Luxury Coach & Transportation

December 2016

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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Page 23 of 75

22 LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR DECEMBER 2016 WWW.LCTMAG.COM SPECIAL SECTION: PEOPLE Global Go-Getter Leandro Pires, president, Royal American Worldwide Limousine, Miami, Fla. and São Paulo, Brazil After earning a degree in hospitality manage- ment and studying finance, Leandro Pires was hired by one of the coolest, most distin- guished brands in the world, The Ritz-Carlton, at its location in Naples, Fla. There he observed and learned from the chauffeured service it provided. After he combined his parents' company in Brazil with the one he started in Miami, he has since been able to implement the same kind of service. One of the lessons he has learned is that, especially in today's market, you have to be picky when selecting affiliates. To maintain your reputation and relationships with clients, you have to do more than just call up or email another luxury ground transportation company. "We go to every single location before we start doing jobs with affili- ates," he says. "Our selection process is something that makes us unique. We want to choose the best of every city to represent us." Pires also stresses the importance of checking for a company's compliance with state and federal regulations, as well as making sure the businesses you are working with have proper insurance coverage. Fun Fact: Leandro enjoys spending time with his two young children, playing golf, and as an entrepreneur, trying to find ways to make people's lives easier. Relationship Builder Sean Duval, CEO, Golden Limousine, Ann Arbor, Mich. Sean Duval knows saying "no" to a customer isn't cool, and avoids doing so at all costs. "We find ways to say 'YES.' My clients have a need, and my first, second, and third answer is almost always yes. I know they've identified a need, and the need doesn't go away just because I don't have availability. If they trust me, I need to en- gage my resources to ensure my clients' need is taken care of and not leave them to fend for themselves." This mentality of helping others is the inspiration behind the advice he gives to fellow operators: Make strong partnerships. "Creating solid, positive, local, regional, and national relationships is vital to your success both now and in the future. Your hard work is supported greatly by surrounding yourself with encouraging, successful minded people who care about you," he says. Duval is also staying connected to the technology, systems, and organizations developing autonomous vehicles. "I serve on the advisory committee for the American Center for Mobility. We are also close to and monitor M-City, the Mobility Transformation Center at the University of Michigan's test facility for evaluating the capabilities of con- nected and automated vehicles and systems." Fun Fact: Duval enjoys sports (particularly tennis, golf, soccer, and football), good food, and spending time with his friends and family. Lifelong Limo Leader Matt Assolin, vice president, Nikko's Worldwide Chauffeured Services, Houston and Austin, Texas Matt Assolin was reading LCT before it was cool… and before it was LCT. He remembers the publica- tion by its previous title: Limousine and Chauffeur Magazine. Now an operator and treasurer of the Houston Area Livery and Charter Association, he's no stranger to the world of luxury ground transportation. Raised with a "service over all" mentality, he still ensures technology plays a role within his company. However, "at the end of the day, if your customer service isn't top notch or above and beyond what your competitor can offer, than you don't have much that sets you apart," he says. For those who spend time worrying about what new threat might be here tomorrow, Assolin has some advice: Stop thinking of TNCs as competitors and start thinking of them as introductory black car services. "We've had a ton of new clients come through the door be- cause they are fed up with the service provided by Uber and Lyft. When they get a little taste of having someone else be the driver, they might use the app for a while, and then something will go wrong. The driver doesn't show up or they have a bad experience, and people are willing to trade up. They are willing to pay more for better service, better vehicles, and proper chauffeurs. TNCs are essentially our industry's greatest mar- keting tool for new and potential customers." Fun Fact: Matt enjoys golfing and family time, and is trying to earn his private pilot license. Matt Assolin knows that custom- ers soon tire of TNCs and want a real chauffeur experience. Leandro Pires was born to be an entrepreneur. Sean Duval believes 'yes' gets your further than 'no.'

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