Luxury Coach & Transportation

March 2019

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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S tarbucks, McDonald's, Barnes & Noble…it's getting harder to find a place where Wi-Fi isn't available. How are operators of motorcoaches and minibuses keeping up with the trend? Always Have A Back Up Jami Crouch , director of operations for Gold Shield Transportation in Indianapo- lis, Ind. says the company has had Wi-Fi available on its buses for three years. ey don't charge for it, but use it as a luxury perk. "You have to make sure your clients under- stand if there's no cell service in the area where they plan to travel, there prob- ably won't be reliable Wi-Fi service," she says. Regardless of what network you are on, your provider likely does not cover certain places. "We can guaran- tee a clean, late model vehicle and a professionally trained chauffeur, but we don't want to risk our reputation on something not in our direct control." Joey Mills , general manager for Gold Shield's Lexington, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio, operations, says they now use Verizon, but started with a different company. Coverage will be spotty sometimes, so shop around until you find what provider works best in the areas where you travel the most. e company decided two years ago to purchase a Samsung tablet for each of its smaller vehicles to act as Wi-Fi hot spots, Miller said. ese can support up to 10 users per tablet. On some long distance trips in larger vehicles, they'll bring a few on board as a backup plan. "ese are on AT&T, so they're on a different network in case our other car- rier has spotty coverage." GPS and ELD systems also may need to connect to the Internet, so this adds an extra layer of protection. e clients who use Wi-Fi the most are international travelers and stu- dents. Foreign tourists often find cell service is costly outside of their home countries, so it's easier for them to communicate on Wi-Fi. Students tend to use it for connecting to social media and to check their email. Mills notes Wi-Fi service is often written into con- tracts for university and tour groups. It may be a must if you're planning to pursue that kind of business. "It does separate us from competitors, so we use it as a leg up." If You've Got It, Flaunt It Jodi Merritt , president of H & L Charter Co. in Rancho Cucamonca, Calif., has provided Wi-Fi in her coaches for seven years. She has discovered Verizon works best in the western U.S., where they travel the most. She explains it's great for when people want to check 1 6 WWW.LCTMAG.COM LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION MARCH 2019 Staying Connected: Is Bus Wi-Fi Right For You? Depending on the kinds of clients you deal with, being able to access the Internet on their mobile devices could be vital — and increase your revenue. By Lexi Tucker, LCT assistant editor MOTORCOACHES: TECHNOLOGY PHOTO/ILLUSTRATION: KEVIN HAEGELE, LCT ART DIRECTOR Jami Crouch, director of operations for Gold Shield Transportation in Indianapolis, Ind.

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