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In the first part of our “Best Bus Ideas” series in the June/July issue, operators shared tips and advice on how to handle big groups traveling to business meetings and conventions. This installment includes a broad array of practical advice on improving customer service, managing fleets of vans, minibuses and motorcoaches, and pursuing reliable revenue-generating contracts.
A. Goff Limo, Charlottesville, Va., 55 vehicles
Owner Dan Goff has found that the leading customer base he serves are schools. Schools use big vehicles for multiple needs, such as transporting sports teams, university or school officials, and even inter-campus student transit. “A school contract’s strength is the fact that you’re providing repeat transportation for a fixed customer base,” Goff says. “Our largest individual client is a university and makes up about 13% of our revenue alone.” Goff offers the following advice when pursuing school contracts:
- Universities will appreciate a focus on service, quick turnaround, and flexible change and cancellation policies; make sure to emphasize this during your sales pitch.
- Product knowledge carries the day: when you sit down with administrators about their needs, assume they don’t do this every day and that you’ll have to help them figure out what they need.
- Develop a long-term relationship by offering more than just chartering sports teams or university-based events; if you have the vehicles, propose to provide student transit service or inter-campus service.
- Minibuses are wonderful for universities because they are nimble and don’t take up a lot of space, yet carry high passenger loads.
- As the “master of transportation,” you should be able to help university administrators with scheduling, understanding what the responsibilities are for transportation, and understanding their role as coordinators.
- Schools require that you have an emergency plan for each event.
Be On The Winning Team Every Time
All Resort Group, Park City, Utah, 167 vehicles
With a large fleet of motorcoaches, shuttles, and sedans, All Resort Group’s Lewis Stages motorcoach division handles clientele ranging from executives requiring airport transfers to athletes traveling to Olympic Park to many of the sports teams requiring game-day transportation. Geary Furin, director of sales, says one key to more business is being the preferred transportation service for your local teams and the visiting teams.
“If we’re the preferred vendor for the Utah Jazz, then we contact all of their visiting teams with a recommendation from the Jazz and that’s usually all it takes,” Furin says. “It works for professional and college teams.”
He says dependability is critical for these teams, and the way to win their contracts is by providing the best service in the best equipment for the best price, then the best service once again. “The driver needs to be knowledgeable, reliable, and flexible because there are always changes and last-minute additions. Flexibility is a big point for corporate and team planners.”
Furin also says it’s important to find your company’s specialties and see if they fit in different markets. “We’ve become such experts in mountain destinations in Utah that now we’re looking at places like Jackson, Wyoming and Lake Tahoe,” he says.
All Resort Group also keeps close relationships with DMCs, resorts, hotels, and CVBs. “If someone comes to the city for an event, they might look for lodging before transportation, so having a good relationship with resorts, hotels and CVBs is crucial because they are able to recommend us to their clients.”