As corporations have been moving toward more efficient group travel, motorcoaches have been popping up in fleets and on company websites across the continent in order to meet the demand. To help operators who are new to the motorcoach business, LCT spoke with Diane Diebel of Hanover, Ontario’s Hanover Holiday Tours to learn how she selects coach operators for her tours.
“Choosing a motorcoach operator is not a quick decision,” Diebel said. “Word of mouth or previous experience with an operator is our first method. From there, we turn to fellow members of the industry associations we belong to. We base our decisions on certain criteria, the most important being the carrier safety rating. We would have a wish list of needs and see who best fits the requirements.”
Diebel said that Hanover Holiday Tours only considers operators who belong to either the American Bus Association or Ontario Motor Coach Association. Operators need to provide her with a comprehensive company profile so that she knows their fleet sizes, amenities, safety ratings, insurance eligibility and areas of operation.
She said that vehicle age and amenities are important but do not prevent her from selecting an operator. Certain basic amenities are a must, and these include:
- DVD player
- Overheard individual lighting
- Air conditioning
- Air ride suspension
- Video monitors
Amenities such as leather seating or individual headsets are not considered essential, but they certainly don’t hurt. Driver training standards are also key factor in her decision, Diebel said. “We require our coach operators to provide proof of valid insurance to ensure their coverage is adequate and in place.”
The most important thing Diane Diebel looks for in a motorcoach operator is an excellent safety rating.
Her priority as a tour operator is to find safe, friendly destinations that give her clients good value for their money. The transportation needs to be equally safe, friendly and of high value.
Tech-savvy operators also may have an advantage, since Diebel said that automation has “probably been the biggest contributor to efficiency and organization with our operation.” With the right tools, operators can make it easy for companies to choose them if they’re able to make doing business efficient and convenient.
“Beyond [all] that, I need to have a tour heading in their direction,” Diebel said. “If they know of special events or attractions in their area that inbound tourists may enjoy, and they point this out to me, I will know they really want my business.”
Look for more of the best advice from successful coach operators in the September/October issue of LCT Magazine.
— Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor