Luxury Coach & Transportation

March 2015

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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Page 38 of 109

LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR MARCH 2015 35 operators to understand when working with hotels? Fuller: If they are luxury tier hotels, the chauffeurs have to appear at a luxury level and with luxury vehicles. The last thing you want showing up in front of the Ritz-Carlton is a Toyota Prius. The ho- tel and transportation brands must match. That's automatically done in Asia. If you are dealing with a hotel, the quickest way to lose a contract is to fail to meet the customer on time. If my limo is not there, panic sets in, especially if it's taking me to a meeting or fight. Most important are on-time delivery, safety, quality and con- dition of vehicle, and the driver's skills and communications. • • • • • LCT: How do your principles of overcom- ing differences in multi-cultural business environments apply to chauffeured transportation operations? Fuller: First, you must understand the culture of who you are serving. You have to understand what the culture expects and what service should be, and whether or not you are dealing with a concierge environment. My business outside of the U.S. culture was everything. Building confdence and trust is hard in some of these markets. There has to be a devel- oped understanding of the market, the culture, and the challenges. Clients often choose limousine trans- portation because they are coming into environments that make them uncom- fortable. If you have Chinese coming in, for example, you must be sensitive to their cultural norms and ways. The num- ber of international visitors to the U.S. is growing by leaps and bounds. We had 1.5 million visitors from China in 2014, and 7.5 million visitors are expected in 2020 (Department of Commerce fgures). • • • • • LCT: How can chauffeured transpor- tation operations better compete with Transportation Network Compa- nies, such as Uber? Fuller: That in itself is the toughest question. You clearly have to understand your market base, and the need to take a forward-looking approach to selling and sourcing markets. Limo companies sometimes wait for travel agents to call them. My challenge is to show that they need to go out and seek out the inter- national sources from channels available. Personalized sales efforts will have a pay- back because this is a sales relationship business. If you are in a luxury market, you are probably not at risk from Uber or Sidecar. If you are in the general mar- ket, you are at risk. Understand the dif- ferences in markets and price points. It's like selling a hotel room. With that said, Uber has made huge mistakes with sliding price scales. Limos have fxed rates that will not change overnight just because there is a football game going on, short of the Super Bowl. It is urgent that limousine operations fg- ure out what differentiates them from the greater segment, from the new market competitors. It's usually not availability. It's usually price, and it's also to a great extent driven by the new segment in lifestyle which is the younger executives and travelers today. I think limo compa- nies need to pay attention to the genera- tion coming up. Those who buy luxury often will get it no matter what the age. Uber and Sidecar are having a greater impact in the taxi industry than in the limo industry, but limos are still feeling the effects. A lot of that is about availabil- ity. If I have a short term need and I call for a limo, they might say they have trou- ble getting a car because it's short notice. But that's not my fault; that's my need. At that point is where these cabs jump in and snap you away. Limo companies should be competitive for more short-term needs, such as when I get out of a meeting early and have another one. I need a short-term ride because I'm not comfortable with the cab system or Uber. But If I can't get a limo, I'm left with those two choices. • • • • • LCT: How should the hotels/hospital- ity industry stay competitive against such app-based services as Airbnb? Fuller: The issue there is virtually the same. You don't have the same safety requirements. In hotels, that's very im- portant, such us having fre sprinklers. Ed Fuller (3 rd from L) and fellow executives on the airport tarmac after arriving in Cairo, Egypt for the opening of a J.W. Marriott Hotel. Fuller traveled extensively to established and emerging markets throughout his 40-year career at Marriott International. ILCT KEYNOTE SPEAKER EDWIN FULLER Current: Founder and President, Laguna Strategic Advisors, Irvine, Calif. www.lagun- Previous: President and Managing Director of Marriott International Lodging Divi- sion (1991-2012); various executive, management, and director positions for Marriott International (1972-1991). Book: You Can't Lead With Your Feet On the Desk: Building Relationships, Breaking Down Barriers, and Delivering Profits, published March 2011 by Wiley. Military service: U.S. Army, Captain; awarded the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal for exemplary service during missions in Vietnam and Germany. Education: Harvard School of Business Advanced Management Program (1987); Boston University, B.S. Degree in Business Administration (1968).

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