Luxury Coach & Transportation

March 2019

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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18 LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION MARCH 2019 WWW.LCTMAG.COM MOTORCOACHES: TECHNOLOGY tality and travel industries. Making Streaming Possible New systems are emerging to help luxury transportation companies looking to provide onboard entertain- ment while generating additional revenue. ese services provide an entertainment ecosystem similar to what passengers use on major airlines. is includes amenities such as basic Wi-Fi, blockbuster movies, and TV programs. Chris Liang , director of sales for United Bus Technology (UBT), pro- vides a suite of hardware and software called the Netbox suite that was de- signed to suit the needs of the ground transportation business. is gives passengers the experience they want, while enabling the carrier to profit by offering the service on a per charter or per passenger basis. e UBT device acts as a localized hotspot and allows carriers the flexibil- ity to choose one or two data providers. "Our duo technology gives operators the ability to use the carri- ers with the best data rates paired with the best coverage, and our proprietary software lets us balance the load and makes manag- ing the system simple," Liang says. As motorcoach operators try to provide a more luxurious environ- ment for clients, Liang believes services like the Netbox suite will help companies stand out, provide opera- tors a way to increase revenue without in Ames, Iowa, has used Wi-Fi in her buses for five years. It's mostly meant for checking email and basic business functions, and giving stu- dents access to homework — not necessarily streaming. She makes a good point: Most people have the capability to download movies and music off of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, and more straight to their devices before their trip, so they can watch them offline at any time and won't need a super strong Wi-Fi signal. e first provider the company used was Sprint, but they have since switched to Saucon (see LCT contrib- utor Tom Holden's review on lctmag. com) since it's an ELD that runs on cellular service and can act as a hotspot. She also reiterates no matter what system or provider you have, the connection will cut in and out based on the cover- age available where you are traveling. She chose Saucon mostly because she needed to meet the requirements of the ELD mandate and wanted to get all costs on one bill. e company offers the service as an amenity within the contract clients receive, and prices it at $35 a day for the entire bus to have access. In deciding how much they would charge, Grzywacz looked at what models were being used in the hospi- their email, news, and social media, but when they start to try to download video, it tends to not work as well due to the heavy data it entails. She uses Verizon's MiFi Jetpack mobile hotspots, which are portable and easy to move among buses when needed. ey can support eight people at a time, so they include two to four per bus. "We use them a lot for international inbound tours because they don't want to have to pay for sim cards, and for student youth groups. Most of our domestic tours al- ready have data on their phone plans." e company charges $40 a day for Wi-Fi access for an entire bus, which works out to about $1 per passenger. is helps them recoup their costs. She also recommends speaking with your provider's representative to streamline and lower costs. "Try to get the unlim- ited data plan if they offer it." Merritt says Wi-Fi is listed on all of the company's brochures, and on every contract or quote they send out. "We take the 'do you want fries with that?' approach; that way, if they weren't thinking about it, they now know we offer it and it helps us stand out to the groups it matters most to." Streaming: Make Or Break? Kim Grzywacz , chairwoman of the Women in Buses Council (WiB) and co- owner of CIT Signature Transportation "You have to make sure your clients understand if there's no cell service in the area they plan to travel, there probably won't be reliable Wi-Fi service." —Jami Crouch Jodi Merritt, president of H & L Charter Co. in Rancho Cucamonca, Calif. Kim Grzywacz, chairwoman of the Women in Buses Council (WiB) and co-owner of CIT Signature Transportation in Ames, Iowa Chris Liang, director of sales for United Bus Technology (UBT)

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