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While we may think of proms as the ultimate financial boost each year, the student event market is much broader than simply servicing proms and formals. In fact, the student market is a year-round gold mine of opportunities for the retail limousine niche. In addition to these school sanctioned rite of passage events, there are cotillions, quinceaneras, bar/bat mitzvahs, graduations, communions and, of course, birthdays. All offer opportunities for big money.
Is there more demand for 2013?
It depends on who you ask. Josh Roman, owner of Heaven on Wheels Limousine based in Dallas, believes there is rising demand each year. His 7-year old company operates 14 vehicles and grew to that level in its short 7-year history mostly by providing service to teens. “Every year in business has generated more business each prom season,” Roman says. However, Garfield Bowen, owner of PromGuide.com, says, “Sales will be about the same as 2012 but the demand will vary from city to city and mostly based on culture, a sentiment echoed by Frank Figueroa, President of Pinnacle Limousine Manufacturing. Sales for 2012 mostly have mirrored the sales of 2011, Figueroa says. He expects the sales of new units to be about the same for 2013.
To advertise or not
Whether you decide to advertise to students is based on the market you serve and the competition. At Heaven On Wheels, about 80% of business comes from online search engines, Roman says. He does no advertising geared toward students.
“There is no need to spend money when we rank in the top three search engine results for terms associated with limousines in the Dallas area,” he says. But if you are in a large metropolitan area and the competition is fierce, there are many ways to connect including yearbook advertising, student newspaper advertising and school sports team sponsorship.
Deena Papagni, owner of Touch of Class Limousine in Fresno, Calif., says she does not specifically market or advertise for proms. But Papagni does create packages such as tea parties and special theme birthday packages that allow her to begin developing new clientele at a young age. The veteran operator, in business for 24 years, has seen students grow up to become adult clients using her vehicles for personal use and corporate functions because of the brand loyalty created over the years. If you decide to market to students for prom, the best tool of our modern age is the Internet and no one does it better than PromGuide.com.
The company was founded in 1988 with a magazine. Today, that same magazine is delivered to more than one million students. A basic service provider membership with Prom Guide starts at $250. That includes presence in the print magazine and the important online exposure when a student uses its website to drop in an area code and get a referral. Prom Guide basically does your advertising for you in what Bowen refers to as a “gangster marketing plan,” where no stone is left unturned and every high school student in America is exposed to Prom Guide.