Luxury Coach & Transportation

March 2015

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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Page 39 of 109

36 LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR MARCH 2015 WWW.LCTMAG.COM the hands-on selling mode, which is wrong. If you have a high-volume customer, you need to be out there and have the relationship with them. With social media, you try to pick up the business customer. If you have branded networks, you can use social networks to your advantage, for B2C and B2B. Without that, an operator is limited in what can be done. Running an ad in China for a local company won't work. It's a waste of money. But if you own a destination, like Raleigh, N.C., for example, and you have a good feet and affliate network, you can use social networks to build your brand. But make sure you own the local market and have local sources doing booking for you. Everyone runs to social media channels to advertise, but if you don't do branding, you are somewhat stuck. • • • • • LCT: What are the most vital topics of continuing education/training for service providers in the business travel and hospitality sectors? Fuller: Service education for a more global market and service education for your staff. Understanding service stan- dards is critical. Clear business practices are very important in this industry, for both people management and assets. With the limousine industry, you have a cluster of entrepreneurial and corpo- rate franchising models. Each of those are in play and can be used in combina- tion with a network or company, and an owner has to be able to do the analysis of the combination of assets (vehicles), labor (chauffeurs) and revenue manage- ment to just fgure out what is their best business model instead of reacting to the market. Because of new competition that did not exist before, you can't just react to the market. The education skill in the company offce must be there for revenue management, which we have not seen much in the past. We have that in airlines and hotels, but we're not sure how deep it goes in the limousine indus- try. On the educational side, it's also a matter of understanding the changes in the products out there and the ability to provide more comfortable vehicles. Party buses have gotten more sophisticated. The builders have developed exciting and unique products, so the owners have to put pressure on the sources to ensure the limos are there. — feured customer is the global traveler who doesn't have the confdence to rent a car but is not on a bus tour. That's where business can grow. • • • • • LCT: How does this affect the limousine industry? Fuller: We will see more limousine busi- ness, just not as extravagant as before. But people want the convenience of a limousine to make business more effec- tive and effcient. Limousines offer time- saving opportunities for business. It's not cash out of pocket. It's a billed item that can be handled. Limousine vehicles are more comfort- able for multiple uses and offer more safety factors. Vehicles need to continue to be safer, with more focus on that. There is real value in making sure the industry has high standards for safety. With the changes in the economy and opportunities, branding is also critical. Once I leave this area, I go with a brand- ed company. Those branded company networks will become increasingly more important, especially ones that use tech- nology well. Branding and consolidation happened in the hotel market a long time ago. It's happening in the limo industry, but there are still a lot of different [com- panies] out there right now. • • • • • LCT: What is your advice on pursuing solid business relationships in a more global business environment full of social media, gadgets and distractions? Fuller: You need to continue to mar- ket to a high volume of potential clients through direct sales. It's not just about going on the Internet. I'm a big propo- nent of selling in global markets, other than the U.S. The U.S. is getting out of ILCT NEWSMAKER Q&A: CUSTOMER SERVICE / BUSINESS TRAVEL We have not lost a life in a managed Marriott Hotel in the last 40 years. With Airbnb, you don't have the security, sprin- kler systems, insurance and levels of service that you do with hotels. Likewise, I don't think Uber is bonded in any way shape or form. There is a liability issue. In established hotel companies with brands, there can be mistakes, but brands are checked on so regularly and challenged to maintain customer service lev- els. Hotels have several checks and balances to make sure the hotel is doing well, and if it's not, that hotel is gone. The quality of the individual deals with training, experience, and back- ground support. Branded hotels and limousine companies have those advan- tages over Airbnb and a TNC. • • • • • LCT: What major global travel and hospitality trends should owners of chauffeured transportation compa- nies be prepared for? Fuller: The tops trends are the global- ization of visitors coming to the U.S., and the growth in international travel worldwide. The growth is coming from emerging markets, such as China, which is supposed to have 200 million travelers per year coming from mainland China. Other countries are growing, such as India and Russia. Everyone is traveling more. And China is always referred to because of its size and scope, but you will fnd people from smaller compa- nies in smaller volume traveling because of a high degree of interest in what's happening in the world today. More and more annual income in the middle classes and up is now spent on travel. Middle classes are growing worldwide. China expects to have 600 million peo- ple in the middle class by 2020, and oth- er emerging countries from Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia are all growing with opportunities to travel. When people reach middle class, there is a trip in the offng. The major chauf- Ed Fuller meets the Prince of Wales during a trip to the United Kingdom. KEYNOTE ADDRESS: YOU CAN'T LEAD WITH YOUR FEET ON THE DESK Edwin Fuller will speak to attendees of the 2015 International LCT Show at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 18 at The Venetian / The Palazzo conference center.

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