MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — The LCT Fast40 group hosted a panel session May 19 that examined how the Millennial generation’s ways of buying and communicating will reorient chauffeured services to a real-time, more responsive service model.
Session panelists delved into the mindsets of Millennials, detailing their communication habits, buying behaviors, and how they trust social media for referrals and reviews. Each panelist explained different ways of running operations at their companies:
SMS Text Messaging
With Millennials recording an astounding number of texts each day (about 88), operators are making efforts to enable text communication between chauffeurs and clients. Rick Versace Jr., director of business development at A1A Limo, founded by his father Rick Versace Sr., in Boca Raton, Fla., in 1986, has reservation software set up so clients receive texts notifying them when chauffeurs arrive, providing their names and cell numbers.
moderator Tim Crowley, and panelists Raphael Sousa, Rick Versace Jr., Robert Xavier, and Ryan Hilberth
Website Traffic and Online Booking
Many operators are familiar with SEO (search engine optimization). Most have created websites with thorough descriptions of vehicles and services. Many have call to action forms, where clients fill out information to request quotes. But several operators are going with complete online booking portals so customers can book rides online.
Raphael Sousa, president and founder of SF Limo Express in San Francisco, has adopted the Book.limo booking system created by panelist Ryan Hilberth, CEO of Rental Limo in St. Petersburg, Fla., whose product allows operators to embed a user-friendly online booking tool onto their websites.
Sousa said he regularly confirms bookings through his website each day. Once he confirms the booking, it integrates into his Limo Anywhere software and becomes ready for dispatch.
On Twitter, typing in key phrases such as “looking for a limo” or “planning my wedding” can turn up people in your area who might be looking for the very service you offer.
Website traffic is a valuable metric for operators, but many are overlooking important details of their online traffic and missing patterns. An exception to this is panelist Robert Xavier, president and founder of Legend Limousine in New York City, who uses Google Analytics. Xavier is able to track exactly how each page of his website performs, and also see what key words people are typing in to Google to get to his website.
Attendee Douglas Schwartz relayed how his clients still prefer to call in for reservations, which prompted an exchange on what issues are more pressing for operators now, and what can be tackled in the future.
By analyzing these results, Xavier was able to foresee a rise in party bus and retail group transportation work, which prompted him to buy a 30-passenger limo bus that quickly became profitable.
Social Media and Analytics
As Xavier described the power of data analytics, the conversation moved to how operators can use social media to market to Millennials. Many operators do not run their social media campaigns, and outsource the work to other companies or employees. Operators should have a clear social media campaign, which includes regular postings to Facebook and Twitter, at the least.
is a social media analytics tool that can be used to track the effectiveness of social marketing campaigns. Although expensive to sign on as a member, it offers free analytical reports on the last two weeks of your brand’s social media page, highlighting which posts had the most engagement, reach, and more.
Posts should be made consistently, at least once a day. Curated content is most suitable for sharing on branded pages. Some great sources for content include following major hotels in your city, local restaurants, major airlines, and OEMs like Cadillac, Ford and Mercedes-Benz.
For original content posts, operators can turn to guides such as Gary Vaynerhuk’s book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook, and also a presentation from the 2014 International LCT Show, “How Limo Operators Can Best Leverage Social Media.”
The session ended with a round of question and answers, with operators asking about more details for online bookings and social media interaction. Many operators said they may not implement certain techniques yet, such as online booking, but say it has not affected their business in the short term.
Douglas Schwartz of Executive Limousine in Bellemore, N.Y., said he has an online booking tool featured prominently on his website, but clients prefer calling in. Others in the audience said they know they will have to change some aspects of their business operations in the future, but for now, they are more concerned with other challenges, such as finding capable chauffeurs.
Millennial Communication Trends*
• Millennials are one of the largest population segments in the U.S., totaling about 77 million, one-fourth of the population.
• U.S. Millennials touch their smartphones 45 times a day.
• 50% of younger Millennials and 47% of older Millennials trust retailer websites. (Compared to 33% of GenX and 36% of Boomers).
• Millennials in the U.S. wield about $1.3 trillion in annual buying power.
• Millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts (who happen to be strangers).
*Gathered from Nielsen.com, leadscon.com, and ryan-jenkins.com.