Luxury Coach & Transportation

February 2014

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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32 LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR FEBRUARY 2014 WWW.LCTMAG.COM ILCT 30TH ANNIVERSARY How They Loved Those The f rst show goers explored and found the ways to build today's networked, luxury transportation service sector. By Martin Romjue, LCT editor A TLANTIC CITY, N.J. — If you could have picked an ideal year to organize an industry, 1984 would have been the best. The economy roared, tax cuts blossomed, Apple com- puters emerged, Wall Street partied hard, and a beloved pro-business President won in a landslide. Into this era stepped the f rst ever lim- ousine industry trade show, on Dec. 9, 1984, at Caesars in Atlantic City. The ad- vantage of being a f rst is there are no rules and no guides — just a hope and vi- sion to succeed. And by the second year, the Limousine & Chauffer Show, now the International Limousine Charter & Tour Show, bested itself many times over. Thir- ty years later, the Show is an institution, a sophisticated, hyper-connected fulcrum of networking, selling and educating for a global luxury transportation sector. Some of those industry businesspeople who were there in 1984 are still coming today, a testament to an event that knows what traditions to keep and what changes to embrace. That f rst show started with about 25 stretch limousines on display with an expected crowd of 200. Founders Ed and Ty Bobit, the father-son team that ran Bobit Publishing and now run Bobit Business Media, ignited a novelty event that took off from day one. About 500 people came, as did local TV news crews from nearby Philadelphia. "The place was mobbed," recalls Frank Di Giacomo, who was a sales manager for Limousine & Chauffeur Magazine and oth- er magazines owned by Bobit Publishing. "Most of the exhibitors showing limos had ropes around them, like at a regular car show. We had to tell them this is a differ- ent type of show; 'You have to take those down, people want to see the limos.' They were used to auto shows and didn't want people in cars because they were afraid they would steal," adds Di Giacomo, now the vice president of Bobit Business Me- dia's Bus & Rail Group, which includes Metro Magazine and School Bus Fleet. But limousine operators are a different crowd; the coachbuilders learned quick- ly that allowing them to sit, sample and touch the vehicles could lead to lots of sales, he says. Just one year later, the show drew 100 vehicles and enough attendance to war- rant moving to the Atlantic City Conven- tion Center on the Boardwalk instead of at the smaller Caesars ballroom. An in- dustry institution was in the making. "We had no idea it was going to have the at- tendance it had and be as well received it was," Di Giacomo says. Richard Ramis, who was an original columnist at Limousine & Chauffeur Magazine and an early industry educa- tor, wrote a speech welcoming attendees to the f rst Show. "This was No. 1; no one had anything to compare it to," Ramis says. "We lived in the desert and they served ice cold water, and boom, it was a success." Ramis has seen the size and scope of the limousine industry multiply, growing from a mostly corporate and fu- neral service to a wide variety of niches and vehicle types that have surpassed the popularity of the stretch limousine. Perhaps no one captures the early limousine era better than the ubiquitous "Limo Bob," aka Robert J. Strauser, known to all. The f amboyant, dynamic, exotic limo operator, vehicle seller, manufactur- er and reality TV star with his trademark The frst show goers explored and found the ways L I M O _ 0 2 1 4 s h o w a g o . i n d d 3 2 LIMO_0214showago.indd 32 1 / 2 1 / 1 4 1 0 : 2 1 A M 1/21/14 10:21 AM

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