Sandy Miller sees a future in providing a level of chauffeured service that TNCs cannot.
Just as quickly as blue skies can blush gray with rain clouds, so can a beautiful young bride morph into a Bridezilla whose wrath discriminates not. Wedding clients require special care and attention to detail, especially with high levels of stress, anxiety and pressure brewing behind even the most serene scene.
Here are some ways limousine operators can deflect potential issues and put the wedding couple at ease:
The best way to deal with Bridezilla is to prevent her from ever coming out. Communication is key to ensuring great service, says Crispin Bottomley of Niagara Classic Transport in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. “At the time of booking, even if it’s months away, try to get as much information as possible,” he says. “This process can help you to learn who the decision maker for the wedding is.”
It’s important to know if the decision maker is the bride- or groom-to-be, because men and women behave differently when it comes to planning things. Eli Darland, CEO of Rare Form Limousine in Seattle, Wash., and a 2012 LCT Operator of the Year, has observed that women are more comfortable giving over control to his team while men have a more difficult time and “just want to know everything” and micromanage the event.
“It’s important that you stay calm and answer each question that they ask, and try not to get frustrated, even if they ask the same question twice or three times,” Darland says. When clients are finished with their questions, Darland will ask them if they have any more to let them know that, although they asked a lot of questions already, he’s willing to answer every last one until they don’t have any left.
“People want to know that they’re in control of their situation, and we’re going to help them get through it, regardless of how difficult it is for them to understand it,” Darland says.
Jim Powers, CEO of All Star Limousine in New York City, says operators need to be “very clear about what’s going to take place at the wedding” upon booking. “Nobody, but nobody, likes to be taken advantage of, so you have to be really clear on what you’re doing, and deliver on it,” Powers says. “That’s how you take the Bridezilla out of the picture.”
Canadian operator Dave Brodoway of Executive 4Star Limousines in Calgary, Alberta, agrees with Powers, adding, “Eliminating surprises nips a lot of problems in the bud.” Brodoway has a strong presence in the wedding market and has survived his share of Bridezilla encounters, including a bride who booked her limo a year in advance and called every week to inquire about the condition of the limo, and had friends and family visit the shop pretending to inspect the limo for their own weddings.
Operators who do a lot of wedding business should try to partner with wedding planners, as they can “take the emotion out of the transaction and handle reservations efficiently and accurately,” says Kharen Schindler, sales and operations manager at Absolutely Charleston, a limousine service in Charleston, S.C. whose fleet includes a wedding trolley, which is popular in the historic city.
Working hard on the front end to get the event organized and scheduled makes for a much less stressful wedding day, Schindler says. This includes routing locations, planning schedules and doing paperwork ahead of time.
It’s also important to have a backup plan for when things go wrong, Powers says.
Operators may encounter brides whose pre-wedding anxiety causes them to request last-minute changes in scheduling. Darland has experienced several situations where brides have requested to shift the reservation 15 minutes earlier, and end up having to rush at the end of the ceremony to fit within the time frame.
Darland deals with this by asking the bride’s motivation behind her decision to make a change. “You have to be really careful how you handle this, but asking for the motivation will allow you to decide what the best solution will be, because it might not be what the bride is asking for, and you can turn her to the right solution.”
Schindler and Powers agree that the success of the event depends on the team of chauffeurs in the field.
“A great chauffeur takes control and knows how to be professional, how to put people at ease, and if something goes wrong, knows how to make up for it,” Powers says.
Schindler says Absolutely Charleston offers an onsite transportation coordinator to manage drivers, vehicles and guests for each of the departures. “The onsite coordinator takes transportation worries completely off the planner or bride’s plate, freeing them up to focus on the wedding.”
Ensuring the highest quality service requires chauffeurs and other team members to remain calm under pressure.
“No matter what’s going on, you have to be the professional one and keep an even tone,” says Rich Rottier, CEO of Crown Point, Ind.-based Cedar Mills Limousine. “Chauffeurs have to be ambassadors for the company. How you and your team handle situations with customers is what will really set you apart. We’ve heard from new clients who have used other companies in the past that it always comes down to how the company reacted to a situation.”
Although a wedding tends to be a once-in-a-lifetime ceremony, there is still room for generating repeat business through it. Wedding clients and their guests may have other uses for chauffeured service, whether it’s for leisure travel or airport transfers, and a positive impact that resonates with them may reap future profits.
Santa Barbara, Calif. operator Tony Talia of SB Chauffeuring and Tours cements his brand during weddings by taking a group photo of the party and mailing it as a fridge magnet, along with a Thank You letter, after the event is done. Not only does the photo capture a special moment, it includes the company’s logo, contact information, and an offer for a discount on the next service.
“That’s the most common way we get return customers,” Talia says.
Good Limo Logistics Can Enhance Nuptial Bliss
Luxury vehicle service for weddings now involves much more than a simple limousine trip to and from the chapel. Wedding clients increasingly prefer complete front-to-end transportation service with multiple vehicles, not just for bride and groom, but for guests attending the reception, arriving at airports and/or moving about town. Aside from sparing guests hassles and headaches, such complete service also provides safe rides for guests, especially if alcohol is served at the wedding reception.
First Class Destination Solutions in San Juan, P.R. has developed expertise over the years in arranging wedding-related transfers and runs. Here is a sample of a typical wedding transportation plan:
Wedding Event Day 1
Group Arrival – Flight Delta Airlines #329 25-50 guests
Type of Service: Transfers
Airport Transfer Luis Munoz Marin to Hotel La Concha
Vehicle type: Mercedes Benz Sprinters and Minibus
1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Pickup at Hotel La Concha for Bacardi Rum Distillery Tour
Type of Service: Tours and Transfers
Vehicle Type: Mercedes Benz Sprinter
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Rehearsal at Catedral de San Juan
Wedding Event Day 2
Special Family Day
Pick-up at Hotel La Concha to Lunch at Dorado Ritz Carlton Reserve
Bride, groom and parents
Type of service: Open service/ 4 hours
Vehicle Type: SUV and Sedans
Bachelor and Bachelorette Party
1 bottle Grey Goose, 1 bottle Black Label Whiskey, 1 bottle Don Q rum. Mixers: orange juice, cranberry juice, Coke, Diet Coke, 7-Up
Mojitos prepared by VIP attendant.
5 bottles, featuring Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio
Soft Drinks Station
Coke, Diet Coke, 7-Up and bottled water
Wedding Event Day 3
Wedding Day Transfers
Pick-up at Hotel La Concha to Catedral San Juan..........75-100 guests
Type of Service: open service / 4 hours
Vehicle type: Minibus
Pick up Bride and Father at Hotel La Concha to Catedral San Juan
Vehicle type: Rolls-Royce Phantom, Lincoln Stretch Limousine
Ceremony at Catedral San Juan
Departure Catedral – reception at Casino de Puerto Rico
Transfers from Casino de Puerto Rico to Hotel La Concha
Type of service: Transfers
Vehicle type: Minibus, Rolls-Royce Phantom, Lincoln Stretch Limousine
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