A. Harrington Limousine Service of Edison, in business since 1923, is expanding its fleet and client services.
Embrace the holidays: Ten ways to make the most of the season
1. Market your products and services during the holidays – people are looking for gift ideas. 2. Check local newspapers, magazines and Web sites for holiday tour ideas. 3. Promote a general holiday theme, not one that could alienate other religions. 4. Start your holiday marketing campaign in October for a November launch. 5. Serve cookies and eggnog and play a DVD of a crackling fire on light tours. 6. Temporarily change your on-hold message and Web site to a holiday theme. 7. Place newspaper ads in the section offering movies and local activities. 8. Consider handwriting your holiday cards. 9 Follow corporate gift policies or risk jeopardizing relationships. 10. Promote holiday party shuttles with a “don’t drink and drive” message. What Can You Sell?
Promote holiday cheer and fill December’s calendar with special seasonal packages. As business travel slows with the holiday season, operators who normally focus on coat-and-tie clients are filling dates by promoting popular seasonal packages. And operators already built to serve leisure travelers find the holidays a natural part of their year-round marketing programs. A cross section of operators from around the country, interviewed by LCT, estimated that holiday work comprises up to 12% of their annual income. The holidays are by no means as busy as prom season, according to Gary Day, president of American Limousines in Baltimore. They can, however, “be a bonus instead of a slow period if you market properly,” he says. “I think the holidays are one of the best times to advertise because people are looking for ideas.” They are looking for creative ways to indulge themselves in a bit of holiday fanfare and show their appreciation to family, friends and business associates, he adds. Here are more than a score of holiday ideas that operators around the country will be promoting starting this month. Local holiday tours are worth promoting
Many potential clients have a difficult time coming up with fun and interesting holiday gifts and activities. Make it easier for them. Check with your local newspapers and magazines to find out what’s happening in the coming months. Visit web sites and make phone calls to find out how to get on email, fax blast and other mailing lists for receiving updated information. You can also contact your local tourism bureau. Visit the Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory at www.towd.com or go to www.officialtravelguide.com and click on “destination finder.” Educate current and potential clients on your findings and, while you’re at it, suggest they rent one of your limousines, sedans, vans or buses. Although Santa Clara, Calif., is not known for its white Christmases, Le Grande Affaire Limousine Service makes a big splash every holiday season to promote a popular nearby light tour. “Christmas in the Park in downtown San Jose is always big,” says Melanie Maloy, the company’s corporate account supervisor. “We send convoys of vehicles down there every year.” The company’s limousines will typically circle the park and then drop off customers so they can get a closer look at the spectacle. After a leisurely stroll, they’ll return to their limousine and continue a tour of city’s annual light show. The company puts together packages with two-hour minimums on weeknights for $240, including all fees and tips, for an eight-passenger stretch. On weekends, which often book up quickly, packages run at four-hour minimums and cost $435 for the same vehicle. Le Grande Affaire’s Tony Sousa, human resources manager, adds that the company also promotes by-the-hour packages that are available all year round but have a holiday spin – including Napa Valley Wine Tours, San Francisco Tours and Carmel by the Sea. On the opposite coast, Jim Moseley, president of James Limousine in Cherry Hill, N.J., puts together a host of holiday tours to nearby Philadelphia and New York, charging by the hour. His most popular trip takes clients to Rockefeller Center, where they can bask in the spectacle of the giant Christmas tree, ice skate or enjoy both. For Roger Somers at Arrow Limousine in Red Bank, N.J., the difference is in the specifics. Instead of just promoting a trip to Rockefeller Center, Somers promotes the night when the tree is first lit. He also promotes more general ice-skating and Christmas tree tours. In every city, there are plays, ballets and events – like the Nutcracker – that run only during the holidays. Use the information you gather from Web sites, tourism bureaus, chambers of commerce and periodicals to build a calendar of events. Shopping excursions: No fuss, no muss
While there are plenty of people who live to shop, few enjoy it during the holiday mayhem. Bring some of the holiday spirit back to shopping by offering special excursions to nearby cities, malls and shopping outlets. For these packages, service and convenience are key. Remind people they won’t have to worry about parking, traffic or carrying heavy packages across icy parking lots. Michele Rossi at Presidential Limousine in Denver takes shopping to the next level with drivers that specialize in making the experience enjoyable. “Be proactive, anticipate [customers’] needs,” Rossi advises. “We use certain chauffeurs who are just good at it, who love shopping themselves.” Presidential makes sure every shopping client has Presidential’s toll-free number or the chauffeur’s cell phone number, giving them quick and easy access to their driver while they are in the stores. However, chauffeurs are encouraged to establish a schedule, wait an appropriate amount of time and then find the client, gathering shopping bags and bringing them back to the vehicle. These shopping packages are generally priced on an hourly basis, as it’s not always easy to determine ahead of time how long shopping could take. Light tours are a big draw
A true staple of the season, holiday light tours make for excellent packages. The glittering lights and elaborate winter wonderland scenes are something many people take pleasure in. Yet few potential clients think to hire a limousine to enjoy the trip. The packages geared toward families or romantic couples and might include some holiday extras like hot chocolate, eggnog, cookies or a decorated limousine interior. Local newspapers often publish lists of neighborhoods with extensive decorations and many operators find themselves booking jobs into the first week of January. “Jacksonville is not much of a tour city,” says Sally Thompson, convention service director for Dana’s Classic Limousine Service in that Florida city. “But Christmas light tours always go over well.” Dana’s offers three- and four-hour packages, charging $50 to 75 per hour, depending on availability. For larger groups, the company offers minibus tours. For Phil Khalil, president of Action Limousines in Houston, his experienced drivers make light tours worth promoting. “The driver can often recommend other destinations, if they are in a conversation with the client or are offering a guided tour,” he says. Whether his chauffeurs’ recommendations extend the length of the light tour or additional work comes down the road from a job well done, the income is always welcome. Welcome home: Your limo is here
People often visit their friends and family this time of year, or they may have friends and family coming to town. Either way, a chauffeur-driven ride is often a great way to start a vacation. Remind current and potential clients that you provide professional, reliable transportation to and from your local airports. Get home safe after the party
Many corporations often show their appreciation to employees by hosting a holiday party. Whether it’s the lights, the gift giving or the anticipation of extra vacation days, people tend to become festive and some may get a little heavy-handed with the spiked eggnog. This creates an opportunity for operators to promote safety. With ever-present insurance liabilities, operators find many corporations interested in after-party shuttles. “We put together a five-hour package for corporate parties,” says Le Grande Affaire’s Maloy. The operator charges between $1,000 and $1,300 for the evening for a giant SUV limousine to sit and wait to shuttle people from the party directly to their homes. The company charges about two-thirds of that for a shuttle bus performing the same duties. For James Limousine’s Moseley, Christmas parties are a solid profit center and a great opportunity to show a lot of people the level of service his company can provide. Moseley often keeps a variety of vehicles, including sedans, limousines, vans and minibuses, at the party. This lets him move small and large groups more efficiently. James Limousine charges by the hour. “When you’re doing this type of work, it’s important to take people home and not back to some location where they will get in their car and drive,” says Moseley. “That would defeat the purpose.” After the mountain, it’s time for the limo
In many parts of the country, the holiday season coincides with the onset of ski season. Many operators put together packages that include lift tickets. Warm cider or tea in a heated, comfortable passenger compartment will probably seem like an attractive alternative to driving, particularly for those who may be nursing aches and pains on the ride home. Some operators even go well beyond what they traditionally call their standard service area, occasionally teaming up with bus companies to promote weekend tours to destinations hours away. There’s no romance unless there’s a limo
A light tour, a holiday show or any number of destinations can all be part of a romantic night on the town. Play a DVD or videotape of a crackling fire, serve warm eggnog, decorate your limousine and take the couple to an elegant restaurant. It may just be a new spin on an old theme, but it still makes an excellent gift for someone who’s not easy to shop for. Gift certificates show gift-givers care
Gift certificates can be promoted to corporate clients and the general public all year round, but the holidays are a time to make them a focal point of your marketing program. A limousine ride is the perfect surprise, especially for someone who is hard to shop for. It doesn’t hurt to remind shoppers that buying a gift certificate from you is significantly easier than battling long lines at the local mall. How to Sell It
There are many ways to shout it out and tell the world about your seasonal services Some operators wait quietly by the phone, confident that the holiday business they have built through the years will return. Others, however, are not so patient. More aggressive operators take the initiative to promote their services and use everything from direct mail postcards and newsletters to full-scale advertising blitzes. To get the best bang for your marketing dollar, start developing your campaign as early as October and be ready to go on the offensive in late November. Just remember: Although Christmas seems to dominate – with tree lightings and Santa making appearances everywhere – different cultures and religious groups celebrate different holidays this time of year. It usually makes sense to promote a general holiday message that is not exclusionary. Here are more than a score of ways to market your holiday services. Chauffeurs can help with your marketing
Your chauffeurs are constantly on the street, meeting people and seeing what’s new around town. They should serve as your front line, handing out whatever materials you decide best fit your budget. In a situation where there is natural interaction between client and chauffeur – such as a guided light tour – instruct your chauffeurs to recommend additional events. Arm them with a list of local activities. Sally Thompson, convention service director at Dana’s Classic Limousine Service in Jacksonville, Fla., has her chauffeurs hand out fliers with information about holiday limousine packages and upcoming events to clients. “This works best if the driver has a good understanding of the packages and can effectively communicate that information to the client,” says Thompson, who holds meetings to educate her chauffeurs. Fliers: Make them clear and bold
A flier should be designed to work like a sell sheet used by a salesperson meeting with potential clients. The message should be clear and to the point, with bold graphics that draw the eye. Either one or both sides can be used to convey your message. While some operators have the computer skills to design their own fliers and print them at the local copy store, many turn to professionals for help. Although doing it yourself is less expensive, a sloppily designed flier with typos may actually drive away business. Some marketing companies will design a piece for about $500, with printing extra. Single-sided, glossy fliers range in price from $700 for 500 pieces up to $1,050 for 5,000 pieces, including design and printing. Double-sided glossy fliers cost about 15% more. Thompson recommends tracking results with a coupon that must be presented or mentioned for a special deal. Newsletters can help spread the word
Many companies that send out a newsletter to their clients on a quarterly or bi-annual basis take the opportunity to create a special holiday issue. A newsletter is an excellent way to cover a lot of topics and sell your services during the holidays. Start off by wishing customers happy holidays through a president’s letter and then launch into the various packages you are promoting. An effective newsletter often offers recommendations, rather than “in-your-face” promotions. Also try including fun holiday-related information that loosely relates to ways your readers might use your services – like an events calendar or travel tips. Michel Rossi, president of Presidential Limousine in Denver promotes seasonal services on the back of her newsletter, where it is most likely to be seen once it has been folded and mailed. Last year’s issue used special holiday graphics throughout, but the company, which primarily serves corporate clients, also offered an airport update and focused on general subjects like safety, new technologies and new vehicles. Holiday cards are fundamental
The greeting card, the most fundamental of holiday marketing pieces, offers a warm message to clients. According to Arthur Messina of Create-a-Card in St. James, N.Y., cards with a limousine-themed message are fun and can serve the added purpose of reminding people what you do. “You get an extra boost if a company hangs up all their holiday cards, and they often do,” adds Messina. You might consider taking a moment to personally write a note, rather than stamping a card with a canned message. It shows you thought enough to take a few moments out of your day, even if you are basically scrawling the same message on hundreds of cards or an assistant is actually signing it. Each year, Roger Somers, president of Arrow Limousine in Red Bank, N.J., sends out a card with a new photo of his staff and family, all adorned in Santa hats. With several grandchildren, Somers’ cards have shown the kids growing up. “We are a family owned and operated business, and we consider our employees part of our family,” explains Somers. E-holiday cards are inexpensive
E-mail has become a quick and inexpensive way of sending out information, and a growing number of operators are using the medium to go far beyond a text-only message. In addition to using it distribute her company’s holiday newsletter, Rossi sends out an e-mail featuring moving graphics and music. “It saves us a significant amount of money on postage,” she says. “We take the money we save and spend it on actual gifts, which we send to our best clients.” Direct mail cards go out in November
Featuring a color photo on one side and room for a special message on the other, direct-mail postcards are not only inexpensive to produce, they are relatively inexpensive to mail. Professionally designed postcards cost as little as $350 for 1,000 (or $550 for 5,000), with postage that drops to 23 cents per piece. Postcards can be used instead of fold-over cards to wish clients a happy holidays. They can also be used to promote holiday-related services. Create-a-Card’s Messina recommends mailing them around Thanksgiving, which means the process of gathering materials should begin four to six weeks earlier. “One of our more popular cards has a message that wishes people happy holidays and reminds them to let the limousine company be their designated driver,” he notes. A variation on the direct mail postcard is the bonus card, featuring a perforated tear off section about the size of a business card. The attached portion is often used with holiday cards as a coupon. It can promote anything from money off a future service or a special on a holiday transportation package to a free return trip from the airport. Calendar cards are around all year
Calendars make a great gift because they are used all year round. They also work well as a marketing tool when you clearly display your company name, phone number and Web site address. Rossi has sent out a number of different calendars, but the best response came from the least expensive one. “We sent out full-size calendars one year, but we got the feeling they were being tossed in the trash by our corporate clients,” she says, noting that these cost between $1.50 and $2 each. “A couple years ago, we started sending out ‘year at a glance’ calendars. People now ask us in December when their new calendar is coming out.” Rossi or one of her employees hand delivers the small calendars, which cost 30 cents a piece and can be affixed to a client’s computer monitor or keyboard. Don’t forget your on-hold messages
Many operators use their on-hold messages to promote new services, special vehicles and other features. November is the perfect time to change your message, offering holiday wishes and promoting your seasonal packages. A series of bite-sized messages run in succession, separated by soft rock, jazz or classical music, are a safe bet. Keep each message short so the listener can get the entire message in a short span of time. A good rule of thumb is 40 to 50 words per message. In addition to a couple of general messages, try something like: “Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Consider a holiday lights tour.” Another section might remind callers that you offer gift certificates. It’s also a good idea to mention your Web site, no matter what time of year it is. It’s a real bonus if you can get callers to visit your site while on hold. It may help clarify what they want, resulting in a shorter call. Or they may learn something they didn’t know about your company that results in an additional sale. Web site updates are inexpensive
Adding a special holiday message to your Web site, either with quick links to specific information about holiday packages or pop-ups, is another creative and inexpensive way of embracing the season. Just remember to remove the holiday-related material after the holidays are over. Decorate your limos inside and out
From holiday cookies, eggnog and candy canes, to lights and promotional signs, some operators show their holiday spirit in and on their limousines. Le Grande Affaire in Santa Clara, Calif., decorates its stretch Hummer inside and out with multicolored flashing light strands and garlands for a Christmas parade in nearby San Jose. Like a rolling advertisement, the massive vehicle draws attention to the company each year. According to Phil Restivo, the company’s president, he paid close to $20,000 last year to be in the San Jose holiday parade. Newspaper, magazine ads reach a wide audience
Placing an ad in a local newspaper can be an effective way of promoting your services to a wide audience. The amount of space you can afford will be a factor in how narrow or broad the ad’s focus will be. If it’s a 4x4 inch ad, you have enough space for a one-sentence message, your company’s contact information, and possibly a small graphic or logo. You should be able to include additional information and graphics in a larger ad. The key is to not dilute your message by crowding the ad with too much information. Thompson at Dana’s Classic Limousine places a small ad in newspapers that are distributed in neighborhoods where there are traditionally dazzling light displays. She recommends having the ad placed in the section offering movies, special activities and other things to do around town. Cost varies, often depending on the ad’s size and placement. But, she says, she rarely spends more than $350 for a single ad. Gary Day, president of American Limousines in Baltimore, also advertises in local newspapers during the holidays. While he considers most mainstream newspapers too expensive, he’ll try a number of publications in November. He says he generally pays about $200 for a small ad about the size of a business card. In past years, he has promoted gift certificates in the ads. This year, he is considering promoting a $500 package that includes a ride in a helicopter for a special “high flying” light tour. Day also places ads in the holiday guides published by local newspapers. At Feliciano Limousine Service in Rochester, N.H., General Manager Don Libby has been placing a full-page insert into five chamber of commerce newsletters published from September through December. He has been promoting shuttles for corporate holiday parties with these inserts for almost eight years and pays between $100 and $200 per insert. Now hear this: Do radio spots work?
Although radio has generally not been a popular medium for operators marketing their services, the holiday season is a time when more take the plunge. Thompson supports her newspaper ads with radio ads that offer a brief but effective message, “Don’t drink and drive… arrive alive.” “We advertise during drive time, with either soft rock or easy listening stations,” she explains. Dana’s not only gets a better response advertising on these stations, the spots tend to be less expensive than on the larger top 40, dance music or hard rock stations. Her target market is listeners age 30 to 50. To offset costs, Thompson has traded limousine service for airtime. “It’s all negotiable, depending on how well you negotiate and how much they want your business,” she notes. “If they are holding an event and want a limousine for it, you can push harder. If they come to you and they want something, you can trade at a higher price.” Another operator was more negative about radio ads. Day taken out ads in that medium as well, but stopped due to a lack of return on his investment. “We did almost 3,000 commercials over the course of one year and never seemed to get phone calls from them,” he says. Cable TV ads are option for some
Another medium that hasn’t historically been used by limousine companies is television. Although it can get pretty expensive, it has worked for certain companies with the right message during the holidays. While a 60-second spot on ABC is probably outside even the largest operator’s budget, there are cable stations that sell advertising to specific viewing areas for relatively affordable rates, according to Libby. These spots often cost only a few hundred dollars, he adds. Restivo from Le Grande Affaire spends about $25,000 on television advertising during November and December. “We just want to keep our name out there and offer specials and promotions to keep work coming through the door,” he says. Seasonal Thank You Ideas
Figuring out how to show your appreciation to those who keep you in business during the year is a complicated issue. How much should you spend on gifts? How do you select something that won’t end up in the trash? Who gets a gift at corporations, where your company interacts with dozens of secretaries, travel managers and travelers? “You may have 20 secretaries, seven travel managers, and 57 travelers at a particular company,” notes Gary Day, president of American Limousines in Baltimore. “People talk, and if you miss anyone, they’ll know. For companies like that, we’ll generally just buy a box of pastries and have someone personally take it down to the office. If we want to go further than that, we may offer a secretary who calls us all the time 50% off a ride if she’s traveling over the holidays.” Develop a formula: How much to spend?
Operators use a variety of criteria for determining how much to spend on clients, including volume of work and loyalty. Michele Rossi, president of Denver’s Presidential Limousine, looks at volume of work and whether there have been any service problems during the year. She says she takes the opportunity the holidays offer to thank those who deserve it and apologize to those who deserve it. “We keep incident reports,” explains Rossi. “Even if the problem wasn’t a big one, it’s taken into consideration.” Don Libby, general manager of Feliciano Limousine Service in Rochester, N.H., meanwhile takes loyalty into account. “We have clients that used to do $10,000 with us and now they are only doing $2,000,” he says. “But maybe they have been using us for 10 years and we know we’re the only service they call. That’s important. We know that when the business comes back, we’ll be the ones doing the work.” Develop a formula: Who gets gifts
In addition to clients, Sally Thompson, convention service director for Jacksonville, Fla.-based Dana’s Classic Limousine, makes sure she remembers the funeral directors who send her work, as well as the people manning the ground transportation booth at the airport. She also sends a special package to the company that does her oil changes. “It goes a long way in making sure we get priority service,” says Thompson, whose total budget is less than $500. Phil Restivo, president of Le Grande Affaire Limousine in Santa Clara, Calif., says he spends between 10% and 12% of his company’s annual income on gifts and donations to homeless shelters, needy children and turkey drives. Remember to include for your employees when setting a gift-giving budget. They are, after all, your most important asset. If you don’t remember your employees during the holidays, they’ll never let you forget it. “I like to give our chauffeurs a gift that their wives can enjoy,” says James Moseley of James Limousine in Cherry Hill, N.J. “After all, those early morning calls often wake them up, too.” Moseley gives his employees the same gift – dinner and a limousine ride – that he gives his best clients. Rossi often does the same, focusing on creativity over cost.
Think big, shop small
Creativity goes a long way and can help make a less-expensive gift seem far more valuable to the recipient. That’s why it helps to develop relationships with local specialty shops. Whether they sell gourmet food, alcohol or picture frames, you have a better chance of getting quality advice and one-on-one time with the owner or manager. They also are often easier to negotiate with if you are buying in bulk. Rossi has been able to save money on gifts by teaming up with a local liquor store that specializes in high-quality, low-cost specialty wines. “The wines are unique and very good, but not necessarily expensive because they come from small vineyards,” explains Rossi, who spends between $10 and $20 per bottle. “We’ve had clients who enjoyed the wine so much they called us back to ask where they could get more.” The wines she chose were generally not widely available, and the interaction after the fact has served to solidify relationships with important clients. It’s also important to know your client, Rossi adds. Don’t give wine to someone that you know is a teetotaler, for instance. When to buy, how to shop
As anyone who has done last-minute shopping knows, options and pricing diminish as you draw closer to Dec. 25. The availability of bulk purchases and personalized items can also be affected. You could pay rush charges if you wait too long to order and send out a gift basket or promotional coffee mug, mouse pad or tree ornament with your company information on it. Give yourself at least six weeks lead time, which means you should be making purchasing decisions in late October for an early December mailing. Remember that the glut of mail and packages slows the system near the end of December and the impact of your gift is less than positive if it arrives in early January. Do your homework throughout the year
To avoid a gift-giving binge that spirals out of control, Rossi does a little intelligence work during the year. Everyone from reservationists and chauffeurs to Rossi herself is constantly adding information to the company’s database, which is loaded with clients’ likes, dislikes and hobbies. “Our chauffeurs will report back to us, ‘this client is a golf fanatic,’ or ‘he would have preferred red wine in the limousine,’” she says. “It’s all very helpful for giving gifts.” To help build up her database, Rossi looks at how her clients decorate their offices when she visits them. You can find out a lot about people from what is hanging on their walls or what they have on their desk, she notes. In one instance, she noticed that a client was a dog lover: “I personally baked doggie biscuits for him last year,” says Rossi. “It certainly wasn’t an expensive gift, but it sure went over well. Every time he gave that pooch one of those doggie biscuits, you know he thought about us.” A Handful of Gift Options
For those who have a difficult time shopping, here is short list of holiday gift ideas with a wide range of prices: * Gift Baskets: Perhaps the most widely purchased holiday gift, they can cost from $10 to hundreds of dollars. At Dana’s, Sally Thompson spends between $10 and $35, depending on how much the client spends in a year. She chooses a variety of baskets for her clients that feature everything from an assortment of cookies and candy to fruit to wine and cheese. Each basket is personally delivered by a uniformed chauffeur, adding a touch of elegance to the presentation. Michelle Rossi of Presidential Limousine likes to personalize her gift baskets with items that can be used after the coffee, peanuts and crackers are gone. “One year, we included champagne glasses that said Presidential Limousine on them,” notes Rossi. * Promotional Items: Many operators blend marketing with gift giving, sending out promotional items branded with their company’s name, Web site address and phone number. This might include travel mugs, pens, clocks, picture frames and leather-bound day-timers. Again, the price can vary dramatically – in this case, starting at less than $1 an item and going just about as high as you want to go. For a fun, creative, relatively low-budget gift, you might consider a personalized coffee mug filled with candy or movie passes, wrapped with clear cellophane and a colored ribbon. John Hartley, president of Gold Coast Tours in Brea, Calif., has spent up to $100 per piece of embroidered luggage for his best clients. For clients who spend less, he has given out nail care sets and a variety of travel-related items. * Pre-Paid Calling Cards: Although most business travelers carry cell phones these days, there are times when they either don’t have them on hand or can’t get service. Calling cards, which cost $10 to $20, fit easily into a holiday card and can be personalized so your company name is heard in the phone greeting every time the client dials the card’s toll-free number. * Gift Certificates: If you are going to give a certificate for limousine service as a gift, James Moseley of New Jersey’s James Limousine, recommends tying it into a nice dinner. Each year, he arranges for a “dinner for two” at a good local restaurant for his best clients. The gift certificates show no dollar amount and include cocktails and tip. Clients can order anything they want off the menu. He increases or decreases the value of the gift by offering or excluding limousine service. “When I buy someone dinner, I don’t want them to have to reach into their pocket for the tip or anything else,” he explains. “Only a small group gets this gift, but we like to do it the right way for them.” Corporations Impose Restrictions on Receiving Gifts
Operators should keep in mind that most large and mid-sized corporations have restrictions on the value of gifts that employees can receive from a vendor. This is particularly true for those who work under the restrictions imposed on government contractors. Corporations for years have prohibited employees from accepting any gifts valued at $25 or more, notes Doug Fioresi, vice president/western region for Management Alternatives, a corporate travel consulting firm. “These days, with integrity issues the way they are, certain corporations have dropped that to $10.” Many companies send out a document to their vendors, including limousine operators, laying out a variety of dos and don’ts. Prohibitions on accepting gifts, however, can easily be buried among pages of other policies. Still other corporations may neglect to tell you what their policy is, according to one travel manager who routinely sends back any gift back that exceeds $25 in value with a brief but polite note. Operators can avoid questions or problems that could lead to violations in corporate policies by first asking their corporate contacts, Fioresi says. “Sending a $50 gift basket could put that person in jeopardy, which puts your relationship with them in jeopardy,” he says. Fioresi says he recently helped negotiate an agreement between a corporation and a travel agency prohibiting any gifts or gratuities. Corporate gift-giving restrictions are usually in place throughout the year, not just during the holidays. Neil Weiss, associate publisher/Eastern Region of LCT Magazine, is co-owner of Innovative Marketing Concepts (www.limomarketing.com), a marketing, design and public relations firm serving the ground transportation industry. Contact him at (856) 797-5814 or [email protected]
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