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transfer4me owner and founder Bettina Mannsbart in front of the Hofburg Imperial Castle in Vienna, the official home of the Austrian President.
Although transfer4me is based in Vienna, Austria, owner and founder Bettina Mannsbart stresses that the bulk of her business stretches across Europe. So while a chauffeured transportation company may be from a particular nation, its business outlook and approach must be decidedly European. Mannsbart discusses chauffeured transportation in Austria and the numerous countries her company serves that has kept transfer4me growing 25% annually.
What is unique about chauffeured services in Europe versus the U.S.?
The industry in Europe is much more complex, and it’s more about people. What makes the European limousine business unique is that business partners and clients are dealing with each other as friends and work together to fulfill the customers’ needs with honesty and without threatening each other with contracts or punishments. We talk more with the client and with the driver to find the perfect car/driver/client match for each trip.
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What are key challenges of services in Europe?
As Europe is a mix of so many different people, languages and habits as well as views of life, getting it done the way you want it for your client can be hard at times. It’s all about learning how to treat people of different mentalities, what the no-nos are, and why people of some countries need more [attention] to help them understand what is needed of them. Also, cars and laws can vary widely.
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What qualities do you look for in a U.S. affiliate?
We farm out around 50 Congress groups into the U.S. a year. And what I personally value in the affiliates I use is a good friendly relationship with flexibility and an open-minded attitude. I think that everyone you write about in this magazine understands the business well enough to perform a requested transfer well. I just expect a certain approach toward European clients, maybe with specific requirements not familiar in the U.S., but which make the European clients happy. It works the same the other way around.
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What specific rules or procedures do U.S. operators need to be aware of when affiliating with operators in Europe?
U.S. operators often assume that what they expect of their affiliates and vice-versa is completely clear and common sensical, but it’s not always. I would recommend an open conversation with every affiliate: What exactly do I need and expect and what have you got? That helps find the right match for what your clients need and gives you an idea of the specific characteristics of an affiliate. In some countries, the limousine business is a matter of honor and not of money. You may not get the service you want by offering your affiliate more money, but you might get it by touching their sense of honor. There are many more such examples.