Luxury Coach & Transportation

September 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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BUSES: SALES & MARKETING HOW TO Market For Group Transportation Contracts These six key client groups require a unique approach for gaining their trust and business. By Tom Holden, LCT contributing writer W hen growing from a corporate limousine service into a more varied bus fleet, you'll need to move from using similar marketing materials to ones that speak to specific markets. Two questions to guide your marketing to get more con- tracts are: What have you done to prove yourself? And who do you have in your portfolio? First, you need to demonstrate your ability to deliver the best service — much larger than a van full of salespeople, musicians, and decision makers. You'll be transporting com- petitive sports teams, stranded airline passengers, or loyal employees who now must ride a bus for a longer commute to work. ese moves could be daily for several years, or last through the highs and lows of a playing season. When a corporate headquarters expands or builds in an- other city, the long-term loyal employees are facing options that might involve moving their entire families. Or maybe those employees who don't want to move or are only a few years from retirement will face the reality of starting their day earlier to ride more than an hour to a new workplace. Is your staff prepared to deal with riders who don't even want to be there? Do you even have the correct vehicle to make this happen? Remember, your priority is to be a reliable people mover. It's not necessarily about high-end buses, but about profit. While high-end has a place in your inventory, you'll need to know your clients to match them with the right bus. For many clients groups, a bus with standard interiors consisting of basic designs and cloth seats will be fine, but having technology such as strong Wi-Fi and electrical out- lets are a must. is article describes how other companies have acquired the vehicles and the techniques for such service. Here is an overview of the service qualities and features you should be offering and what clients are likely looking for in distinct customer contract segments: NO. 1: Primary and Secondary Schools When marketing your business to schools, such as elemen- tary, middle, and high schools, remember they are very competitively priced. Most will require additional inspec- tions, sometimes costing thousands of dollars for a two-year inspection. Depending on your area, it may be more difficult than a regular FMCSA investigation, or even longer. is all depends on your fleet size; the cost may run up to $5,000. Some counties rely on their teachers or bus mechanics to do an onsite inspection the day of pick up. Marketing to these schools or educational tour/travel companies depends on creating a trusted relationship and assuring them on the quality of your fleet. Vehicle age can be a factor with schools; the further the trip, the more it leans toward a newer bus. While you don't have to buy new buses, it's always good to own ones close to new. Another important attribute: Your recovery plan and time. Schools and parents want to know you have plan "B" or "C" ready if a breakdown occurs. ey understand break- downs happen. Traditional motorcoach companies run their fleets up to 20 years. But you should never send an old bus on a school trip. Schools don't care much about the bus brand. As long as you stay in the top tier of well-established OEM bus brands, all of which are present at LCT trade shows, you'll be fine. One issue we've encountered is when a client needs two motorcoaches but can't fill the second one, such as when a group consists of 81 students and a chaperone. In most larger metro areas, there are not enough buses to meet the demand during several spring days. One solution is to use a 35-foot mo- torcoach — such as ones offered by Van Hool, MCI, and Temsa — which can enable you to save your 45-foot, 56 passenger coaches for another school client. In some states, regulators have approved Freightliner- based minibuses for school-related runs. ey are safer than smaller, lower to the ground cutaways. A Freightliner resembles many school buses and has a side impact zone higher off the ground. NO. 2: Colleges & Universities When marketing your business for universities, most of them will send out requests for proposals, or "RFPs." For their sports teams, it could be sent out for each season. Depending on the size of the university, it could also be awarded for the school year or multiple years. Sometimes they approve multiple companies on a list. At that point, each team coach can choose a provider. If this is the case, you will need to market to each team coach. All sports coaches have their specials ways of deciding. Several times I have found a female coach for the girl's teams prefer a female driver and the reverse for male coaches. Universities always want newer buses. Even the smaller teams, like basketball, will require a full-size coach. Most of them will not want a minibus. at's because for sports teams it's all about image. "You can't show up to the compe- tition in a smaller bus." Depending on the size of the university, it may want one bus wrapped. at would be the primary bus for all teams. For example, Windy City Limousine and Bus in Chicago wrapped a bus with logos and insignia for its client, Northwestern Uni- versity. Some of the larger universities will also make the bus available to all departments within the system. 16 WWW.LCTMAG.COM LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION SEPTEMBER 2018

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