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London operator Nadeem Ajaib recently changed his company’s name to reflect its broadening array of luxury related services and accesses.
LONDON — ICONA GLOBAL, formerly known as Pan American Chauffeurs, played a lead role in providing transportation during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. ICONA GLOBAL coordinated many runs while maintaining its high-end car and concierge services, says owner and CEO Nadeem Ajaib. His 25-vehice fleet chauffeured athletes among hotels, training camps, the Olympic village, and corporate events. ICONA also booked sports teams and handled VIP arrivals at all major airports in the U.K.
What is unique about chauffeured services in your nation compared to the U.S.?
The fleets of vehicles that we operate in England differ from those in the U.S. The top operators provide the Mercedes E-Class or BMW 5 Series as their standard sedans; the Mercedes S550, BMW 750Li and Audi A8 as luxury sedans; and Mercedes-Benz Vianos and VW Transporters as luxury vans.
What are key challenges of your service area/region?
Legislation is stringent and highly regulated. Licensing is expensive. Fuel prices are above $13 per gallon. Insurance costs have skyrocketed. The general cost of living and inflation are very high, which means wages reflect this. Clients are strictly controlling expenditures due to the recent economic crisis.
What qualities do you look for in a U.S. affiliate?
U.S. affiliates must mirror the high-standards of service we offer our clients. They must white-label for us, be reachable around the clock, and allow us to bill our clients. The vehicles should be new and of a high standard. The chauffeurs have to be professional, courteous and reliable. It may sound like I’m stating the obvious, but we have had some bad experiences and have been let down in the past. We also require the chauffeur name and number as far ahead of the ride as possible.
What rules or procedures do U.S. operators need to be aware of when affiliating with operators in your nation?
It is important to affiliate with a bonafide company. U.S. operators must ensure that the company is properly licensed and insured. Unfortunately, there are too many rogue traders operating without local authority licensing and insurance for the business, the vehicles or their chauffeurs. U.S. operators also need to be aware that the pricing structures vary greatly from the U.S. For example, most U.K. companies don’t do flat hourly rates for out-of-town runs. Fuel prices, huge vehicle depreciation and maintenance costs do not allow this. With currency differences and rising costs, prices are generally higher in Europe. Some European operators have poor reliability and unethical practices. It is better to go with someone you know who is trustworthy and been referred.