Luxury Coach & Transportation

August 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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2018 INTERNATIONAL LCT SHOW SESSION: OPERATIONS How To Ease The Harm Caused By Disasters A panel of operators learned all about handling operations during extreme natural events. By Lexi Tucker, LCT associate editor AS VEGAS, Nev. — Disasters are something you can only prepare for up to a point. It's especially difficult for a fleet business that does not stay in one place. On March 13 at the International LCT Show, modera- tor Gary Buffo of Pure Luxury Transportation in Petaluma, Calif. lead a discussion with panelists Matt Assolin of Nikko's Worldwide Chauffeured Services in Houston, Thomas Buck of Beau Wine Tours & Limousine Service in Sonoma, Calif., and Diane Forgy of Overland Chauffeured Services in Kansas City, Mo., on what operators can do to ensure they are ready for any acts of nature that might muck up business. e four operators were recently affected by situations out of their control. Assolin's business en- dured Hurricane Harvey that swamped the Houston area with 58 inches of rain. Buck, along with Buffo, had to deal with record- setting fires in Northern California wine country. And Forgy last year was inundated with two floods in Kansas City, Mo. Roberto Rodriguez of First Class Destination Solutions in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was supposed to call in for the session from his hurricane-ravaged island, but had difficulty trying to communicating with the group during the planning ses- sions because he's been on a generator. It underscored how intensely natural disasters can disrupt a business. Scary Situations Assolin emphasized the need for multiple locations. His com- pany has offices in Houston and Austin, so he was able to run the business out of the Austin office during the floods. "We had a second story in our Houston office," he said. "ere's no going upstairs with 48 inches of water on your bottom floor. So we transitioned a good portion of our staff to Austin to continue to maintain that business and our na- tional business. ey did really well." Fortunately, the com- pany did not lose any vehicles during this disaster because they saw it coming and moved them down the street. It also helped that much of their fleet was still in Austin from a big event they had done just a week before. "anks to a lot of luck, some skills, and some networking, we were able to get back up and running the following week in Hous- ton at a temporary office one of our clients had," Assolin said. Buck said he had plans for earthquakes and power outages, but never thought a fire storm would be threatening his office. "We basically took our buses and moved them across town to an area called e Barracks…I left the rest of my fleet in my garage. So I actually split my deck because I had no idea where this fire would go, and we had no way to get out of town at that point because we were locked in, because all the road- ways were closed." Forgy had to deal with flash flooding not once, but twice. She mentioned having generators is vital to survival in situa- tions like this. "e only thing they didn't keep going was our air-conditioning. It's not practical for most people to have a generator tied to an air-conditioning system," she explained. e office is in a flood zone, so she had flood insurance which made the recovery process a little less painful. "I knew when I bought the building two years prior that it was in a flood zone. We had done our research." She ended up losing six vehicles because she had no idea it would flood that bad. "Our dispatcher who took over for the dispatcher on duty made it through a police blockade and al- most got arrested. It reinforces how important it is to prepare your staff for these things that may happen at odd hours." Planning For The Worst While Hoping For The Best Pre-planning can include anything you'd do for disasters such as earthquakes, power outages, and heat waves. Buck said you should have backup generators and think about getting servers out of your office. 50 WWW.LCTMAG.COM LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION AUGUST 2018

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