Luxury Coach & Transportation

April 2015

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR APRIL 2015 27 tination hot spots has made party buses popular here, and we're looking to add more to the feet." Vecchio started the business with a single school bus conversion, and did most of the early driving himself. The experience gave him key insight on setting up conduct policies for his passengers. "You have to take a real- istic approach and lay it out for the customer," Vecchio says. "If there is smoking on the bus, that is a fne. And if there's damage to the bus, the client has to sign they are responsible." ChiTown Party Bus doesn't book pickups af- ter 11 p.m. Vecchio trains his drivers to stop the bus and pull over if they observe any unsafe behavior, and address the issue with the individual who booked the ride and signed the service contract. Operator Tom Soliman of All Starz Limousine in Anaheim, Calif., says regulating passen- gers comes with the territory in party bus work. "We make sure everyone understands they can't stand on the seats, there's no leaning on windows, and all of our emergency exits and windows have driver alerts, so if they're opened even a little bit, the driver will know and pull the bus over. You have to scare the client a little," he says. "Go over everything and make them aware that they have to be responsible." Once all regulations are in place, the party does and will go on. Rivas routinely packs his larger vehicles with 30+ eager patrons who imbibe and dance their way to Hol- lywood and Las Vegas. Soli- man runs his "Silver Bullet" 40-passenger bus to Vegas and venues in Orange Coun- ty. Vecchio provides safe and fun transport for an array of Chicago demographic groups cruising the city for a good time — with vomit poli- cies in place of course ($250 for cleans, he says). Marketing To Retail And Corpo- rate Clients The Ps and Qs of party bus regula- tions and safety are just the frst challenges for dans and stretches. F or operators to succeed in this market, they must be diligent about adhering to all safety standards and educat- ing their clients on what is and isn't allowed on the buses dur- ing transit. They also must be thorough with recordkeeping and maintenance because of the hefy losses of downtime and bus repairs. Safety Regulations A Must One party bus operator who successfully navigates these waters is Art Rivas, CEO of Li- mo4me.com in Carson, Calif. The company has operated since 2001 with Rivas acting as silent partner, but three years ago, Rivas took over as sole owner and manager of operations. He quickly intro- duced new organization pro- cedures at the company and has grown the feet from 25 to now 50 limo-style buses. "When I took a bigger role at the company, I knew I had to play to my strengths, which are policy and procedures," Rivas says. "Everything we do now is charted on paper. Every maintenance request or checklist is accounted for, and I have my contact at the Cali- fornia Public Utilities Com- mission on speed dial." Rivas has his vehicles rou- tinely inspected by the CHP every 45 days. He uses a strict maintenance checklist for drivers to go over before they drive each bus, and has a thorough policy for edu- cating clients on conduct be- fore payment. "We've had no choice but to get strong on safety issues," says Rivas, ex- pressing a universal truth to party bus operators. Because of the nature of the work, op- erators are dealing with pas- sengers likely to be inebriat- ed and walking, dancing, and jumping around the vehicle while it's in motion. It is a potential liability nightmare. High-profle deaths and in- juries on party buses have led to stricter regulations and higher insurance costs. Party Buses Pop Up Around The U.S. The demand for party buses, however, keeps growing. In some markets, business is booming. Chicago is one such hotspot for party buses where Chris Vecchio, owner of ChiTown Party Bus, has been capitalizing on the mar- ket. "We've been around for fve years, and recently the demand has just exploded, bringing with it a lot of com- petition. The expanse of the city and large number of des- ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / DAMEDEESO Party buses come with a unique set of challenges foreign to operators who have been running sedan-only feets and traditional stretches. Left: Rivas inside one his newest vehicles, a 30-passenger party bus nicknamed "The Onyx." Above/Inset: All Starz Limousine CEO Tom Soliman has three party buses, with his most popular being the 40-passenger "Silver Bullet" pictured here. A P R I L 2 0 1 5 2 7 t h e c i t y f o r a g o o d w i t h v o m i t p o l i - p l a c e o f ( $ 2 5 0 a n s , n g p o - n t s a n d p a r t y e g u l a - d s a f e t y t h e f r s t e s f o r A M E D E E S O

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