Royal American Limousine chauffeurs wait outside their sedans in front of a hotel in Rio De Janeiro.
For Robson Maciel of CS Brazil in Sao Paulo, the World Cup is a chance to showcase what his company can do and execute a well-planned strategy throughout the tournament. Maciel says he and his team of affiliates have prepared themselves through proper planning and experience.
“To tell you the truth, the World Cup started for us on the day Brazil announced it,” he says. “We stocked up on vehicles and made some new hires, and also got some great experience during the FIFA Confederations Cup last year. We planned out routes to all the major airports, hotels, and stadiums, which will help us with the logistics for this event.”
Maciel notes as well that safety is a top concern for many of the new clients. He has taken extra measures to ensure all clients are moved without incident during their stays. “We have funded evasive driving courses for all of our chauffeurs driving armored vehicles, and they have learned to properly evaluate and avoid potentially dangerous situations,” he says.
Awareness & Affiliates
Maciel’s affiliates in Rio De Janeiro often operate vehicles like these, with Hyundai Azeras and Kia Carnivals being popular fleet choices for Brazilian operators.
Knowing the area in detail is one of the first steps towards good service and safe transfers in Brazil, and Maciel works with a number of affiliates who are experienced in the local markets and confident in their abilities. Carlos, an affiliate of Maciel’s stationed in Rio De Janeiro, says that the increased security measures are important, but that most tourists will not have to worry during their stay. “The violence in Brazil against tourists is small,” he says. “We have wars from the drug traffickers in the favelas, but it’s not terrorism, and we work with VIP clients in Rio all the time. Our chauffeurs are well prepared.”
An armored Van Master Caravan from the Royal American Limousine fleet.
For both Royal American and CS Brazil, the affiliate relationships are going to be very important in making sure the operations run smooth. “Partnerships are essential during large events such as this,” Marinel says. “We are working very closely with our best affiliates to ensure flawless service. This is the first time Brazil hosts an event of this magnitude, so it’s going to be a first time experience for all of us. But we have been sharing our past experiences and brainstorming to find the best procedures to be adopted, and we have prepared contingency plans in case things go wrong. Together, we are all counting on each other to make the best out of it.”
Robson Maciel plans to deliver top-quality service to his clients during these next 30 days, and hopes it can turn into something more profitable long-term. “Yes, my biggest concern going into this World Cup, aside from Argentina beating Brazil, is whether we can deliver the great customer service I know we’re capable of. We are excited going in. Our business is geared toward corporate clients, but during this World Cup we will be transporting many people outside our main market segment, including tourists and travelers and also major sponsors and VIPs. They are coming for leisure and to enjoy their times at the games. Hopefully, we can make their experience something they never forget and possibly work with them again in the future.”
Tatiana Marinel, director of operations at Royal American Limousine and Robson Maciel, CCO of CS Brazil.