BOSTON/CHICAGO — Two industry “decaders” who started in chauffeured transportation in the early 1980s have some simple advice for American and Canadian operators weighing a visit to the annual LCT Eastern Conference: SHOW UP.
“In these uncertain economic times, information becomes power for people,” said Scott Solombrino, CEO of Dav El and co-chair of the NLA Education Committee, which devised the speaker/seminar agenda this year. “The more information you can gather from events like LCT East, the more you can adjust your business model to get through the complex period and to the other end.”
Among Solombrino’s top choices at LCT East: KEYNOTE SPEAKERS Jon Luther, Executive Chairman of the Board of Dunkin’ Brands, and Sam Dinkin, economist and futurist.
“The chairman of Dunkin’ Brands heads up one of the most famous retail brands that competes with Starbucks, and is a great indicator of economic cycles,” Solombrino said. “Jon Luther has a great background coming from the investment business and running a huge operation. He will give people a clear perspective on what you are seeing in the economy right now, and where things are headed.”
Dinkins, he said, will make sense of all the numbers on the economy and what to expect next. “Most companies still here have survived the worst,” Solombrino said. “Now it’s time for the next piece of getting back through the recovery.
“If you are not there, it sends a message that you have issues and maybe things are not going so well,” he added. “Better to be seen that not be seen.”
Committee co-chair George Jacobs, owner of Chicago-based Windy City Limousine, said that operators who don’t go to LCT East risk having their competitors “get all these secrets that could put you out of business.”
“You’ll get a leg up on people who don’t go,” Jacobs said. “The networking will be a smash hit. People will get a huge benefit out of this for years to come.”
“People will learn so many things at the show; so many tips from other operators,” he added.
Jacobs has managed to grow his company throughout the recession, adding $3 million to his revenue base in the last two months alone. Windy City most recently landed major transportation contracts with the Chicago Public Schools for motorcoach services, Takeda pharmaceutical company, the Chicago Fire soccer team, and the British-based insurer Willis which bought the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago. He adds that his bus business has ballooned while he’s “running out of stretch limos.”
“In this day and age, everyone needs more ways to sell, more opportunities,” Jacobs said. “You can’t have a niche and hope people come along and sell it. Sell to your own customers. They are you beset possible sources of new revenue.”
The LCT Eastern Conference will feature both bus displays and sessions geared toward snagging more business with all types of buses. “Buses give you a huge new opportunity to do a ton more work,” Jacobs said. “You can find out about buses now, and then by the time of the International LCT Show (Jan. 25-27, 2010), you will be buying them.”
Solombrino underscored the fact that this year’s LCT East sessions were designed and speakers chosen based on surveys of what issues operators want to hear about. Since buses are doing better than traditional chauffeured vehicles, “operators will come away with a lot more information on how to integrate bus into chauffeured operations,” Solombrino said.
LCT registration figures are tracking slightly ahead of last year’s two weeks before the conference. If the recent National Business Travel Association convention in San Diego is any indicator, LCT East should be a success, Solombrino predicted.
“The NBTA had its third largest show in history,” he said. “People still in business are realizing that education and opportunities to network are more valuable than ever. If NBTA is a barometer, LCT East will do very well as the industry has not seen and gathered since ILCT in January.”
Solombrino said LCT East and the competing Limousine Digest Show in Atlantic City, N.J. one month later are equal in terms of size, but that LCT East succeeds more with sophistication and stature. Each event is about a third the size of the chauffeured transportation industry’s mega-global event, the annual International LCT Show, held each year in Las Vegas, he said. “It makes sense to go to East because the quality is the same as in Vegas.”
“LCT East brings the same quality, programming that you’ll get from the National Limousine Association and plenty of accurate information on what’s going on,” Solombrino said. “If you want to hear what Suze Orman has to stay, then just turn on CNBC and watch her on Saturday nights. We have speakers specifically relevant to the chauffeured car sector. It’s all about quality. Quality far exceeds anything in the marketplace.”
Source: Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine