Party buses are fast becoming a workhorse of the industry. With manufacturers including such amenities as fog machines, laser light shows, strobe lights, fiber optic lighting, and high wattage sound systems, these vehicles resemble a rolling night club.
Defining the Party Market
The term “party runs” often makes us think of bachelor and bachelorette parties, but the overall market stretches much wider. Other party occasions include birthdays, engagements, retirements, anniversaries, divorces, and of course, holiday parties. Other special days such as Super Bowl Sunday and St. Patrick’s Day easily can create a rollicking party.
There are other types of trips that can be made into a party with a little imagination and creativity such as concerts, wine tours, shopping, gambling, community social events, and of course, a “just because” party on Friday. Once you have defined the party market, it’s easier to decide how and where to market your party bus. Each type of party appeals to specific groups of people, and you need to focus your marketing in a way that catches the attention of the intended target audience. Of course, events such as birthdays, anniversaries, and wedding-related charters happen throughout the year.
Marketing Through Partnerships
JUST AS WE WANT to have our vehicles rolling as often as possible, other businesses have the same desire to serve as many clients as possible. Concert promoters want to sell tickets to their shows. Wineries want as many people as possible to taste their wine. Casinos want as many people as possible to visit and leave their money behind. This presents many opportunities to partner in marketing efforts saving both companies marketing dollars while increasing the distribution and reach of your message.
For example, most wineries have a wine club and send newsletters periodically.
Even if they don’t send a newsletter, they probably have a mailing list. By creating a partnership with four or five wineries in a distant area, you can both market to your mutual client lists. You also can create a package that includes a day of wine tasting with no tasting fees. You can pay the fees for your clients and build it into your price, or you can make an agreement with each winery that if a certain amount of wine is sold, they waive the tasting fees or invoice you for the fees if the minimum wine purchase is not achieved. Partnerships like this work well because you are contacting people who love wine. The wineries know that livery company clients are generally upscale clients with disposable income, and the two go hand in hand.
Likewise, casinos make great partners because they actually will pay you for every guest you deliver to the casino and provide a free room for your chauffeur to sleep during 24-hour turnaround trips. The casino can provide you with a contact list of people in your area who have “player” cards from their casino. They also can provide you with coupons for free buffets and free play at the casino to enhance the value of the trip by creating a “gambling party” package.
Creating Party Packages
Who doesn’t love a package? Packages tend to imply “great value.” Think about how the travel industry bundles airfare, rental cars, and a hotel for one price. It has an appeal to people to pay one price and get multiple items or services. The number and types of party packages that can be created are unlimited. For instance, you can partner with a concert promoter and a restaurant to create a great concert party package. The concert promoter may sell you tickets without any fees such as “convenience fees” or other markups done by ticket sellers. In a worst case scenario, you can buy the tickets from a ticket seller to build your package.
Restaurants are usually more than willing to engage in buy-one-get-one free promotions in exchange for being included in your advertising efforts.
You can create a complete package with transportation, pre-concert dinner party, and concert tickets for 20 people for one single price. If the restaurant charges you for 10 meals, you can charge the client for all the meals and make additional money above and beyond your charter rate.
You can create similar packages with casinos who will offer you coupons, hotel rooms, and other premiums to include in your package. You could put a gambling trip together that includes transportation, a free buffet meal, a free slot spin, and $100 of play money for one single price. Contact the transportation department or casino to find out how to become a vendor partner. How and Where to Advertise THIS IS PROBABLY the most important key to success. How you spend your marketing and advertising dollars is similar to throwing darts. The bulls eye is the target, but the closer you get to the target the more clients you will land.
The advancement of technology has improved and reduced marketing expenses of most businesses. The least expensive forms of advertising are email blasts, website ads, in-car advertising, and on-hold messaging. Except for printing costs for in-car advertising, there is no expense in these methods. You can change them as often as you like.
Using e-mail blasts, you can narrow down every client who has ever chartered a vehicle for wine tasting. This is called targeted marketing. Generally, people placed on hold on the telephone already are your clients and your message may appeal to them while they wait, resulting in two orders instead of one.
If you already mail a company newsletter, packages and specials certainly belong in each issue. In a partnership arrangement, both companies should be using these options for more effectiveness. Another free source of “advertising” is to convince a community magazine or newspaper that your package is so unique that it warrants a feature story. Contact the assignment editor to pitch your story.
If you are partnering with a restaurant, you may want to consider table tents or banners in the restaurant. Of course there are traditional mediums such as radio, television, newspapers, and direct mail. You should be able to negotiate trade for this type of advertising. When choosing advertising, think about whether you would notice the ad in your daily life. For instance, you can buy advertising on golf score cards, but do you ever read those ads or do you merely record your score?
Is it a grab rail, a rollover support pole, or a, um, stripper pole!? Let your passengers decide.
Everyone has a name for them depending upon your passengers, time of day, and type of trip. One thing is certain: Clients like them! While not really appropriate for corporate outings, they sure get used for the night on the town runs. A survey of 26 chauffeurs reveals that both men and women take their turns on the pole, with women being the more frequent users. There is no clearly defined age range as women in their 60s and men in their 20s twirl around the pole.
Pat Butler, general manager of Tiffany Coachworks, says, “People are requesting them and we are obliged by incorporating them into the design of our buses.” Butler says that the pole adds an element to party buses that just goes hand in hand with smoke machines, laser lights, and color changing neon, not to mention strobe lights.
Of the chauffeurs surveyed, all agreed that once alcohol is served, seemingly reserved passengers loosen up and perform erotic pole dances to the delight of fellow passengers. And equally pleased chauffeurs hope to observe this while parked as opposed to a quick glance in the rearview mirror.
Where to Advertise
- Community Magazine
- Table Tents
- Email Blast
- Direct Mailer
- In-Car Advertising
- Company Newsletter
- On-Hold Message
The Party Market
- Birthday Parties
- Bachelorette/Bachelor Parties
- Engagement Parties
- Retirement Parties
- Anniversary Parties
- Tea Parties
- Divorce Parties
- Holiday Parties
- Sports Parties/Events
- Wine Tours
- Shopping Trips
- Gambling Trips
- Community Events
- “Just Because”