Operations

Operators Score Super Bowl Transportation Touchdown

Lexi Tucker
Posted on February 21, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The only way to walk away successful from a huge event is by coming prepared in the first place. George Jacobs, owner of Windy City Limousine in Chicago, and Charlie Murray, co-owner of Total Transportation in Minneapolis, dish on the months of planning that went into providing seamless transportation for sponsors of the NFL and their guests, A-list celebs, and even normal, everyday clients.

From Budweiser and MillerCoors to AT&T and FedEx, Windy City dealt with 21 separate groups throughout the event. The company ran 70 SUVs, 10 Sprinters, 35 motorcoaches, and a smattering of minibuses. “It was the most fun we’ve ever had, and the biggest event we’ve ever pulled off that was 400 miles away from our home base,” Jacobs said.

George Jacobs, owner of Windy City Limousine
George Jacobs, owner of Windy City Limousine
Total Transportation used its entire fleet of vehicles from sedans to motorcoaches, Murray said. “We also rented 50 SUVs and 30 vans. We began planning in January of 2016, and our staff put in hundreds of hours into preparing for this event.”

Jacobs booked two full hotels almost a year ago and still had to have some chauffeurs room with each other. Overall, Windy walked away with about a million and a half dollars in sales by the end of the event.

Despite dealing with situations like not having a manifest for a dinner for 800 people at a casino until the week before it was to happen, the team at Windy carried out its duties without a hitch throughout the week of the Super Bowl. The company brought in 25 staff members for the event (excluding chauffeurs), some of whom were stationed in Minnesota for nine days, Jacobs said.

Charlie Murray, co-owner of Total Transportation
Charlie Murray, co-owner of Total Transportation
“We had Super Bowl meetings two times a week for the last three months,” Jacobs said. The team met with representatives of the NFL and the host committee ahead of time to find out what streets would be closed, and to obtain coveted parking passes. The host committee was very helpful in regularly sending information to help Windy successfully navigate the event. “It’s like trying to complete the world’s biggest jigsaw puzzle,” he said.

Total Transportation made sure they had maps of all the road closures in every vehicle and used Google Maps for traffic updates during the event, Murray said.

Naturally, an event this large cannot be worked without some help. Windy City called on local affiliates such as Premier Transportation Worldwide Chauffeur Services and Total Transportation, as well as companies all over the Midwest from places like Lexington, St. Louis, and Des

Moines.

“There was no jealousy among us. We planned together, and if one of us ran out of vehicles we were all happy to help out. They showed us everything we needed to know to do things legally.”

Windy purchased a table at the airport so chauffeurs would easily be able to greet their clients. The business sent a team of people three weeks before the event to learn the layout of the airport and city. “The representatives from the Minneapolis airport handled this as best as it could be handled; they were amazing,” Jacobs said.

He sent up two mechanics and an extra bus to prevent any unnecessary stand-by time. This came in handy when two of their affiliates had break downs. Other than that, they experienced no issues with vehicles or chauffeurs.

“The whole thing was like planning a strategy for a war,” he said. They had to account for getting their own people to and from the airport, hotels, and the venue, and keep track of DOT hours on top of everything. He made sure to bring extra chauffeurs to cover any drivers who ran out of hours they could legally work.

A select few of Total's vehicles that were used for game transportation.
A select few of Total's vehicles that were used for game transportation.
All of the preparation paid off, as Windy ran into very few hiccups. “We had as many as a normal event we’re used to working, and this was for 21 separate groups. The ones we had we fixed; for instance, we had a bus chauffeur run out of hours and replaced him with another. We also had a snafu at the airport where a customer had to wait for 15 minutes, but other than that, we worked to solve problems before they occurred.”

The same goes for Total Transportation, as it tried hard to manage the expectations of its clients. “They key is to not take on more business than you can handle,” Murray said.

Jacobs advises other operators who plan on working similar events to “prepare, prepare, prepare.” “You have to think about how you’ll pay chauffeurs to get there and back, how you’ll pay for hotels and per diems, what the traffic will be like, what the restrictions are, and the permitting process and being legal wherever you’re working,” he said.

He also urges operators to think about what your minimum hours/days will be and how you’ll change your pricing to remain profitable. “It’s OK for your prices to be a little higher because you’ll have costs you don’t normally have.”

Finally, you cannot leave your regular customers hanging. Jacobs had to make sure Windy had adequate support in Chicago, and while it ran tight, the company made it happen. “We got lucky in both places because we didn’t have horrible weather.”

Total Transportation Would Like To Thank

  • Their entire staff for all of their hard work over the last two years preparing for this great event.

Windy City Would Like To Thank

  • Jerold Bean, VP of sales: “He was up there the entire time and oversaw everything.”
  • Erin Digioia, director of groups and special events: “She worked nonstop and dealt with literally thousands of changes.”
  • Dave Lahr, director of operations: “He went two full days without sleep and was in charge of making it all happen.”
  • Ryan Peck, partner at The Transports Group: “He generated all the business for us and helped by holding the clients hands through everything.” 

Related Topics: airports, Chicago operators, George Jacobs, Minnesota operators, motorcoaches, special events, sporting events, Windy City Limousine, working with event planners

Lexi Tucker Associate Editor
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