LCT Letter To Industry: Resist The NLA Monopoly Play

LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson issued the following letter to the luxury ground transportation industry's suppliers, vendors, and exhibitors on June 28:

Dear Suppliers and Vendors,

Our Independence Day “founder” Thomas Jefferson is often linked to this old adage, "In matters of style swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." With that in mind, I want to share with you some thoughts about the conflict the National Limousine Association has created with LCT Magazine.

On the eve of the International LCT Show in March in Las Vegas, the NLA, led by president Gary Buffo and then-board director Scott Solombrino, announced they were launching a trade show with Chauffeur Driven in Las Vegas during the same time frame as our longstanding event in Las Vegas.  The LCT Show is in its 35th year, so this wasn’t an accident. Mr. Solombrino confronted me on the show floor and said he intended to build their new event by pressuring vendors to boycott ours, starting with Grech Motors.

This week, they made good on their promise when they announced an exclusive partnership with Grech in the same release that claimed that they were doing all this in the interest of reducing the number of industry events (which they've increased, not us). That’s code-speak for a takeover, and we all know customers suffer in monopolies. By way of the NLA President's message today, shockingly they think such behavior is a POSITIVE for them, a VALUE to members.

Exclusives leave no choice and no competitive advantage — in fact, the opposite is true.  Exclusives box people out. They remove choice and ultimately this affects quality, pricing and ROI. Last I checked we are in the United States of America where we VALUE our CHOICES and freedoms. LCT events are a labor of love and no one does them better than the LCT team.

In our 35-year history, LCT has competed relying on a professional set of ethics. We abide by a fundamental principle of doing the right thing. We are guided by asking ourselves, “How do we SERVE our industry?” because we know the only way we all survive and profit is with integrity, honesty, and with diverse programs that educate and inspire. You must insist on protecting your business and keep your options always open.

Even during recessions and industry setbacks, we never resorted to the kinds of coercive behavior now on display with these NLA-CD tactics. What does this tell us about their intentions for the future? Their latest maneuver is a preview of their vision. Naked grabs at establishing an industry monopoly that advances the interests of select vendors is not what our industry should be about and certainly not the type of behavior I’ve ever seen out of a non-profit trade association. It’s not what LCT has ever been about either.

As many of you know, we worked as the management company for the NLA since 2001, helping it grow with generous donations of resources and funds. When the NLA parted ways, we graciously accepted their decision without maligning their reputation. Not one act of customer or market coercion was ever thought of or attempted. This boycott attempt, however, is the thanks we get for trying to take the high road. It’s a betrayal of OUR industry.

We are incredibly grateful to the coachbuilders, manufacturers, and vendors who have already indicated they do not intend to follow any short-sighted attempts to corner the market. Those suppliers want to reach the widest possible audience and that means sticking with LCT and Bobit Business Media, the team that has produced the largest industry event since 1984. Rest assured, LCT is strong, growing, and committed to the industry.

Our owner, Gemspring Capital, which was selected by former Bobit Business Media CEO and LCT show founder Ty Bobit, has provided the deep pockets and resources to the brand that will enable us to serve the industry even better. We are anxious to start rolling out our new initiatives in the coming weeks to expand the LCT client, reader and attendee base, including a broader education, training, and networking platform called the Global Ground Transportation Institute.

LCT remains devoted to our LCT East Show in Atlantic City, N.J, Nov. 3-5, and the one true and original international show in Las Vegas, Feb. 17-20, 2020. LCT has grown and endured as a product marketplace and B2B media outlet for decades, and we are staying put.

We are blown away with the outpouring of support we have received lately from our friends and colleagues in the industry and we look forward to serving you for years to come.

In the spirit of the Fourth, join with us in independence and reliance on time-tested rock solid principles. Remember, LCT serves more than 7,300 luxury operators and 1,500+ motorcoach operators and remains the most respected and trusted voice you have. It’s a big industry and we want to have an open tent for everyone where we can all be free to network and create commerce.
 
Yours truly,

Sara Eastwood-Richardson
LCT Publisher & Show Chair

Related Topics: 2019 LCT East, 2020 ILCT, Ed Grech, Gary Buffo, Grech Motors, ILCT exhibitors and space, industry leaders, industry vendors, LCT Events, LCT exhibitors, LCT Magazine, LCT Publisher, leadership, National Limousine Association, Sara Eastwood-Richardson, Scott Solombrino

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