Operations

Bus Booking Platforms Widen Client Stream For Operators

Posted on July 18, 2018
The acquisition will create a simple booking experience similar to what travelers use for booking plane tickets, rental cars and other travel products, whether they’re booking a single party van or a fleet of 100 buses. (Photo: Prevost/Volvo; LCT file)
The acquisition will create a simple booking experience similar to what travelers use for booking plane tickets, rental cars and other travel products, whether they’re booking a single party van or a fleet of 100 buses. (Photo: Prevost/Volvo; LCT file)

CHICAGO, IL — BusBank, a group transportation booking platform for professional sports teams, music festivals, Fortune 500 companies, and event planners, has acquired Buster, a tech-driven startup that makes it easy to book group transportation online.

The deal brings together a pool of 1,200 chauffeured and bus operator partners with a total combined available fleet of thousands of vehicles in 135 metro areas across all 50 states.

BusBank, which allows travelers to book group transportation in three easy steps, will see its market share strengthened and accelerated by the addition of Buster's state-of-the-art booking and transportation management technology. The company will eventually combine both websites into one.

“Everyone from the admin who plans company trips to the association organizing a major convention knows the pain of booking group transportation,” said Buster CEO Harald Kruse in a press release. “This market is demanding more technology, and we’re bringing it to them.”

Travelers use BusBank to book a large group vehicle in three steps: input itinerary, select bus type, and reserve. (photo: BusBank)
Travelers use BusBank to book a large group vehicle in three steps: input itinerary, select bus type, and reserve. (photo: BusBank)
Supportive Role Of Lancer Insurance

Of interest to the chauffeured, bus, and motorcoach transportation industries is the fact the leading industry insurance provider, Lancer Insurance Company, has been an investment partner in BusBank for 17 years. Key members of the leadership team at Lancer are invested in BusBank including David Delaney, the CEO and President of Lancer Financial Group, the  holding company that owns Lancer Insurance.

The deal is a boon for both traditional chauffeured and motorcoach operations as well as more blended luxury transportation companies interested in gaining meetings and special events clients, said Randy O’Neil, senior vice president of Lancer, which is based in Long Beach, NY. Industrywide, the lines are blurring among the ground transportation sectors as an increasing number of once-limo-only operators are bringing their luxury expertise to all forms of coach service.

“Between BusBank’s experience on the operator side, and Buster’s on the travel meeting side, it should be a marriage that benefits operators who will have access to events they could not pursue because not geared up to chase that side of business,” O’Neil told LCT. “The goal is to join the two at the hip so they can accentuate their strengths and provide a venue for operators to get business that they couldn’t get on their own.”

Lancer Insurance developed its relationship with BusBank as a way of routing more business to the transportation companies it insures. O’Neil estimated about half of all BusBank business is being handled by Lancer policy holders, but BusBank is not exclusive to Lancer insurance clients.

Easing The Coach Booking Experience

The acquisition will create a simple booking experience similar to what travelers use for booking plane tickets, rental cars and other travel products, whether they’re booking a single party van or a fleet of 100 buses, according to the news release.

The group transportation industry is mostly a manual, phone-driven, and time-intensive process. BusBank and Buster are changing that by providing a simple, online platform for bus charter bookings.

Additionally, the group transportation market in North America is fragmented. There are more than 3,200 bus companies in the U.S. and Canada, yet 94% run 25 or fewer motorcoaches, according to a 2017 study by the American Bus Association.

“This is confusing and overwhelming for human resource teams, event planners and everyday people who need to make a simple booking for bus transportation,” said BusBank General Manager Brandon Dudley. “Our approach at solving this problem brings simplicity, reliability, and industry experience to group travel planning.”
 
BusBank and Buster say their travel and transportation experience sets them apart. Several BusBank and Buster leaders have experience with Priceline: Kruse was a director of account management at the company, and Jeffery Boyd, chairman of the board at Priceline, will be a future board member of BusBank and Buster.

About BusBank

Travelers use BusBank to book a large group vehicle in three steps: input itinerary, select bus type, and reserve. The scope of services range from simple one-day outings to large events such as trade shows, conventions, sporting events, and large-scale music festivals. Its users include academic institutions, corporate event planners, athletic organizations, government agencies, families, and tour operators. It has served every major league sports team, the last eight presidential campaigns (Democratic and Republican), and more than half of the Fortune 500 companies. The company is profitable and has over $200 million in revenue since founding. 

About Buster

Buster is the Internet’s most comprehensive group transportation service for event planners, corporate travel departments, and consumers. Buster works with a nationwide network of operator partners to offer coach buses, limousines, SUVs, Sprinter vans, luxury buses, and yellow school buses for trips of all lengths and for all itineraries. Buster’s vendor marketplace allows transportation providers to maintain pricing control. Vendors input their data, and Buster creates a market price based on all area vendors’ fees. Vendors receive emails that trips are available in the marketplace and can accept them according to their availability.

Sources: BusBank press release; Martin Romjue, LCT editor

Related Topics: business deals, business opportunities, charter and tour, Lancer Insurance, mergers & acquisitions, motorcoach operators, motorcoaches, online reservations, small-fleet operators

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