Industry Research

International LCT Show Heralds Limo Industry Revival

Martin Romjue
Posted on February 21, 2014

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — If you had looked out across a limo trade show floor 30 years ago, you would have been able to see everyone else on the floor, or at least their heads protruding above a sea of stretch limousine roofs.

This week, the 100,000 square feet of trade floor space at the MGM Grand during the 30th anniversary 2014 International LCT Show (Feb. 16-18) looked more like a downtown skyline of black vehicles of all heights and sizes.

Stretch limousines, while still a core industry market, have been complemented by mini-buses, vans, Sprinters, and motorcoaches. Far from an expansive plateau of stretch limo roofs, the International LCT floor now consists of alleys, corners and villages created by the 84 vehicles strategically parked to maximize use of space.

The trade show floor demonstrated more than any other indicator the changing dynamics of chauffeured transportation: Bigger vehicles with a wider variety of brands, models, and custom options, especially in the growing minibus, Sprinter/van and motorcoach categories.

Coupled with a partial economic recovery, the chauffeured vehicle marketplace and growth in the limousine industry spurred attendance at this year’s show to about 3,000 people, the highest since 2008 and up 10% compared to the 2013 Show.

But numbers are not needed to tell the story; everywhere you looked, from the show floor, to the sessions, to the keynotes and general meetings, event to the food court at the MGM, you saw more attendees and more activity overall. Attendees seemed more relaxed and hopeful than in past years, and peppered conversations with a more optimistic outlook.

Vehicle Highlights
As usual, the International LCT Show always scores a list of “firsts” in the vehicle arena. This Show saw the debut of several models:

  • Chrysler Ram Promaster Van debut by Meridian Specialty Vehicles
  • 2015 Chevrolet Suburban SUV debut by Acton Fleet Sales/SoCal Penske Professional Vehicles
  • 2014 Chrysler 300 L sedan debut (extended 7 in.) by Acton Fleet Sales/SoCal Penske Professional Vehicles
  • Toyota Highlander cross-over vehicle debut to industry by Toyota Motor Sales Inc.
  • Prevost H3-45 motorcoach and Setra S417 motorcoach debuts to show floor
  • Ford Transit Connect new van version with seats brought by major Show sponsor Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles.
  • Formal reintroduction of Krystal and Federal bus brands under the new ownership of Allied Specialty Vehicles.
  • Grech Motors first-year anniversary with refined model line-up of sleek new buses and sponsorship of a special show floor lounge and 30th anniversary birthday party for the ILCT Show.
  • Lincoln MKS 70-in. sedan stretch limousine by American Limousine Sales.
  • Hyundai Equus premium luxury sedan return to show floor.

And that’s just for starters. All vehicle exhibitors had new and interesting additions and angles, to be covered more in detail in the April Post-Show issue of LCT Magazine.

State Of The Industry
The vehicles on the Show floor provided a visual backdrop to the key trends outlined by LCT Publisher and Show Chair Sara Eastwood-McLean in her annual State of the Industry presentation on Sunday.

“This is not a limo show, but a bus and sedan show,” Sara told the audience at the opening session. “This is not the tuxedo show from the days of old. Meetings are a hot growth area, and buses are in high demand.”

The Global Business Travel Association expects business travel spend to increase 7% in 2014, compared to an increase of only 1.6% from 2011 to 2013. A busy, robust travel years should bring about $125 billion in group travel spend in 2014.

In a second part to the SOI presentation, Limos.com executive Doug Anderson cited the real economic growth in the last five years that has helped boost the fortunes of chauffeured transportation and business travel: Housing, up 14%; 2.2 million jobs added; 129% rise in the stock market (since March 2009).

“This is becoming more of a corporate and business travel industry,” Anderson said. “There are more ground options than ever. Five years ago, it was limo or taxi. Now there are so many that this market is ripe for consolidating. Innovation out there is unparalleled.”

Anderson outlined ground shaking changes in the global travel industry, with more booking options and travel policy structures deviating from traditional forms, he said.

Business Awards
The LCT Awards Celebration on Monday, Feb. 17, once again recognized top achievers in the industry. During the celebration at the Hakkasan night club, LCT announced the following annual winners:

2014 LCT Association Award of Excellence

Greater California Livery Association
Los Angeles, CA
Mark Stewart (President), Rich Azzolino, Marc Sievers, Jack Nissim & Anne Daniells.

2014 LCT Green Operator Of The Year Award

Palm Beach Tours & Transportation
West Palm Beach, FL
John W. Critchett

2014 LCT Charter Bus Operator Of The Year Award

Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation
San Francisco, CA
Gary Bauer

2014 LCT Global Operator Of The Year Award

Penguin Cars
Sydney, Australia
Kris Korkian

2014 LCT Operator Of The Year Award
(1-10 Vehicles Category)

Regal Limousine Service
Benton, KY
Val J. Newton

2014 LCT Operator Of The Year Award
(11-30 Vehicles Category)

Fleet Transportation
Alexandria, VA
David & Stacey Glazier

2014 LCT Operator Of The Year Award
(31-50 Vehicles Category)

ETS International
Randolph, MA
John M. Greene

2014 LCT Operator Of The Year Award
(51+ Vehicles Category)

Boston Coach
Boston, MA
Russell Cooke & Bill Gemmell

What’s Next?
LCT Magazine and Bobit Business Media have just confirmed that the 2015 International LCT Show will be held March 16-18, 2015 (Mon. to Wed.) at the Venetian Palazzo Las Vegas. But first. . .

The 2014 LCT Leadership Summit — the only true elite executive retreat-style conference available to the chauffeured transportation industry — will be held May 18-20 at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla. LCT article here

The 2014 LCT-NLA Show East will be held Oct. 19-21 at Caesars Atlantic City and the Atlantic City Convention Center.

— Martin Romjue, LCT editor

Related Topics: Acton SoCal Penske Professional Vehicles, BostonCoach, Chrysler, Federal Coach, Ford Transit Van, Grech Motors, honors and awards, Hyundai Equus, ILCT 2014, industry events, Las Vegas, LCT Association Award of Excellence, limo tradeshows, Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles, Meridian Specialty Vehicles, Operator of the Year Awards, Prevost, RAM ProMaster, Setra, SUV, Toyota, Toyota Highlander

Martin Romjue Editor
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