Operations

Operator Builds Cross Continental Clientele

Martin Romjue
Posted on September 10, 2012
transfer4me owner and founder Bettina Mannsbart in front of the Hofburg Imperial Castle in Vienna, the official home of the Austrian President.

transfer4me owner and founder Bettina Mannsbart in front of the Hofburg Imperial Castle in Vienna, the official home of the Austrian President.

transfer4me owner and founder Bettina Mannsbart in front of the Hofburg Imperial Castle in Vienna, the official home of the Austrian President.
transfer4me owner and founder Bettina Mannsbart in front of the Hofburg Imperial Castle in Vienna, the official home of the Austrian President.

Although transfer4me is based in Vienna, Austria, owner and founder Bettina Mannsbart stresses that the bulk of her business stretches across Europe. So while a chauffeured transportation company may be from a particular nation, its business outlook and approach must be decidedly European. Mannsbart discusses chauffeured transportation in Austria and the numerous countries her company serves that has kept transfer4me growing 25% annually.

What is unique about chauffeured services in Europe versus the U.S.?
The industry in Europe is much more complex, and it’s more about people. What makes the European limousine business unique is that business partners and clients are dealing with each other as friends and work together to fulfill the customers’ needs with honesty and without threatening each other with contracts or punishments. We talk more with the client and with the driver to find the perfect car/driver/client match for each trip.
• • •
What are key challenges of services in Europe?
As Europe is a mix of so many different people, languages and habits as well as views of life, getting it done the way you want it for your client can be hard at times. It’s all about learning how to treat people of different mentalities, what the no-nos are, and why people of some countries need more [attention] to help them understand what is needed of them. Also, cars and laws can vary widely.
• • •
What qualities do you look for in a U.S. affiliate?
We farm out around 50 Congress groups into the U.S. a year. And what I personally value in the affiliates I use is a good friendly relationship with flexibility and an open-minded attitude. I think that everyone you write about in this magazine understands the business well enough to perform a requested transfer well. I just expect a certain approach toward European clients, maybe with specific requirements not familiar in the U.S., but which make the European clients happy. It works the same the other way around.
• • •
What specific rules or procedures do U.S. operators need to be aware of when affiliating with operators in Europe?
U.S. operators often assume that what they expect of their affiliates and vice-versa is completely clear and common sensical, but it’s not always. I would recommend an open conversation with every affiliate: What exactly do I need and expect and what have you got? That helps find the right match for what your clients need and gives you an idea of the specific characteristics of an affiliate. In some countries, the limousine business is a matter of honor and not of money. You may not get the service you want by offering your affiliate more money, but you might get it by touching their sense of honor. There are many more such examples.

• • •

What are your primary business challenges?
Being from a small country that lives mainly from tourism, we learn very early how to read the minds of clients and fulfill their wishes accordingly. We have to be able to adapt to many types of clients so well that we know exactly what they expect and then get our partners to execute it the same way.
• • •
What are your top-rented chauffeured vehicles?
We have mostly Mercedes E- and S-Class sedans but also coaches for groups and the usual Mercedes Vianos and Vitos. But it all depends on the preferences of the clients. We adapt our fleet to requests.
• • •
What types of clients do you serve?
We work 60% for Congress organizers for whom we arrange transfers for about 100 Congresses a year (50 in Europe and 50 in the U.S.). About 30% are American operators who have found us because they learned how easy it is to get all the answers you need in Europe with just one call, and how much volume you can generate by selling European transfers. To be able to offer those transfers gives them more clout in pursuing big accounts.
• • •
What does your chauffeur training program involve?
As European employment and data protection laws forbid alcohol and drug tests on employees and cameras that watch drivers, you just rely on official driver training and your personal knowledge of human nature. It also helps to set a good example for your employees along with normal daily job training.
• • •
What are the future plans for your company?
We want to be the first company operators think of when farming out transfers to Europe. We strive to be cost-sensitive for affiliates, and we want to advise them when they are ready to increase their business by offering European transfers to their key accounts. They can create a huge volume and find an easy partner to work with.

FAST FACTS

Business name: transfer4me KG
Location: Vienna, Austria
Founded: 2007
Owner: Bettina Mannsbart
CFO: Alexander Kawan
Main service regions: Europe
Types of vehicles: corporate sedans, minivans, coaches, any special request vehicle
Fleet size: 3 company-owned; multiple affiliates
Total employees: 5
Annual revenues: N/A
Website: www.transfer4me.com
Email: [email protected]
Phone number: (calling from U.S.) 011 43 1 676 7936 196

Related Topics: affiliate networks, European operators, Global Operator, Global operators

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