Operator Builds Trust Through Education, Involvement

Lexi Tucker
Posted on October 16, 2019
Carol Mondello, general manager of Ground Charters

Carol Mondello, general manager of Ground Charters

BEVERLY, Mass. — It can be tough being a broker in a world where many over promise and under deliver. Carol Mondello, general manager of Ground Charters, is aware of the distrust that often comes with the territory, but has gotten involved in the industry to help alleviate any fears. She believes the best way to win business is to be genuine and help others grow through education and networking.

A Part Of Something Bigger

She first stumbled upon the American Bus Association’s Women in Buses Council while looking up tradeshows she planned to attend in 2014. She was ecstatic to discover a group directed toward her demographic.

“These are my people; it felt great to find those I could talk about buses with while getting our nails done together,” she jokes.

A friend asked her to be the co-chair of the travel, tour, and charter committee, and she’s had fun building education programs to help her fellow operators in these fields. The Council has one in-person meeting a year at the ABA Marketplace where they have lunch together and listen to a speaker. This year, they learned about getting grants for projects.

“It’s interesting to see another angle even if it doesn’t apply to your business in particular. It’s nice to be in a room with 50 to 60 people who know what your day-to-day life is like and understand what a wild ride it is being in this industry,” she explains.

Each year, every committee plans two webinars to help educate fellow members. This year, Mondello planned one about National Park Service fees and regulations to help clear confusion plaguing the bus industry. An upcoming webinar will focus on email and social media marketing that will help companies boost their presence in the off season.

“It’s going to be about setting posts up so they are ready to roll for you in the busy season. It’ll be as simple as click and send.”

She says the group is amazing for networking, as you never know who you’re going to meet. “The woman next to you could work at a hotel you’ve been dying to do business with, or you had a contact there and now they’re gone so you get to know the new contact. We’re a big family at ABA and having a group of women you can go to, as well as men who are allies, is really indispensable.”

Living And Learning

Mondello fell into the industry by chance. She graduated in December 2009 with a tourism degree, and found a job posting for a reservations manager. With a young daughter, having a job close to home was important to her. Nearly 10 years later, she still works with the company.

Over the years, she’s learned trusting your gut will keep you out of trouble. “Understanding if a price looks too cheap, it probably will help you do better business. If you are shopping around and see most prices are in the same range, that’s good; but if you see something way off, it makes you think ‘what are they doing or not doing to make it that cheap?’ Price isn’t everything, and quality often comes at a higher cost.”

Anything can happen, so be prepared for the unexpected. “We once had a driver go under a bridge that was mislabeled and it broke every single glass panel going down the middle of the sunroof. The bus manufacturer only had a few in stock, so it was tough to get fixed. When you’ve got buses all over the place, you never know what will happen.”

One of the biggest challenges she faces when they happen are breakdowns. Any transportation provider fears leaving people stranded. “If you keep your wits about you and have strong connections with other operators, they’ll answer your calls in the middle of the night. That’s why it’s so important to reach out and say hello in a group — you never know who you could come to the aid of, or who could come to your aid,” she explains.

Another way she stays involved in the industry is by volunteering as a Star Delegate panelist at the ABA Show to help newcomers with tips and tricks for maximizing their marketplace experience. “People stop me on the show floor and say thanks. I love being able to pass on my wisdom.”

Her biggest accomplishment in life has been raising her daughter as a single mother but work wise she’s proud to say people trust her. “Being a broker is tough, so it means a lot when you’re recognized as someone trustworthy. Not all brokers are the same, and it’s a label I actively try to overcome. When I go out to places and meet clients, I reassure them I won’t burn them and back my words up with actions.”

Related Topics: American Bus Association, brokers, buses, customer service, motorcoach operators, motorcoaches, networking, women in the industry

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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