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ABOUT PHOTO: Operator Steve Levin is using Google Docs to handle group transportation to meeting venues. His company routinely provides transportation to and from Southern California hotels, such as the South Coast Winery and Resort of Temecula, Calif., pictured here.
SUMMARY: The free spreadsheet and sorting features allow one Southern California operator to effectively deploy his fleet to handle group and meeting clients.
TEMECULA, Calif. — Operator Steve Levin is learning how the use of readily available technology can net new business at minimal cost.
Levin, owner of STERLING ROSE TRANSPORTATION, based in Temecula, Calif. and serving the major counties of Southern California, started experimenting with spreadsheet manifests on GOOGLE DOCS, and ended up impressing some travel manager clients who gave him more business.
GOOGLE DOCS enable Levin to sort the travel information of groups and convention clients by arrival, departure, times/days, hours, airport terminals, and then use that information to group people into different types of vehicles. What’s more, travel managers and Levin’s staff can simultaneously access and update manifests as needed, which of course, are accessible remotely via laptop computers and PDAs.
“Even before we had one pick up, the meeting planner was so comfortable with the technology and my handling of the manifest. . . that he said, ‘I’ve got the same event for the East Coast after the one on the West Coast, can you manage the manifest for me?’” said Levin, a 2008 LCT Operator Of The Year Award winner.
The first large group handled by STERLING ROSE TRANSPORTATION was a Heinz company sales meeting Sept. 27-30 in San Diego. Sterling Rose transported 75 attendees. “In San Diego, I was in the airport with my laptop doing this,” said Levin, who coordinated the transportation and helped with the chauffeuring.
“We had done smaller ones with Google Docs, but this was the first one of consequence,” Levin said. “It was the first opportunity I’ve had to close the deal with the use of technology.” Levin has lined up other events this quarter and plans to incorporate the feature into this web site.
Another added convenience is that manifest documents can be shared with other service providers before and during an event. “You can share the document with hotels, meeting planners, and concierges, so they know when people are enroute to hotels,” Levin said. “They can now see who will arrive, hour by hour. [Hotels] can spot heavy arrival times from a housekeeping and check-in standpoint.”
The Google Docs are works well in coordinating farm out events with affiliates, as Levin did with his affiliate in Charlotte, N.C. for a small national conference.
Use of Google Docs is also paying for Levin by helping him expand and cement his contacts in the meetings and events industry. Through his membership in Meeting Planners International, Levin has helped “teach” meeting planners, destination management companies, and hospitality providers about the applications of Google Docs, and how his company can help them run their events more efficiently.
“This is the kind of stuff that is very relevant,” Levin said. “Sooner or later people with find out about this stuff, and I want to be the ‘tech guy’ to help bring it to the masses.” Levin said Google Docs addressed a key challenge in handling transportation for small to medium size groups: “How could I use this technology in my business to create a more productive use of this process?”
— Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine
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