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Five-star hotels are major consumers of chauffeured transportation. Guests at these properties expect stellar service and they pay top dollar to receive it. How can you tap into this business?
At the International LCT Show in Las Vegas in February, two industry veterans explained how they got past the doorman with these properties. Jeff Greene of Greene Classic Limousines Worldwide Transportation of Atlanta and Kurt Siejkowski of Wilshire Limousine Services of Los Angeles each have a full book of hotel accounts — and each one more impressive than the next.
Greene Worldwide serves the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta and Buckhead, Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, W Atlanta Hotel, W Buckhead Hotel, W Downtown Hotel, Grand Hyatt Atlanta, Westin Atlanta, and the Marriott Evergreen Resort. Wilshire Limousine serves hotel accounts including the Peninsula Beverly Hills, L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, The Beverly Hilton, The Ritz-Carlton at LA Live, Casa Del Mar, Shutters on the Beach, Lowes Santa Monica Beach Hotel, the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows, The London West Hollywood, and the Mondrian.
“I have been doing hotel work since my inception,” Greene said. “Hotels want dependability, reliability and uniformity.” Adds Siejkowski: “We have 12 exclusive contracts with five-star properties. We court these accounts. They are important to our portfolio.”
Getting In The Door
The operators suggest building relationships with the decision makers and those with influence. They look at hotel owners, general managers, hotel managers, sales teams, and the concierge. “In every hotel chain and property there is a hierarchy,” Greene said. “You need to understand the hierarchy and who the decision makers are.”
Siejkowski advises that operators should join the same professional organizations that hotel managers belong to. “Hotel general managers have their own trade organizations,” he said. “Find out where you can go to engage them. Look at hotel hosted events and functions, concierge association meetings, convention and visitors’ bureaus, local marketing committees and the Chamber of Commerce.”
Both agree that joining these organizations alone will not get you an in. “You need to actively participate in them. Don’t just be a member,” Siejkowski said. He suggests paying visits to the properties you target at down times. He believes the staff should be familiar with you and that you develop a trust with them. “Be prepared to go full throttle once you get there,” Greene added.
A prospective chauffeured service provider also should thoroughly understand the particular needs and demands of a hotel and its clientele. Greene suggests asking questions such as: “What are you looking for in a ground transportation provider?”