Operations

Operators in Belgium, Brazil, England, France, and Canada Share Their Insights on Global Alliances and Network Affiliations

Posted on January 1, 2006 by Jon LeSage and JoLynn Vensel, staff writers

Page 1 of 2

Just like in the U.S. international limousine companies know the importance of being able to offer their clients chauffeured transportation worldwide for one-stop service. LCT spoke with nine overseas and Canadian operators and found out that what they look for in an affiliate, as well as the process for choosing one, is similar, if not the same, as it is in the states.

PHILIP HEIRMAN

AAAC Limousines Bvba Sprl

Brussels, Belgium

Q: What is your company's background?

A: I started AAAC Limousines in 1998 as a side job when I was a limousine driver. I started renting wedding cars and classic ve­hicles, and in 2003, I began renting sedans and vans for corporate clients.

Q: When you find an international affiliate you want to work with, how do you prove to them you are a reputable company as well?

A: We tell them we work with other limou­sine networks and these companies know we provide quality service. We are a small limousine company but we always pick up the phone and are available 24/7. We also answer important incoming e-mails within the hour.

Q: If you are an NLA member, how has membership helped your business?

A: The NLA Ride Guide and several phone conversations with the NLA have been very helpful.

PHILIPPE BRESCIANI

Cote d'Azur Limousines

Paris, Cannes, Courchevel, and

Geneva, France

Q: What is your company's back­ground?

A: Cote d'Azur Limousines has been around since 1980. About 70%, of our business is corporate clients and about 30% is tourists. Our fleet consists mostly of Mercedes S Class and E Class, vans (Mercedes Viano), Volkswagens, and Porsche Cayennes, All our vehicles are 2006 models.

Q: How do you find an international affiliate and make sure it is a professionally run company?

A: We usually work with NLA members, or we work with companies recommended by our existing affili­ates. We also research com­panies on the Internet.

Q: When you find an inter­national affiliate you want to work with, how do you prove to them that you are a reputable company as well?

A: Our company has been in business for 26 years and we have a very good repu­tation. I think the way we conduct business shows that we are a pro­fessionally run company.

Q: If you are an NLA member, how has membership helped your busi­ness?

A: It has provided us with good networking opportunities NLA partners know more about us and we are able to learn a lot about our industry.

CRAIG MCCUTCHEON

Rosedale Livery Limited Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Q: What is your company's back­ground?

A: Rosedale Livery has been in business for 25 years. We operate around 70 vehicles, which include 59 sedans, specialty vehicles, and one hybrid. Our clientele is primari­ly corporate, and the remaining is retail business stemming from our corporate clients. We also have built a large international network of affiliates.

Q: How do you find an international affiliate and make sure it is a pro­fessionally run company?

A: The majority of our affiliates have been selected by word-of-mouth referrals. We also rely on the LCT Show and other industry events to meet these potential affili­ates in person. We also visit opera­tions in our larger markets.

Q: When you find an international affiliate you want to work with, how do you prove to them that you are a reputable company as well?

A: The fact that we've been in busi­ness for 25 years speaks for itself. We will offer references from other limousine companies if required.

Q: Once you've secured an inter­national affiliate, how do you suc­cessfully market and benefit from your alliance?

A: On each phone call, our customer service representatives offer clients service in other cities. We also keep in constant communica­tion with our corporate clients.

Q: If you are an NLA member, how has membership helped your busi­ness?

A: Being a member has allowed us to network with our peers through NLA-sponsored events. Being in the know regarding regulations, etc. has enabled us to avoid potential over sights without affiliates and in our own business.

Q: To keep up on business travel trends, many U.S. operators are members of the National Business Travel Association (NBTA). Are you a member of any travel industry organization? If so, how has membership benefited your company?

A: Being an allied member of the NBTA has been very good for us since the association presents a large portion of the corporate ground spend managers. There is a trend in the corporate world to better manage them ground spend. Operators need to be able to handle the changing needs of the corporate traveler. Corporations are looking for a one stop solution.

RANDY SNIDER

Star Limousine Service Ltd

Vancouver, B.C. Canada

Q: What is your company’s background?

A: Star Limousine Service has been in the business since 1980 and we have 70-plus employees. We operate 38 vehicles which include Lincoln Executive L sedans, six Dodge Sprinter vans, six Lincoln limousines, four super-stretch J-Seater limousines, two stretch SUVs, four SUV Excursions, seven Ford 10-passenger E-350 vans, two 22-passenger minibuses, and one 21-passenger limo bus. Ninety per­cent of our business is corporate.

Q: How do you find an international affiliate and make sure it is a professionally run company?

A: Finding an international affiliate requires some investigating but the Worldwide Chauffeur website (www.worldwidechauffeur.com) has done all the detective work for you. It offers an up-to-date list of transportation networks. After pur­chasing the network list, the only effort for the operator is to call and make his/her presentation and con­tinue to build on that relationship. I've found that if you call an opera for and are told that he is content with his out-of-town provider, this may not he the ease in the months to come so keeping in contact is crucial. Even calling a company that docs farm out work but tells you they don't have an affiliate in your city because they haven't had any work there yet is not a dead end. I knew a company where this was the case and they called us for a $10,000 job!

Q: When you find an international affiliate you want to work with, how do you prove to them that you are a reputable company as well?

A: Our reputation is based on the fact that we have been in business for 26 years, we work with the ma­jority of networks that farm work into our city, we have the most diversified and modern equipment in our city, we have been attending limousine shows since they began in 1984, we have worked with gov­ernment, politicians, and major corporations, and we have been named the winner of the Consumer Choice Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, and the winner of the Vancouver Tourism Awards in October 2003.

Q: If you are an NLA member, how has membership helped your busi­ness?

A: We've been a member since approximately 1988. Several years ago, the NLA assisted British Columbia in legalizing sedans for hire. Vancouver was the first international city that the NLA had become involved in assisting one of its members. Star Limousine, with the successful alteration of an outdated legislation. Star Limousine currently has the largest sedan fleet in Vancouver.

ED AND KYARA KAHAKAUWILA

LA Limousines Victoria, B.C., Canada

Q: What is your company's back­ground?

A: We have been in business for 17 years. We have 16 vehicles, which include sedans, SUVs, limousines, SUV limousines, vans, one limo bus, and one classic limousine. We have 25 staff members, including maintenance and detailing workers. Our corporate clientele ranges from government officials, the film and entertainment industry, conference attendees, and business professionals. We have a large contingent of tourist-based clientele with hotels, resorts, cruise ships, and tours. We provide services for all types of occasions, such as weddings, graduations, and funerals.            

Q: How do you find an international affiliate and make sure it is a professionally run company?

A: We use NIA members exclusively. We contact connections we have developed at the LCT shows.

Q: When you find an international affiliate you want to work with, how do you prove them that you are a reputable company as well?

A: We provide them references if requested and tell them the other companies and international affiliate networks we work with. We inform them of our industry involvement, such as being a member of the NI.A and our local associations.

Q: Once you've secured an inter­national affiliate, how do you suc­cessfully market and benefit from your alliance?

A: We have the ability to provide our local clients with transportation in other cities and markets. This also helps when working with ho­tels or other destination management companies, knowing that we can help service their needs on local, national, and global levels.

Q: How has your NLA membership helped your business?

A: Since joining in 1991 as the first NLA-related livery company in Western Canada, we have found that other companies within the NLA have routinely referred business to us. The NLA has been willing to work with our government on issues concerning our local industry.

Q: To keep up on business travel trends, many U.S. operators are members of the National Business Travel Association (NBTA). Are you a member of any travel industry or­ganization? If so, how has it benefit­ed your company?

A: We are members of several travel-and destination organizations in­cluding Tourism Victoria and the VI Meeting. Planners and Suppliers or­ganization. These two organizations have benefited us because they target business travel clients nationally and internationally.

DARREN TILLEY

Driven Worldwide Ltd.

Blackheath, London, England

Q: What is your company’s background?

A: Driven Worldwide Ltd. was established in April 2000 to provide investment banks and logistics companies with international chauffeur driven services for financial road shows, conferences and special events, a sector in which we specialize exclusively in Driven World Wide Inc was established in New York in April 2001 to create and manage a pan American affiliate network, equal in quality and integrity to our London office. Driven A to B was launched in April 2005 to offer a new, low cost airport and point to point transfer service to our existing clients.

In London, we currently operate 50-plus vehicles mainly the Mercedes S Class and Viano and we employ 27 staff between our London and New York offices. In terms of size, this year we expect our group sales to be nearly $15 million, so while we aren’t the biggest we are now an established player in both the European and U.S. markets.

Q: How do you find an international affiliate and make sure it is a professionally run company?

A: We initially create a list of companies through word-of-mouth recommendations, the Internet, and industry directories, such as the NLA Directory. We also seek the advice of existing affiliates in the region and find out which companies the higher-end hotels and private jet FBOs are using. We also will look at airport websites and local online trade directories and ask chambers of commerce to suggest possible candidates. If any member of our staff is traveling to the region we encourage them to conduct their own research by speaking with hotel concierges and to make a note of the companies represented in the arrival hall of the airport.

Next, we will look at the compa­ny's website and call them to ask certain questions about their opera­tion to see if they can fulfill our needs. Key questions include:

  • Is the company a 24/7 operation?
  • Are any of its reservationists multi-lingual?
  • What are its fleet size and profile?
  • When we call, do we speak di­rectly to a person or do we have to negotiate a convoluted automated telephone system?
  • Does the company mainly pro vide corporate transportation or in­dividual services for weddings, proms, etc.?

On the basis of these and other questions, we will reduce the list to two or three com­panies and then we will contact each one to introduce ourselves formally and request they complete a detailed questionnaire. We ask specific questions about their capability and experience in handling road shows, details about their chauffeurs, their billing cycle, preferred method of payment, etc. Occasionally, an affiliate may be reluctant to answer such in-depth questions, so it's important for us lo be up front with them and explain what we are looking lo achieve. We also will ask for rates at this point and based on the information collected, we will decide on two affiliates to try out. After we establish trailing accounts and ask the affiliate to enter into a formal service-level agreement with us that covers our respective commercial and legal responsibilities, we will send bookings for straightforward services, usually airport transfers. We will monitor their performance very carefully over a period of months upon which time we may formalize their position as our primary/sec­ondary supplier or possibly look for another affiliate if their performance has been sub-par.

Q: When you find an international affiliate you want to work with, how do you prove to them that you are a reputable company as well?

A: We try to build credibility by being honest about what we need from them and what we can offer in return, and we don't promise business that we don't have. Being a prompt payer is another way to establish credibility and we work hard to pay our affiliates on time. The key here is to treat the rela­tionship as a symbiotic one because we need them at least as much as they need us, if not more. We value courtesy and loyalty very highly and we try hard to incorporate these basic values into our working relationship.

Q: Once you've secured an inter­national affiliate, how do you suc­cessfully market and benefit from your alliance?

A: We have never actively encour­aged or insisted that an affiliate gives us business in return for what we give them. We work with our affiliates because they are the best, not because of how much recipro­cal business they can send us, al­though it is very welcome.  An affiliate always will have loyalties to other companies and we must re­spect that. Provided we receive a quality service at a competitive rate, we are happy.

Q: If you are an NLA member, how has membership helped your busi­ness?

A: The NLA Directory has been a very useful source of leads for us in establishing our affiliate network.

FABIO LIMA DUARTE

Diplomat Services

The Executive Travel Compass

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Q: What is your company's back­ground?

A: Diplomat Services was estab­lished in 1991 to provide quality ground transportation services for corporate executives. The major opening of the Brazilian economy in the early '90s generated a great flow of foreign executives with commercial interest, which caused our business to boost.

In 2004, Diplomat Services brought European (the largest car rental company in Europe) to Rio de Janeiro. Currently, our total fleet is 120 cars, which included sedan, minivans, vans, SUVs, and armored cars as well as cars for rent without a driver.

Our clients are 75% corporate, including Fortune 500 companies, 20% special events, and 5% leisure travelers and individual VIPs, such as Pele, Morgan Freeman, Mariah Carey and Michael Douglas, among others.

Q: How do you find an international affiliate and make sure it is a professionally run company?

A: We either choose an NLA member in the city requested or we will get leads from a company or a customer. We ask them to give us past and present client references, how they operate and details about their fleet.

Q: When you find an international affiliate you want to work with, how do you prove to them that you are a reputable company as well?

A: By informing them of all the companies we represent and have worked with for several years and providing our clientele list.

Q: Once you've secured an inter­national affiliate, how do you suc­cessfully market and benefit from your alliance?

A: By getting and giving more busi­ness from/to the affiliate. We offer our clients a wider range of options by including other city/countries to our services.

Q: If you are an NLA member, how has membership helped your busi­ness?

A: Being the only NLA member in Brazil has brought us more requests clue to the good reputation and ex­posure of its members.

Q: To keep up on business travel trends, many U.S. operators are members of the National Business Travel Association (NBTA). Are you a member of any travel industry or­ganization? If so, how has member­ship benefited your company?

A: We are members of the Brazilian Travel Business Association, the Brazilian Travel Agents Association, and the Brazilian Commercial Avia­tion Executives Association. Being a member of such reputable organi­zations gives our clients confidence in us and has allowed us to devel­op valuable liaisons in the travel in­dustry.

Q: Is there anything you'd like to add?

A: Diplomat Services provides clients with services other than a regular limousine company can. Due to our corporate travel agency, aviation background, and connec­tions in the travel industry, we are able to accommodate a variety of requests, very much like an interna­tional virtual concierge service.

RUSSELL FRIEND

Ambassador Limousine

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Q: What is your company's back­ground?

A: Ambassador Limousine was founded in 1987, just prior to the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Cal­gary. Currently, Ambassador Limou­sine operates 51 vehicles, has near­ly 100 staff members, and has its own garage and auto-body facili­ties. We specialize in the business travel, tour, and convention mar­kets. We have an excellent relation­ship with all of the DMCs, hoteliers, and business associations within the area.

Q: How do you find an international affiliate and make sure it is a pro­fessionally run company?

A: We are proud to be an affiliate with a very large U.S.-based organi­zation that also specializes in the corporate sector. We primarily use this affiliate for all of our work outside of Calgary, although we also have a few long standing relationships with other operators and have toured then facilities. These independent operators were obtained through referrals or wonderful events such as the LCT Show in Las Vegas.

Q: When you find an international affiliate you want to work with, how do you prove to them that you are a reputable company as well?

A: We are large enough and have enough integrity to let our reputation speak for itself. In addition to providing due diligence in the form of vehicle inventories, employee manuals, defensive-driving certifi­cates, vehicle maintenance sched­ules, and, of course, proof of insur­ance, we are pleased to provide contact numbers for some of our clients so the potential affiliate can speak with them. Of course, we have obtained each client's permission and, in fact, we can even use them in our RFPs.

Q: Once you've secured an inter­national affiliate, how do you suc­cessfully market and benefit from your alliance?

A: We will not secure a new affiliate unless a current customer re­quests service and our primary affil­iate is unable to provide it. We market our ability to provide ‘one-call’ service anywhere in the world.

Q: If you are an NLA member, how has membership helped your business?

A: Being a large and reputable operator in Calgary Ambassador Limousine has really benefited form being an NLA member. Having a new fleet also has been beneficial as many U.S. operators have seen our vehicles on our website as a result of our listing in the NLA Directory.

Q: To keep on business travel trends, many U.S. operators are members of the National Business Travel Association (NBTA). Are you a member of any travel industry organization? If so, how has membership benefited your company?

A: I’m currently serving my third term as president of the Canadian Business Travel Association (CBTA) and I was one of the founding partners in the NBTA’s Paragon Partnership. The CBTA recently entered into an Agreement of Cooperation with the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and we are committed to continue to promote educational and networking opportunities for buyers and suppliers of business travel services in Canada.

 

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