The landscape of business transportation constantly changes. Our client base is becoming more sophisticated in understanding the procurement of ground transportation. With the dismal economic conditions, corporate buyers are being asked to deliver more for less while keeping environmental sustainability in the mix. Transportation companies unable to quickly adapt to meet these needs will struggle to remain competitive.
Consider the corporate meeting planner. Today all eyes are open to the excessive spending corporations have made in the past for business travel, training, and sales meetings. Shareholders are looking closely at how corporate executives travel and spend. Meeting planners need to cut the fat yet still deliver the same service level that the executives have become accustomed to. Additionally, corporate executives will not start riding in taxis. Gone are the days of pulling up to a meeting in a stretch limousine, but it is probably not realistic for corporate executives to give up the convenience and comfort of the Town Car ride.
Corporate travel budgets are being sliced as much as 50%. Some meeting planners are being forced to cut out destination management companies (DMCs) and do the work themselves at the destinations, thus creating an excessive amount of work in a region unfamiliar to them. Ground transportation is becoming the last piece in the equation once all of the services have been ordered. Manifests are being prepared at the last minute for ground transportation, and groups are being sent to transportation companies as late as the day before the movement. Without the involvement of the DMC, manifests are being sent unchecked, forcing the transportation company to perform much of the work previously done by the DMC.
At Coastal Car and Limousine, we have seen and anticipated this new paradigm. We view these changes as an opportunity. Looking forward, we created an application (Manifest Optimization Solutions, MOS 1.0) which allows us to take the raw manifest and dump it into the software, allowing the software to do the cleansing. What had taken our staff hours of work — checking flights, reviewing manifests, and grouping trips — now is done in a matter of minutes. After using MOS 1.0 internally servicing our local market, we now support this application to our local DMCs and meeting planners. For meeting planners, ground transportation is usually one of their biggest hurdles. The software removes a lot of the legwork from the meeting planners. They no longer need to be “Excel warriors,” performing multiple manipulations of their manifests.
We realized that this application has a much greater use than just for our in-house purposes. Other limousine companies, hotel group departments, and destination management companies will all get value from the tool we created to make our own company more efficient. We began to recognize that all ground transportation companies can benefit from this application, and we should make it available to the industry.
We have created a separate entity known as Event Ground Global (EGG) to allow our industry the ability to use MOS 1.0 to handle ground transportation for meetings and events. This will streamline the painful process when handling groups and save the limousine operator time and money.
We believe that companies that create and deliver value added to their clients will remain in the forefront throughout this economic crisis. Delivering superior service is no longer enough. We need to support our customers and help them lighten their workloads. Creating solutions that they can run will give you the advantage.
– Evan Michaels is the owner of Coastal Car and Limousine, based in South Florida. Coastal operates 50 vehicles in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.