Maybe You’ll Be Here 10 Years Later

Martin Romjue
Posted on April 6, 2018
The second Open Table editors dinner March 12 during the International LCT Show (LCT photo)

The second Open Table editors dinner March 12 during the International LCT Show (LCT photo)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — While this is not our official post International LCT Show issue, I couldn’t resist making use of a delayed deadline and squeaking by with a few quick hits. There’s more to say in the May issue, but since the Show has been top of my mind for months, I’ll tap some memories while still fresh.

Our CEO, Ty Bobit, who bought LCT Magazine in 1983, cornered me in the Bobit Business Media lunchroom the day after the event and asked his annual newshound question: “What would be your big headline coming out of this show?” My mind always spins when asked as I try to think and answer fast. . .  not because I don’t have enough to say, but because I have so much to choose from. I rattled off one, and then thought of more afterward. My big takeaways:

1: We’re Stronger Than That: This industry has proven more resilient despite the dire forecasts about Uber overtaking everything. Ten years ago, the industry was slipping into recession, and the show that year felt like a last hurrah. This year, opportunity and optimism pervaded, thanks to the decade-long surge in all types of bus transportation and wider fleet vehicle choices. I heard from several sources the traditional charter and tour industry sees the luxury ground transportation industry as disruptive, just like we see Uber and TNCs. Competition works the way it’s supposed to when everyone has to up their game.

2: Technology Trumps TNCs: It’s become clearer by the year this industry needs to deploy all the latest technology while not worrying so much about Uber. In fact, the TNC had its worst year ever and now likely bears the seeds of its own demise: Staggering financial losses, executive upheavals, criminal drivers, wage and labor violations, and a shift toward well-deserved negative publicity. But the technology behind Uber will remain, and this industry can do the service safer and better. The big breakthrough we need is a plumbing system allowing all major softwares to interact while securing critical data for users. Imagine a real-time network where operators can pick and choose among several vetted affiliates or independent chauffeurs anywhere in the world. All legal, all luxury, all the time.

3: New Operators Enjoy First Show: As long as we can repeat that headline, this industry has a future. Amid all the veterans and mainstays, we saw plenty of younger operators, first-timers, and more international attendees hailing from 39 countries. That adds up to more diversity, which creates more energy and movement.

This Show also provided a valuable contrast for me. I marked a milestone last month; I attended my first International LCT Show on March 17-19, 2008 — at the Mandalay Bay, almost 10 years ago to the days of this one. That year the headline was: Big Recession Ahead: What Do We Do Now?

Having worked at LCT not even three months, I remember how much I did wrong during my first Show. . . not visiting the right exhibits, spending too much time in the LCT booth, losing control of my panel discussion, blowing through my per diem allowance, missing suite parties because I failed to get room numbers, staying out too late, and contracting a six-week respiratory virus.

One of the few things I did right was remembering I’m married, so I at least walked away from a bold young woman at the elevators offering to do something to me I can’t describe here but could whisper over a drink.

Thankfully, I caught on really quick to Vegas and trade show ways after those stumbles and blunders. Ten years later, I can swim through these events, going with the flow and enjoying the stride. Now I confidently seek out new faces while enjoying the reunions with industry friends. We’re even publishing daily newsletters onsite, unthinkable in past years. I never fail to come away inspired with too many story and content ideas to pursue, which is a nice problem to have. And this year I stayed on the 59th floor, my highest hotel perch ever.

So what’s my professional and personal headline after a decade? “Wow: 10 Years Really Zoom By.”

Related Topics: editor, ILCT 2018, industry events, industry trends, LCT editor, limo tradeshows, Martin Romjue

Martin Romjue Editor
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