Operations

What Hotels Look For In A Luxury Transportation Provider

Lexi Tucker
Posted on February 7, 2019
(L to R) Limo University Founder Bill Faeth and Dee Patel, general manager of The Hermitage Hotel, talked about what operators can do to properly pursue luxury hotel business. (Photo credit: Blake Russell)

(L to R) Limo University Founder Bill Faeth and Dee Patel, general manager of The Hermitage Hotel, talked about what operators can do to properly pursue luxury hotel business. (Photo credit: Blake Russell)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — During Limo University’s LAB Live event in April 2018, founder Bill Faeth interviewed Dee Patel, general manager of The Hermitage Hotel, to clear up what luxury hotel chains are looking for when they contract with a transportation company.

Consistency Is Key

When asked about the most important trait she looks for in a provider, Patel said it’s simple: Consistency of the basics.

“Often when we get new employees joining the team, most of them have worked at a five-star hotel. It takes a lot of time for us to invest in that associate, and we look for certain characteristics, such as personality and friendliness. Then we need to be able to teach the standard.”

She gave a few examples of what she expects from a luxury transportation company that she’d also expect from her employees. “They need to ‘beat the greet.’ Say hello to your guest before the guest says hello to you. Know the guest’s name. Make sure your vehicle is clean. Does it have a scent? I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve walked into a car that either had a strong cologne or perfume scent, or some other residual scent. With so many venues that have become non-smoking, I’m shocked at the number of cars that have a smoke smell in them.”

Knowledge of your product and the property you’re servicing is vital as well. Patel explained how much time it takes for a company to vet a vendor. Any business they choose becomes a true extension of the Hermitage brand, and that’s exactly how they view their relationships.

“The guests don’t know the difference between your company and ours, and they shouldn’t.”

Reach Out For Constructive Criticism

Faeth asked Patel what she’d recommend companies that don’t have contracts with hotels do to approach the hotel to make sure they can live up to its standards. “Well, that’s the key: That never happens,” she said. “We generally don’t have companies call and ask, ‘What can I do to be more service oriented?’ Or, ‘What can I do to learn or develop my skill set to be able to continue facilitating your guests?’ It’s usually, ‘How can I get your business?’ Just because you’re not the sole contracted company does not mean you should not build a relationship.”

She said it’s important to identify the decision maker of the company you are trying to win business from. Creating a bond of trust and proving you will pull through during tough times is what will help you win business.

“Things happen. People’s schedules change and our guests are discerning. They generally are not the ones making the transportation arrangements, so sometimes mistakes happen, whether it’s by their assistant or whether we’ve mishandled the request. Knowing you can be called and depended upon to pull us out of a rut will help build that relationship.”

Think Like A Good Chauffeur

Patel looks for consistency, professionalism, honesty, and respect in a potential vendor. It’s similar to what you look for in a chauffeur. It wouldn’t be wrong to say you’re searching for someone who can be an extension of the brand you’ve invested thousands of dollars in. You want that person to carry out your vision, and Patel says it’s the same for those the Hermitage brings on to their team.  

“Do you have the personality to deliver our standards in a genuine, sincere, and thoughtful way? Are you thoughtful enough to read my body language and know I don’t want to be bothered? Or are you thoughtful enough to know I might want a phone charger? Are you thoughtful enough to use my name appropriately and not overuse it so it’s not process oriented but you’re actually gracious and sincere? Because if you do that as a leader and as an owner, then it will bleed over into your staff, and that’s where you’re getting my attention.”

What Not To Do

Her biggest pet peeves are if a chauffeur does not wear a uniform, is not engaged, fails to use clients’ names, shows up late, and/or drives a dirty or smelly vehicle. But is there one factor that would absolutely ruin a relationship for her? “I would have to say arguing with a guest. If there’s anything, that’s it. Mistakes will happen; that’s inevitable. But you’ve got to own it. Because at the end of the day, while we are building this relationship, it still has to be professional. We’re still a business, and we’re expecting that in return.”

Read Up

If you’re looking to sell your service to people of Patel’s caliber, she recommends a few sources. Preferred Hotels Worldwide has a great umbrella of vendors they do contract work with. “I imagine they have a list of basic expectations, but they have a large library of preferred vendors they share to their preferred hoteliers. Preferred Hotels is a collection of luxury hotels, not just five-star or five-diamond, predominantly independent hotels classified to be upscale,” she said. Historic Hotels of America is another organization to look into.   

Luxury Hotel Stats

The global luxury hotel market is expected to reach $115.8 billion by 2025, making for a 4.3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during that period.

The business hotels segment is expected to dominate the market throughout the forecast period. A thriving business tourism sector and growing realization of the importance of rejuvenation and relaxation are driving this segment.

The holiday hotels segment was valued at a little over $21 billion in 2017; the airport hotels segment accounted for a revenue share of close to 8% the same year.

North America is expected to retain its position as a key revenue generator by 2025 owing to an increase in the number of rooms. Expansion of hotel properties in the U.S. by luxury hotel chains such as St. Regis, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC, Four Seasons Hotels Limited, and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will also contribute to the market’s growth.

The Asia Pacific region is projected to expand at a CAGR of over 5% during the forecast period.

Key players in the market include Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd.; Marriott International, Inc.; Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safari; AccorHotels; and InterContinental Hotels Group.

Source: Grand View Research

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Related Topics: Bill Faeth, customer service, hotels, LAB Live, luxury hotels, working with hotels

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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