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Scott Ricio: Impress clients with top service so they will refer more business to you.
Business travel spending shows signs of recovery as the Global Business Travel Association forecasts an estimated $244.59 billion and $263.53 billion to be spent on business travel in 2011 and 2012, respectively — a boon for operators craving a revenue injection. To succeed in this market, operators must convey to clients that they have the appropriate equipment, people, and attitude to professionally manage groups of all sizes and needs.
“It all starts by informing your clients that you’re available for group work — not just the transportation aspect of it, but also the coordination and management of the entire process,” says Danny Bacher, CEO of Atlanta-based Topper Worldwide. “Let them know it’s a regular part of your business that you know how to handle.”
Make It Easy
Scott Riccio, President of Northeast Charter and Tour of Lewiston, Maine, says that meeting planners want to make transportation one less thing to worry about. “If you can accommodate their needs 101%, then you’ll build a good relationship with the clientele that will refer you to other clients when they come to your city,” he says.
H.A. Thompson: Top driver performance is crucial to earning the loyalty of clients arranging group events.
Value, Not Price
“It’s definitely difficult to compete with bus companies [that] offer lower prices,” says Bacher, “so you need salespeople who can verbalize the benefits of your service. Assure clients that the coordinators will be your coordinators, you’ll have an on-site point of contact, and you can handle the manifest and confirmations in a group report. Let them know what they’re actually getting for that additional cost.”
H.A. Thompson, President of Charlotte, N.C.-based Rose Chauffeured Transportation, adds that clients ultimately are buying value. “It’s just not bus to bus to bus, price to price to price,” he says. “Prove to clients that because they’re paying more, they’re getting a better product. Let them know that you have $10 million in insurance, a DOT rating, safety records, chauffeur training courses. Send out client testimonials to show your positive track record.”
Some operators may slash prices to compete with other companies, but Sami Elotmani, operations manager at Destination MCO of Orlando, Fla., advises against it. “There is nothing more permanent than a temporary discount. It bleeds your company’s revenue slowly and dilutes your company’s value over time.”