"New Orleans is known for its festive parties. We are a party town," said Alan Fisher, president of London Livery Ltd, a limousine service agency in the city famous for Creole food, Mardi Gras and superb jazz, and soon to be home of the 1984 World's Fair. New Orleans is an appropriate site for the Fair, Fisher believes, "We are known for our graciousness for throwing elaborate parties."
For a limousine service, however, entertaining visiting dignitaries from around the globe, shuttling them to and from events and activities while circumnavigating heavy traffic is more work than a party.
London Livery Ltd. enjoys the distinction of being the official limousine agency for the Fair. "Having this contract is a very great piece of recognition for a young company. It's the first big bit of recognition we've got in our three and a half years in business," Fisher said recently.
"We're a young, aggressive company we've turned a lot of heads and a lot of people have started to notice us. We're not looking to them for our additional business. We're going out and soliciting our own business," Fisher said "Whatever we got from the World's Fair is gravy on top of what we've got."
With New Orleans becoming an increasingly popular city for tourists, Fisher sees steady growth for the industry as well as his share of that growth.
"We are a fast growing company in the city New Orleans is now coming of age and with this Fair, they are building 8000 to 9000 new first class hotel rooms.
"The residuals from the Fair and the benefits we will get by being well-known and the type of service we are going to provide to the community will keep us strong after the Fair," Fisher said.
The 1984 World's Fair, operating between May 12 and November 11, will be situated on the riverfront, with the Fair's Village extending from Canal Street to the Greater New Orleans Bridge
"We are the only company that will have onsite parking," Fisher said London Livery's clients will be afforded the VIP entrance to the Fair, allowing them to avoid standing in line to enter, he added.
"We will have an onsite dispatch office as well as our regular dispatch office," he said. This additional office will provide greater efficiency during the abnormally busy period, he said.
London Livery's fleet of automobiles currently stands at eight "We will increase our fleet fairly substantially,' Fisher said, putting the augmented fleet total at 25.
Post-Fair business should warrant the retention of some of the added automobiles, Fisher said. "We think we'll be keeping a large portion of what we add on."
London Livery's marketing program has been stepped up for that event. "We are working under contract with numerous hotels in the city. They have asked us to exclusively handle all their clients coming into the city. We've got different incentive houses and local travel agencies representing us we’ve got 15 of the largest travel agencies in Canada and 12 from Japan which has the largest pavilion (at the Fair),” he said.
"We know the routes, we know how to avoid the traffic. We're working closely with the director of transportation for the World's Fair. We will be able to take our VIPs away from the main routes, we can take them the back routes."
In addition, Fisher said, Coca-Cola and various oil companies have contracted with London Livery to handle their clients.
Fisher treats his limousine agency much the same as he does the restaurants he and his brother operate. "It's a very similar type of business Both are service industry. We serve 500 people every day and you have to please every person who comes in the door and give them a good meal, or they won't come back. They're not going to give you a second chance and call you up and say ‘I got a bad meal, I'm just not going to come back.’ This business is the same way.
"The people who can afford limousines, if they don't get the service, they're not going to take you back we get a good 90 percent repeat clientele."
One reason for this repeat clientele is London Livery s first class service, Fisher said. “We’ve got a training class for our chauffeurs. Our book covers everything from top to bottom.”
Fisher said the chauffeur's training classes meet three nights a week for two weeks. "They have a test on every class covering the previous material. They must make 85 percent or better average on every test in order to pass," he said.
“After they complete the written course, they have 20 hours behind the wheel instruction with myself or with my vice president of operations.”
Fisher said all chauffeurs are screened for alcohol, drug abuse or other problems. Many of London Livery's chauffeurs have backgrounds in higher education, Fisher said. "I've got guys with college degrees making good money because they're good chauffeurs. The average age of his chauffeurs is 28 with two and a half years of college, he said.
An event of the scope of the World's Fair requires additional security over normal operations, Fisher stated. "Right now we're negotiating the lease of an armored vehicle to be available to dignitaries of any country." Such VIPs will have to have their own chauffeur, he said. The reason being, is that his chauffeurs are not trained in protection. "I'm not going to try, in my company, to do something I don't know how to do. We do have a company under contract whose chauffeurs were at one time federal agents and a lot of them still are, part time.
"We will make use of, hopefully, a level three armored vehicle," he said. "A level three armored car will stop a 357 magnum at point blank and a bazooka.”
Fisher warns that short-term, carpet bagging style limousine operators who think they can cash in on World's Fair trade would be better off not considering it.
"We've had numerous meetings with the city and the city council," regarding outside operators from entering the city, explaining, "People who think they're going to come into the city for six months and make a killing will find tough ordinances keeping them out."
Illegal limousines will be impounded by the city and stiff penalties will be levied, Fisher said Fisher said he has lobbied for such ordinances since January.
There will be no increase in rates during the Fair, Fisher said. Whatever the rates are in January, they will be the same in May when the Fair opens, he said.