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PHILADELPHIA, Penn. — As the battle for votes rages on, one thing remains constant: The need for transportation to and from events where the Presidential nominees will claim to run for the glory of their respective parties. LCT reported on the preparations companies are making for the Republican National Convention, and the situation looks quite similar for the Democratic National Convention, which will be held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn., July 25-28.
Overprepared > Underprepared
“We have 50 chauffeurs available in Princeton, which is less than an hour from our Philadelphia branch,” Gallagher says. “In Mahwah, we have a few hundred chauffeurs. Depending on demand, we have resources we can reach to that are internal.”Much preparation goes into ensuring everything will be ready for the week. For larger companies, it’s all about coordination between branches. Raymond Gallagher, VP of sales and marketing for Flyte Tyme Worldwide Transportation in Mahwah, N.J., explains Philadelphia operations will not need a lot of affiliate help.
Mike Barreto, Philadelphia branch manager for Flyte Tyme
Mike Barreto, Philadelphia branch manager for Flyte Tyme, adds, “We are very fortunate we have a panic button if we need to use it. We have hundreds of chauffeurs available to us.” Chauffeurs are provided with a packet of information containing maps, info on best access to the area, and pick up and drop off locations for the convention.
The company also is working with the city to get permits for the vehicles that need access to the closed off perimeter of the Wells Fargo Center. They are collaborating with hotels to put together shuttles or have vehicles on location that could take guests and lobbyists back and forth to the DNC.
For companies using affiliates, they must do it the right way. Ron Robinson, operations manager of Sterling Limousine, says, “We have cleared it with the Philadelphia parking authority that we are allowed to use affiliates from outside our market to act upon our behalf. The demand is great already. We are probably seeing about 35% booking for our 10 to 12 hour minimums.”
Ron Robinson, operations manager of Sterling Limousine
However, much like those who are trying to ready their services for the RNC, lack of detailed perimeter information is a problem for this convention as well, Barreto says. “They can’t plan so far out in advance that it’s public knowledge, because then there’s potential for a security threat, especially when delegates are involved. We have to react to the information that is given to us at the time that it’s given to us.”
This being the case, planning for big conventions has to start many months in advance. “Our meeting and events division goes in six to 10 months ahead of time and maps out all of the potential routes and looks at all of the points of interest (the facility where the event will be taking place, different hotels, etc.),” says Jake Shepich, marketing director for Carey International. This includes mapping passenger loading and unloading areas, working with the city and various event venues, and researching potential construction projects scheduled at that time. “Everything really starts with route planning and understanding what is going to be happening in the city and the best ways in and out,” Shepich says.
Planning intensifies as the event approaches. “About two weeks before the event, we’ll assign specific chauffeurs to vehicles, start safety inspections, and make sure everything is up to par,” Shepich says. “Our quality assurance team will be on the ground making sure every van, bus, and mini-bus going out is pristine and meets all mechanical standards for safety.” The company doesn’t run any large vehicles more than five years old or sedans older than three.
When it comes to vetting chauffeurs, operators who claim to take duty of care seriously should take notes. Carey International checks its chauffers’ Motor Vehicle Reports every three months, runs criminal background checks every year, and also requires five-panel drug tests randomly once every year (at minimum) per chauffeur, Shepich says.