SLIVER OF A SILVER LINING?
Chauffeured operators are looking for any sliver of good news amid a declining economy and falling reveneues. Well, we found one: international tourists
. American visa rules have been loosened this year and foreign tourism is up. Global visitors tend to spend more amid the dazzling distractions and amenities of America. Some of that travel budget should be going toward chauffeured transportation. Americans may be staying at home and cutting back, but many visitors from around the globe could provide a market opp for much needed revenues. -- M.R.
ELECTION DAY OPPS: At LCT Magazine, we sure have had our fill of limousine poles, especially with our attempts to document the latest trends in party buses (see September issue). And while you can certainly argue that party poles on limo buses provide a valued public service to our highly-mobile, entertainment-oriented, consumerist democracy, the types of polls that will predominate on Nov. 4 can offer operators a patriotic marketing idea. If business is slow and you are looking for a good cause, taking people who need rides to the polls looks like a worthwhile way to build community good will. There are likely senior citizens, single mothers, and people without cars who could use a ride. And you never know, depending on which candidate wins, supporters of the winner may be open to the idea of renting a limousine or party bus to celebrate in the election aftermath. So throw a little red, white, and blue into the limo, and be thankful our nation still values the privilege to vote and the freedom needed to succeed as an independent business. -- M.R.
A federal judge just ruled in favor
of taxi owners in New York City who don't want to be forced to acquire 25 MPG cars. No word yet on how this would affect black car operators. Stay tuned.
Yes, it's that horrifying holiday. USA Today writers
used this opportunity to detail some of their tricky, terrifying travel experiences this year. Airlines have been cutting too many flights... NOOOO!!!!... Flights are being rerouted.... ARRRGGGHHHH!!!!... One travel writer had to stay in a small, grim room with bad carpeting.... YIKES!!!! There were also travel treats for this group. Read on. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
As I finished editing an article on van pools coming out in LCT's December issue, I thought about discussions I've had with operators in the past few months. For van pools, the issue is that luxury chauffeured transportation is not a hot commodity for corporations and government agencies using these services. They might not be willing to pay more for a plush van and a chauffeur. My thought: maybe this isn't such as a bad situation. There are many operators around the country who've grown and added subsidiaries in all scopes of transportation, and this includes ambulences, school buses, moving trucks, "black cars," and taxis. Yes, I said it: taxis. These operators are becoming large ground transportation companies. They also provide classic luxury chauffeured services, but can basically service any needed transportation in their market area. As the economy sours, it's important to look at viable options for your company. Van pools might be a good move to make, but it might require flexibility on your part. -- Jon LeSage
OUCH!!! There's always something happening in the back of a limousine. Sometimes it's bank robbers on a getaway, or a fistfight right after a prom or a night on the town. And there's this story - involving a man hitting his wife with a champagne bottle in the back of a limo. What can you do? And why do these stories end up in newspapers and websites? Don't bad things happen in taxis, too?
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DIGEST THIS: While we won't publish the state of the industry presentation from the recent Limousine Digest Show in the pages of LCT Magazine, we just can't resist spinning a speech given by two LCT advisory board members and then scooping our competitor. . . .
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NLA President Richard Kane recommends that members contact their U.S. senators on amendments to the Real Interstate Driver Equity (RIDE) Act. This will also be coming up before the House either in late November or after the first of the year.
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Where have you hired your latest operations manager, general manager, vice president, etc.? Did he/she come from a competitor? This happens all the time and sometimes works out very well, and sometimes not so swell. For LEADER Worldwide Chauffeured Services
, hiring a new president/general manager with years of experience at Ritz Carlton has made a lot of sense. Company chief exec Bruce Heinrich has his own background experience with this five star hotel chain, and the two probably worked together in the past. Hotel experience makes a lot of sense for entering chauffeured transportation. You've spent years providing service to wealthy and well-off customers, you must deal with customer service pressure and problems, staff turnovers happen all the time, and building an excellent brand is essential for growth and profitability. Offering ancillary services is also part of the equation, and these customers will gladly pay for them if they feel spoiled by the luxury experience. Keep your eyes open: you may already have contacts at hotels who could work out beautifully in your management team.
UNDERWHELMING: Check out the launch of a global reservation system for hybrid limousines. Electricar.com may be a great concept with great execution. . .but there is a problem. These fleet vehicles ARE NOT limousines, nor are they luxury sedans like the DTS or the Town Car. Yes, the Lexus 600h almost qualifies, but take a peek in the battery-stuffed trunk and see how many checked bags and carry-ons actually fit. Lost in the spectacle of ga-ga greenery is the emphasis on ROOM. And it goes without saying that the Prius and Camry entries are just laughable. Let's just sell those little hybridette buggers off to Avis and be done with them. If anyone ever shows up to pick you up in a Prius or Camry, then hail a cab.
So here's a proposal: This industry should start taking "hybrid limousines" seriously once the technology can actually SUPPORT a limousine or luxury vehicle. If operators compromise on comfort and amenities in the name of going green, then don't be surprised if the industry loses its luxury reputation. The bargain here is that the limousine and chauffeured transportation industry should only spend time and money going green if it can maintain fleets of big Lincolns, Cadillacs, Hummers, etc. In fact, instead of letting the green gremlins constantly rate us with "carbon credits," let us rate vehicles among the automakers based on "limo credits," or economic and consumer viability. It could be the industry version of Consumer Reports, or a livery version of Zagat.
We may be entering a political era of schmaltzy "shared sacrifice," but we don't have to extend such collectivist crockery to luxury vehicles. -- M.R.
What is it about bank robbers using limos to get away? The latest episode, which happened in Dallas
, is not the first time this has happened this year. Perhaps watching TV news or surfing the web gives these guys ideas: "Hey, I'm going to do that in my town!" A stretch limo might look much better as a getaway car than a rusted out, crashed in 1985 Buick LeSabre, but it doesn't seem to be working for these bad guys.
CLIENT OPPS: If George Jacobs, CEO of Windy City Limousine of Chicago, can promote the funeral industry as a recession-era opportunity for chauffeured operators, then we can certainly throw it all to the dogs as well. Jacobs encouraged operators to look for funeral home business during his speech at the Limousine Digest Show in Atlantic City, N.J. last week.
Dogs and dead people tend to be recession proof. Dog-lovers will do anyting for their pets -- in upturns and downturns. Pet-related purchases involve more emotion and impulse than most consumer retail decisions -- even choosing a casket and funeral arrangements.
And given the perponderance of pet pampering in a still relatively prosperous America, why not market to those dog and cat owners who spoil their pets? We now have pet salons, hotels, gift shops, bakeries, grooming and fitness services. . . why not dog-centric limousine services for pet and owner? In fact, co-marketing your livery services with veterinarian hospitals and practices can bring you repeat business. What better way to blunt the trauma of pet surgery than to offer limousine service to both pet and owner. After all, if a doggie luxury hotel with chauffeured services can make it, so can pet limos. -- M.R.
Gasoline prices have now dropped to their lowest level in nearly 19 months, according to the AAA's weekly survey. The national average is $2.668, about 35% lower than at its highest price ever in mid-July.
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Here's commentary from New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission Chairman Matthew Daus on the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade's lawsuit on the black car 25 MPG rule.
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LIMOUSINE DIGEST SHOW: Say, what? Limousine Digest mentioned on an LCT blog? Call it the unthinkable, but LCT Editor Martin Romjue traversed the annual trade show and conference at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J. this week. While the two trades have been swapping complimentary staff convention passes for years, neither tends to write about the other. Let's just say LCT Magazine is secure enough in its limousculinity to take a risk and report on its competitor's show. . .
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The Baby Boomer generation started turning 60 two years ago when the U.S. Census Bureau
estimated that 7,918 of them were turning that age each day. They're obviously a great revenue source for operators, as these Americans have more expendable cash, more time on their hands, and usually have kids who are growing up
and needing transportation. Now that the Year One boomers are 62 and getting closer to retirement, you should also think about this community being an important source for chauffeur hiring. As we've seen lately in the news, retirees (and those soon to be) are stressed out to the max as they watch the value of their 401ks and IRAs dropping way down. They need to make money, even if it's part-time work. Most operators have excellent chauffeurs who are in that age range, sometimes a few years older. As long as they retain their health and driver safety, aging boomers are probably the best source of strong chauffeur candidates to cultivate. -- Jon LeSage
SCARY LIVERY & TOWN CAR TERROR! What happens after you’ve just stepped into a Town Car, the doors have clicked to locked, the chauffeur starts driving. . . and then he tells you he’s angry, you are his last run, and he will quit his company that night? LCT Editor Martin Romjue recounts his nerve-jiggling experience with a farm-out that went up in flames, or better yet, a. . . . Chauffeur On The Edge!
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If you've ever called Jim Luff on a Monday and then wondered why he didn't pick up or get back to you right away, don't take it personally. There are reasons for such behavior.
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Two previous chairpersons of the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission are supporting the federal lawsuit filed by the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade challenging the 25 MPG rule that is due to start up Oct. 31, 2008. Howard Harrison sent out this response in Limo Talk National Newswire from current chair Matthew Daus and the original press release announcing opposition to the TLC's mandate.
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California's housing market conditions have been one of the starting points for national, and then global, financial and credit market collapses, according to economic analysts. The Wall Street Journal just published a story analyzing the situation
- it might be the beginning of a positive economic trend: "While the volume of existing-home sales across the U.S. fell 10.7% in August from the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors, there are signs that the most damaged of markets are starting to heal themselves. Across hard-hit California, sales volumes rose 65% in September compared with a year ago, said MDA DataQuick, a San Diego-based real-estate information service."
On the other side of the coin, market conditions are still very unstable. The drastic drop in home prices in some California markets mean several homeowners are upside down in their loans, which moves them toward foreclosing their mortgages. The problem isn't solved yet, but it may have hit bottom and start stabilizing. Let's hope for the best.
ANOTHER REASON TO VISIT:
The U.S. is allowing international visitors to enter the country up to 90 days without a visa under a new program
. This is yet another reason for foreign travelers to visit America; the major reason being the increased value of their currency over the dollar. So, marketing to international visitors offers you another market segment that could increase during a time when others are decreasing. Setting up affiliate relationships with operators in Europe and other regions of the world can facilitate this market growth.
The Boca Raton Concourse d'Elegance will be coming up again in February. There are other showcases of classic, antique cars and motorcycles that have been held around the country for years; Pebble Beach is one of the better known events. There is a growing audience in the U.S. for these events - people are buying and selling classic cars and love attending and having their pictures taken. Chauffeured car companies usually do well offering clients classics for weddings and special events. They don't always own these cars - they might be loaned to them by a local classic car trader. Classics look good in company promotions - on websites and in brochures.
It's not an easy time for operators, especially those in hurricane zones or dealing with corporate clients going out of business. Unfortunately, there's a more regular, routine problem that comes up: dealing with unruly, violent customers. Two stories were posted with this sad tale - one in Toronto
and one in Daytona Beach
. Why is it that an industry that provides such a high level of service gets dragged into these messes? Passenger alcohol and drug overuse is part of it, along with powder keg problems in major cities. Many chauffeured companies do what they can to subvert or stop these fights through chauffeur training, dispatcher communications, law enforcement agency relationships, and vehicle security equipment.
The National Business Travel Association has surveyed travel managers on how they're dealing with the global credit crunch. Travel is being cutback, but it's good to know how this is being done and what chauffeured companies can do to adapt.
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NO SO FAST:
This story about the Ford Escape Hybrid
shows why the move to greener luxury absolutely cannot compromise any standards with regards to safety, comfort, size, and covenience. In the zeal to curb carbon emissions, regulators, automakers, and the industry need to make sure haste does not lead to waste. -- M.R.
Retirement centers are good place to offer your services. Many facilities around the country are now offering chauffeured services
. As Baby Boomers make it to 60 years old and beyond, the market will be growing along the need for more professional transportation. It's a great opportunity to combine added revenue with providing needed service to your community.
The limousine industry became an actual industry in the 1970s/1980s, and before that it was limited to presidents, kings and queens, statesmen, movie/rock stars, and the very wealthy. Car collectors enjoy viewing and riding in classics such as Woodrow Wilson's Pierce-Arrow
, which is pictured at the left. Mercedes-Benz has lately been promoting its new S600 Pullman state limousine. Queen Elizabeth II
used to ride around in this elegant car. Elegant limousines will always be used by the rich, famous, and powerful, even as businessmen shy away from stretches and ask for executive vans, SUVs, and sedans.
With American, Continental, and Delta reporting Q3 losses, airlines are analyzing corporate markets
to see which way the wind may blow in the next quarter. For Continental, energy companies are continuing to travel, the auto industry has plunged downwards, and pharmaceuticals are expected to reduce slightly next year. American Airlines says that New York, the epicenter of financial markets, has been the hardest hit region. This is yet another development that points the way toward chauffeured transportation companies convincing corporate clients and prospects that ground transportation offers them advantages over air travel. They still need to take business trips, and if they're thinking about traveling 100 to 250 miles from their offices, ground transportation is the way to go, especially for group trips.
OIL PRICES PLUMMET: The one redeeming factor in the economic contraction is a steep downturn in oil and gas prices, which are the primary drivers of inflation. UPDATE HERE. While the U.S. may be suffering stock and job market losses, at least we're all paying less for gas and dealing with lighter inflationary pressures. That can only be a silver lining for operators, many of whom are seeing fewer client runs. At least the gas won't cost as much. But don't get rid of that fuel surcharge just yet. A percentage drop, though, might be a nod in the right direction. -- M.R.
Given the declining economy and airline hassles, the stress level for the typical business traveler has skyrocketed. NY Times story here
. Imagine this scenairo: Hearing that your flight is being delayed so the airline can switch to a smaller aircraft while the airport TVs overhead are echoing the latest news on the Dow plunge. You need to stand in line for a new boarding pass, with the possibility of being put into a middle seat, while you've just lost 15% of your entire net worth. The solution? A luxury chauffeured sedan! Operators can market to stressed out business travelers, by showing them what they can look forward to at their destination: A First Class ride to wherever they need to go. It makes up for the discomfort of flying. So while operators face a bear market in business travel, that can be offset by the bull market in stress among remaining travelers. -- M.R.
TOP 100 FLEETS: Jim Luff analyzes the pluses and minuses of LCT's annual Top 100. Building your reputation for quality service matters more than making the list, he says.
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AGGRESSIVE PRICING: The future clearly belongs to online limousine bookers and reservation sites. LimoRes.net just raised another $20 million to fund global growth. Such service sites will proliferate and net more customers, especially as clients see tighter budgets and diminshed bottom lines. For operators, that means competitive value pricing and excellent service. There's not much margin for error in a slowing economy and an online landscape of instant price comparisons. -- M.R.
Corporate executives have been shunning stretch limousines for years now, especially after the Enron fiasco happened and federal corporate clean-up legislation was passed earlier this decade. And the negative public image goes back even further, especially into the 1980s. That's when people were worried about being perceived as similar to Gordon Gekko
. Gekko was the main character in the hit Oliver Stone movie,"Wall Street,"
which lambasted financier corruption and ironically came out the same year as the October stock market plunge. These days, corporate execs want chauffeured rides, but they're being picked up in black sedans, SUVs, buses, and executive vans. Stretches are cool for retail customers (especially kids) who want them for special events and nights on the town. My, how things change.
The Motley Fool is a good website to visit
for getting the latest news, analysis, and recommendations on making your investment strategy work. For anyone who has money in stock market mutual funds (such as through IRAs and 401-Ks), or even more traditional funds full of T-bills, municipal bonds, and CDs, this is a very bad period to live through. What your funds were worth one month ago versus today - oops! Check out this information source and stay tuned. This is going to take months and months to get through, but it's very good to stay informed and make necessary changes to your investment strategy. You probably want to retire someday.
CAN THIS BE SAID ENOUGH?
Chauffeured transportation is good for business and profits. For you and your clients. Operators know this. We know it. But are you sure you've emphasized this message
enough to potential clients?
Seeing a funeral hearse can bring up feelings of dread, especially for a military family
. It's a very sad day to go through, but families need a professional transportation company to provide excellent service. While LCT Magazine doesn't cover the funeral industry, it is an important part of the business for many operators. It's also meant a lot to auto manufacturers, especially Lincoln and Cadillac, which have built base models that have been modified and turned into hearses by several coachbuilders. Accubuilt
is one of the largest chauffeured vehicle manufacturers and owns DaBryan Coach Builders. It also owns Superior Coaches and Eureka, two major builders of funeral vehicles. Accubuilt has other brand divisions with specialty vehicles such as Tuscany and Accubuilt Mobility. This is an important trend for manufacturers to reconcile, as the need for diverse chauffeured vehicles expands in the global economy.
LONG-TERM RESCUE: A leading entrepreneurial foundation finds that older, baby-boomer entrepreneurs will be providing much of the ingenuity and drive to re-start economic growth in future years. This could be a favorable long-term trend to emerge from the current economic shambles: Smaller, more diverse businesses independent of large corporations and investment firms.
From the L.A. Times article: "Though many people think of entrepreneurs as twentysomethings laboring in their garages on the next Silicon Valley success, the reality is that people age 35 and older have higher entrepreneurship activity rates."
For chauffeured transportation operators, a nation teeming with busy new entrepreneurs, both old and young, would be a substantial market and business opportunity. Entrepreneurs are starved for time, and what better way to save time than to use chauffeured sedans and limousines plugged into digital technologies. As has been the case for decades, small to medium sized businesses and similar-sized services that cater to them will remain the economic muscle of America. -- M.R.
National Limousine Association President Richard Kane emailed out this letter to the industry asking for financial support donations for operators in Houston and Baton Rouge, La., impacted by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.
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PORTLAND, OR and TAMPA, FL: Findings here
Even if the economy was purring like a happy cat, operators and chauffeurs must deal with a constant pressure: collisions. On Saturday night, a racing car in Fort Worth, Texas, smashed into a stretch Hummer, injuring 10 passengers
. When you look at the crash photo and see how punched in the Hummer was, the good news is that no passenger was killed. On the other side of the coin, a sad thing happened in Holyoke, Mass., when a chauffeur struck a bicyclist and then died soon after stepping out
of the limousine to see what he'd done. Bad events happen in this business regularly - roads are packed with vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians, and things can get out of control.
NOT LOONY: At first glance, the VW Phaeton should deserve a spot in our loony limo gallery, but the stretch limousine is more likely to make you mad instead of laugh. The quality of VWs has plummeted since the German automaker peaked in the U.S. in 1998-2000 with its VW Jettas and Passats. I know from personal experience that a Passat is not a reliable vehicle, incurring all kinds of maintenance problems and repairs well before old age. I finally got rid of it at 53,000 miles. So it's rather pathetic to see a VW Phaeton limousine feigning livery luxury and reliability. We didn't even know there was such a thing. The Phaeton was VW's response to the BMW 7-series and other high-profile luxury sedans in the $85,000 to $120,000 range. It sold so poorly in the U.S.during the early 2000s that dealerships yanked it. VW should stay out of livery; it's not a car associated with reliable, classy chauffeured transportation. -- M.R.
BTW/FYI: A Phaeton limo carrying an Austrian governor, Joerg Haider, crashed at 88 mph Saturday night in Klagenfurt, Carinthia, kiling the Neo-Nazi sympathizer. No mourning needed for the vehicle or its occupant.
WAGE TRENDS AND COMPARISONS: It goes without saying that wages and labor issues have moved to the forefront of operator concerns. Here are the latest findings from payscale.com on what chauffeurs are earning, based on experience and region of the country.
GLOBAL GADDING: Even during the 1930s, a segment of society remained wealthy and spent accordingly. And although America may be headed more toward the 1970s than the far worse 1930s, luxury limousine operators can take heart that a substantial slice of the global travel luxury market will remain. How else to explain the growth in luxury services connected to international air carriers, including chauffeured services to and from airports, hotels, and other destinations. This article expalins how such airlines are taking over the luxury air travel market and competing through expanding menus of ancillary luxury services. For operators, there could be opportunities in either affiliating with these airlines or at least farming out clients who are passengers. Of course, if these airlines attract luxury travelers to cities worldwide, then their clientele may need to spend money on ground transportation beyond what the airlines offer. Dubai, Singapore, and New Delhi are three strong sources of such travelers, and airlines that cater to them. -- M.R.
WHERE'S THE CREDIT?
While loan terms of all types become stricter, swapping and shopping for a vehicle is still possible. Swapalease.com
may be a decent alternative in a constricted market if you really need a vehicle. Swapalease.com is an automotive lease marketplace and the pioneer of facilitating lease transfers online based on the company's patented processes.
IS MAIN STREET LIKE WALL STREET? That's the big question facing chauffeured operators nationwide as the U.S. financial sector skids into an irrational, full-blow panic. LCT Magazine would like to hear from operators. What's going on in your area/market? Is the sky falling? As an industry, it's important to get the right perspective and the right-sized picture. Whatever drama plays out in the media, it's the daily grind that tells the most truth. Please e-mail us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or just post an observation or comment below.
FINANCIAL TIP: Any investment advisor who down-played investments in gold or gold-related mutual funds since the early 2000s has been proven a moron. It's also interesting to note how the "grandma and grandpa investments" of gold, CDs, bonds, Treasuries, blue-chips, and just plain old cash in the dresser have proven right. And how gambles in home equity loans, real estate speculation, exotic fringe mutual funds, restaurant stocks, and global/international mutual funds have proven. . . well, less reliable than a slot machine in an Atlantic City casino. -- M.R.
Google now gets about 40 million hits per month relating to limo services, according to LimoQuoter.com, a global Internet booking site
for the limousine industry. There are several limousine booking sites on the market now, some come and go. Limos.com has the highest booking volume, but other websites have been growing, too. And to get more visits and bookings on their own company websites, operators are doing all they can to make sure their websites rank high on Google during limo searches. One way to bring up your ranking is build up your links with other organizations such as wedding groups, chambers of commerce, and tourism associations. There will probably be no cost involved and more visits to your site, and a higher ranking on Google.
Operators with vehicles carrying more than 15 passengers (that means 14 plus driver) is requiring more from state and federal Dept. of Transportation standards, no matter if it's a stretch limo, bus, or van. Limousine Association of Houston President Joe Jordan sent out this Texas DOT summary to members.
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Highland Park, Ill., chauffeur Leonel Cesar has been getting criticized
by parents for calling the police on drinking teens in his limo bus after being unable to reach the parents. "We know we are going to lose some business," said Any Time Limo General Manager Alex Mich. "It's not about the money; it's about doing the right thing." While the kids are underage, the parents say it was better and safer to use the limo and let the teenagers drink rather than let them drink and drive. It's a tough call, but the chauffeur was following company policy and his boss backed him up. This has happened several times in the past 2-3 years. Prom business can be tough to handle, just like winery tours.
During a time of economic downturn, there are still geographic zones that are doing well - neighborhoods where residents value luxury ground transportation. Chauffeured transportation companies will always provide rides for those who can pay for it. Forbes did a nice job
of rounding up data that might help you beef up your business plan. For Forbes' top 500 list of top dollar zip codes, California neighborhoods house half of the list; New York, Connecticut, and Florida, also host rich residential zones. Read on for more information including real estate sales trends.
VIDEO MARKETING: You have to give credit to the makers of "Beverly Hills Limo" for thinking outside of the marketing box with its comedy promotional video. The video combines wackiness with self-deprecating humor. If done right, such a marketing approach can be far more effective than a traditional, formal P.R. video that looks and sounds like all the others.
The most important element in this video is personality. Whether you think the approach is hokey or clever, it nevertheless introduces chauffeurs and staff members as distinct personalities. If adapted as an actual sales or promotional video for an operator, this technique can appeal to clients by simply telling a story and making them laugh, as opposed to the finessed braggadocio of so many corporate videos.
In Arizona. Aloha Limousine
near Phoenix offers a themed experience
to attract customers. Whether it's cultural, event, holiday, or sports-related, creating an experience as opposed to just offering a ride can distinguish a chauffeured service beyond the typical or the ordinary. Aloha's company motto is "Breaking the Boundaries of Traditional Limousine Service."
Our upcoming issue, being finished up today, includes our annual coverage of insurance, finance, and leasing. One complementary topic to insurance and safety is consumer awareness. This blog post
from Miami Limousine Airport Transportation
(Broward Limousine & Airport Services) warns consumers of common limousine rental risks. Such consumer awareness should be part of every operator's media and marketing outreach, helping to build trust with potential and current clients as well as providing a public service. Such assurances can bring many intangible benefits. -- M.R.
"There is added safety to a helicopter over, say, a limousine,” says Sikorsky helicopter manufacturer Western region manager David Grupe
. Could that be true? Helicopters are more important now for local business and personal transportation, as are private jets, bus trips, and chauffeured transportation. This manufacturer is trying to compete with private jets and get more business with the growing pool of wealthy and corporate travelers who want to avoid the major airports. But why mention limousines when it comes to safety? Why not jets or other transportation vehicles? Why take a swipe at the industry unless you can verify what you're saying? Very strange.
Here are the most typical news stories you can read about limo operators in online newspapers:
-A local operator provides rides to kids going back to school or prom.
-A car crashes into a limo causing harsh or tragic consequences.
-Taxi drivers and owners complain about limos taking rides from them at airports or hotels.
-Cities and states pass new regulations and fees squeezing limo operators.
-A start-up story on a new operator in a small town.
about three young dudes starting up Go Limo in Columbia, Mo. They've got a bright pink Hummer stretch and plan to buy a Prevost coach bus. Whatever the point of these stories is for local papers, it's good that they industry gets more coverage now than a few years ago.
Halloween is just around the corner; it might be a holiday event you never thought of working to promote your company and increase business. Knights Luxury Transportation will be providing rides
in Saginaw, Mich., for the Michigan Community Blood Centers for its "Witch Type Are You?" blood drive. As gruesome and ghoulish as this may sound, it's sure to get the local community's attention, as will Knights.
As Jim Luff wrote about in his new October issue article
, "Restaurant Marketing Partnerships Reap Huge Rewards." It appears that another California operator, Ultra Limousine Services, would agree with this perspective. According to an article in The Daily Democrat, Ultra provides transportation to Tazzia Bistro restaurant customers in the town of Woodland, Calif. This allows guests not have to come up with a designated driver, says the restaurant owner. These business relationships are about much more than providing two or three extra rides a month. They can be centers for additional revenue and building even more profitable client relationships through shared customers.
MIND YOUR Ps and Qs: Luff expresses his dismay with poor spelling in society. He cautions on the reflections of the author and the company that fails to spell check. A misspelled street name on a trip ticket could send your chauffeur miles off course if he guesses what you intended.
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MAYBACH MADNESS: The chauffeured saloon, the most expensive, luxurious, and exclusive livery sedan worldwide, debuts at the Paris Auto Show. It may not be the best investment during a recession, but it could work in areas where the rich keep spending regardless of overall circumstances. The Maybach makes the Mercedes S-550 look a bit basic.
On-time performance for U.S. airlines was up - more than a year ago and more than the month before. While it may sound hard to believe, canceled flights are down, too. (Our experience lately has been that early morning flights are on time and afternoon/evening flights get delayed because of cancelations.) Read more in the USA Today travel section
. If you don't believe it, ask FlightView
what they've learned lately.
The credit crisis drove down U.S. auto sales in September - read all about it in this Detroit News piece (a great newspaper to look at regularly to follow the auto industry, by the way). During retail sale downturns, automakers are usually open to making good incentive deals with fleet buyers - this might be a good time for you to make that happen.
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Silicon Valley-based Tesla will be offering a $60,000 five-passenger luxury sedan powered by lithium-ion battery packs. It's part of the company's new $250 million assembly facility where the first sedans are likely to roll off the assembly line in late 2010. The new plant is expected to produce at least 15,000 sedans — up to 30,000 with the addition of a second shift for sale in Europe and the U.S. Read more in BusinessWeek's
HALLOWEEN LIMO CARE: We're not sure if there's such a thing as a Trick-Or-Treat limo run, but a Fall recession is a good time to tune-up vehicles while you can afford it, and get them ready for the long, cold economic and political winter. While Meineke offers these tips becasue it wants your business, you can save money by doing this yourself.
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YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR: In the push to market during a recession, sometimes reverse psychology works best. We came across a blog, not sure exactly whose, that lists seven consequences of renting a cheap limousine or chauffeured service. Operators may want to borrow from this list and remind both steady and prospective clients why pinching pennies on chauffeured transportation leads to costly hassles. -- M.R.
PENNY PINCH TIP: Want to save money for both yourself and clients? Cancel all newspaper subscriptions, except to the Wall Street Journal. Most newspaper print content is available online for free.
JIM LUFF REPORTS: Our operator-editor got fired up while watching his favorite TV show during which a chauffeur was injured in a collision, and they kept referring to him as a "limo driver." What's the difference between the two? Jim reminds all of us why use of the term "limo driver" is an industry faux pas.
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