Tim Rose brings his expertise to next year’s highly anticipated event.
I gravitate toward those takeaway points I find go against the grains of appearances and fads in the business world, or even bold predictions. I listen in between the lines for good advice that pushes back against the peer pressure of what everyone else is doing or thinks you should do. Below is my equivalent of a Show tote bag full of standout worthies. I can’t say for sure why certain info bits appeal to me, but then that’s why it’s called a grab bag:
Easy Going: Easing the chauffeured booking experience in every way was a strong theme at the State of the Industry presentation. While apps and technology make this possible, the concepts of easy and simple need an urgent revival in our age of complexity and distraction. Businesses can lead the way in what I call a de-cluttering movement. After simplifying the booking process, promote the inside of your luxury vehicles as simplicity safe zones, rolling cocoons from all outside hassles.
Profit Leads: Sedans and SUVs can be good vehicles for accessing C-suite clients amenable to using more profitable van, bus, and motorcoach services for their companies, according to a session called, “Are You Really Making Money?” Buses and vans are widening opportunities for operators, as the record number displayed on the show floor proved. Overall, they also bring in more revenue per mile, passenger, and hour.
One-Stop-Shop Pricing: Don’t negotiate away your pricing, said session leaders Shane Stickel and Dan Goff. Use the simplicity of all-in, upfront pricing. Segment your customers based on zip codes, or even sub-zip codes in dense urban areas, to see who’s using your service the most. Profile them to set rates and aim advertising accordingly. This is a time and mileage business. How are you billing?
Slow Down: Marketing your service often doesn’t pay off until one year later, Stickel said. Give it some time. In my view, this insight provides some realism in a social media world of instant results and an obsession with real time measuring on the Internet. The digital marketing world, for all of its advantages, robs us of the gifts of time and patience.
Mobile Alone: Market and promote to mobile devices. (I can’t say exactly who said this, but I heard it). We hear often how consumers and chauffeured clients are online all the time via smartphones and tablets. Our attention spans are splintered in a multi-media world. Contrary to this assessment, mobile devices can actually work against distraction. Look around; when someone is deeply engaged with a mobile device, that user focuses attention on it and shuts out other distractions. That’s because we naturally engage with items and devices very personal to us, and smartphones are like an adopted organ. A marketing message is more likely to get through in mobile-alone mode than in an environment where someone has a desktop, tablet, smartphone, a TV, and printed materials all within reach.
Care Chain: When employees feel you care, they’ll do anything for you, says MGM executive Mary Ann Sena-Edelen. Compensation and wages are not what mostly motivate workers. The only way your staff will deliver excellent service is if the owners and managers set the examples. While it’s best to hire people based on attitude, you also need to take care of your employees so they will take equal or better care of your customers.
Good Deals: During a meeting of the Greater California Livery Association, guest speakers Charles and Spencer Tenney, the father-son owners of The Tenney Group, offered some guidelines for any negotiation, not just those for buying and selling transportation companies: Be humble and kind. Show sympathy while negotiating, even if the other party doesn’t appear as educated or accurate, especially on price. If you show respect for the other party, you increase the chances of getting something done. Leave the door open; you don’t know how circumstances will change. Don’t alienate. Engage.
Care Guide: At the same meeting, GCLA President David Kinney reminded the audience of why this industry exists and its strongest selling point: “Everything we do reflects who we are. We do a better job than TNCs with duty of care. Our duty of care is our advantage. You have a big responsibility to take care of customers.”
Keep Driving: For all the hype and hoopla of driverless cars, author and keynote speaker Steven Hill cut to the nub of the human vs. machine issue. Who programs the algorithm to break the law out of necessity? What algorithm will decide whether a car should strike a 95-year-old woman or a three-year-old girl to avoid an accident? I’ve heard more rational predictions lately that driverless cars are a long way off, and maybe only applicable on long-distance, direct routes. No machine will ever supersede the human soul and its infinite, mysterious capacity for creativity, calculation, and moral judgments.
Tim Rose brings his expertise to next year’s highly anticipated event.
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