JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – Local limousine owners want people to think of their time in a limo as an experience, not just a ride. "The biggest thing you run across is trying to explain that the limo is not a taxi service," said Philip Morton, one of the owners of Starlight Limousine.
Most people instantly think weddings and funerals when they hear the word "limousine," but the three major limo services in Jacksonville do a whole lot more. "You can hire a limo for anything," said Leonard Kellum, the other owner of Starlight. "The limousine works great for any occasion."
Limos are popular at prom time and for high school graduations, but Brenda Kay, the owner of Excel Limousines, said her company also takes couples on quick jaunts to Raleigh to see rock concerts. More and more parents are booking limos for their daughters' birthday parties, especially the 13th and 16th. "With a limo, birthday parties become mobile," Kay said. "You are not just limited to one place; you can take a load of kids to eat, to play games and shopping."
And Kay said she is seeing a developing trend where mothers are spending time with their daughters by taking a limo shopping, going to the hair salon and getting a pedicure and manicure. Of course, limo drivers can act as designated drivers for adults out on the town, but limos can be just as fun for people who do not drink alcohol, Kay said.
What happens in limo, stays in the limo, said Henry Diaz, a driver with Excel Limousine. "My customers have a bunch of fun, that's all I can say," he said. Diaz said he treats every customer like royalty.
Larry Sweeny, owner of Limousines "R" Us, Inc., agrees that limos are "luxury transportation." He said his drivers "roll out the red carpet treatment."
"We want people to feel like they are in Hollywood for the day," he said. "We have champagne on ice and treat every rider like a celebrity." Sweeny said his drivers are also experts at turning an otherwise normal wedding into an unforgettable experience. "I live to make a bride happy or put a smile on the face of a prom date," he said.
And in the current economy, limo owners say their service makes for good financial sense. "We are hoping the gas crunch improves business once people realize it's cheaper to chip in for one limo than drive four or five cars to an event," she said.
Source: Jacksonville Daily News