All Eyes On In-Vehicle Satellite TV

Lexi Tucker
Posted on August 26, 2016

When it comes to lengthy chauffeured trips, passengers often pass the time in various ways. Some might read a book, work on a laptop, or even take a nap. But Tim O’Brien, owner of Preferred Car and Limousine in Pennsauken, N.J., knows nothing beats watching your favorite TV show in a luxurious vehicle.

Creating Customer Comfort

It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention. To O’Brien, meeting customer wants and desires is paramount, and sometimes that means trying something new. So when his number one client requested a four-hour ride to Long Island for his handicapped daughter eleven years ago, O’Brien started brainstorming ways to keep her occupied during the lengthy trip.

He knew the young lady liked to watch specific TV programs, so just installing a regular video player and screen wasn’t going to cut it. That’s when he decided to have satellite TV put into one of his vehicles. As time went on, he realized other clients might like to be able to have that option as well, and now has it set up in two of his Chrysler 300 Ls and three Chevrolet Suburbans.

Satisfaction At Any Cost

Although a wonderful idea, satellite TV isn’t necessarily cheap. The dish costs $4,500, the installation process will run you about $1,200 (because you have to have holes drilled into the roof of the vehicle), and each flip down screen is $500, O’Brien says. In addition, DirecTV, his particular provider, considers each vehicle a “room in the house,” which adds $19.99 a month to his normal TV bill.

So why doesn’t O’Brien charge extra for passengers to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show? Because it’s fantastic advertising for his business. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled into a 7-Eleven or Walmart and people come up to see what’s on the roof. If they are businessmen who go up to New York City quite a bit, I’ll hand them my card so they keep us in mind for their next trip.”

Multiple Benefits

The most popular channels among his clients vary by demographic. During football season (especially on Sundays), sports fans enjoy the NFL network and ESPN, while businessmen watch the Golf Channel or finance programming so they can keep up with how their stocks are doing. If O’Brien is transporting families, younger children are occupied with the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. If they happen to have teenagers on board, MTV and E! provide hours of Kardashian drama and intrigue.

Tim O’Brien, owner of Preferred Car and Limousine in Pennsauken, N.J.

Tim O’Brien, owner of Preferred Car and Limousine in Pennsauken, N.J.

“They think it’s excellent. Even if they don’t use it, they think it’s cool I pay the extra expense and it’s a good business move because it sets us apart,” O’Brien says. “It’s something you don’t really see much.”

Not only are his clients happy with the service, it also benefits his chauffeurs. If they are on a run that requires lots of down time waiting for clients, such as concerts or sporting events, they are able to hop in the back and watch TV to kill time.

If you’re thinking about including this amenity in your vehicles, O’Brien does have some advice: “When you find an installer, make sure they have experience with these units. Once they drill holes in the roof, there’s no going back. Also, you have to be aware it’s a great cost, and not everyone is going to use it. It may be a waste if all your company does is small airport runs. We do a great deal of trips to New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Newark airport, and it works for us because those are anywhere from two to four hour drives from our home base.”

Related Topics: customer service, eNews Exclusive, New Jersey operators, onboard amenities, Satellite TV, small-fleet operators, vehicle technology

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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