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The 2012 ILCT Show is Feb. 13-15, 2012 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
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GOOD NEWS: At LCT, we've been noticing this year that the latest recession scare talk and fiscal dramas do not seem to be spooking the limo industry into a contraction as did the meltdown and recession of 2008-2009.
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Entering an unfamiliar meeting room is like leaving a bar when it’s still light outside. Things seem a little too bright, a little overwhelming, a little disconcerting. But the one guiding principle is this: It is your room. For the next 30 seconds to a minute, you are in charge. Here's how to own that room.
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SOLID VEHICLES: Krystal is reporting early interest in the MKT stretch limousine, while at least one operator in Virginia uses the Ford Flex for airport service. Both are roomy and comfortable. But. . . From USA Today: "The Ford Flex is a love-it-or-hate-it design. It's boxy and retro. Arriving in the middle of a recession a few years back didn't help. But outside of California, both Flex and its upscale sister, Lincoln MKT, sell in meager amounts next to mainstream crossovers such as the Chevrolet Traverse and even Ford's own Explorer. Can some refreshes to these two vehicles skyrocket them onto families' radars?" USA Today article here. -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
Taking stock of all that I have in my business and the people who make it possible.
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On the opposite coast, operator Matt Silver used about a dozen limousines to deliver more than 100 turkeys in support of Island Harvest’s Annual Holiday Season Food Drive. Ultimate Class Limousine has had a long history of charitable participation and contribution
“Giving back to the community has always been important to me, and we wanted to help attract some attention to the great work Island Harvest does locally,” said Silver, president of Ultimate Class Limousine. “Our donation is a small part of the effort local hunger relief organizations make year round, and we hope that our participation inspires others to contribute and support their mission.”
Charitable donations, especially during the holidays, are a way for companies and individuals to give back to their communities and lend a helping hand to people in need. Charities can generate a good amount of positive press and show clients and business partners that a company has its heart in the right place.
To learn more about these operations and their charity work, please visit Jackson Limousine Service and Matt Silver’s Ultimate Class Limousine on their respective websites: www.jacksonlimo.com
. -- Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor
FROM USA TODAY:
The second largest newspaper in the U.S. introduces the Lincoln MKT Town Car
to its readership and mentions the limousine business in a straightforward article devoid of any opinions or emotions -- a refreshing change from the speculation in the general automotive press. Regardless of what one thinks of the MKT's shape, IT IS a top-notch, comfortable luxury vehicle that lacks for nothing on the inside. -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
Alan Mullaly, CEO of Ford Motor Co., believes Lincoln will be a “great brand” for the auto giant again. “It has a good reputation. We have a really good plan now to bring out seven new vehicles over the next three or four years that are fully differentiated Lincoln models,” Mullaly, 66, said.
“We absolutely know how to make luxury vehicles,” he added. “We’ve done it in the past. Ford is absolutely committing the resources.”
Among other changes, the 2013 MKS and MKT models sport new design features from the A-pillars forward, pointed out by Lincoln design director Max Wolff during Lincoln’s press conference at the LA Auto Show. “The effort behind the new look was to change the proportion of the MKT from the front view,” Wolff said. “The execution of the new MKT’s grille and the grille bars is a lot more refined and elegant.” Sources: Automotive News; USA Today -- Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor
CAN'T AVOID IT: Whether legally required or not, the nagging costs are an investment in safety.
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LOS ANGELES AUTO SHOW EXTRA:
While Lincoln made a strong debut of a revamped MKT and MKS today, it will take years to turnaround a brand that has seen steadily declining sales since 1990. Los Angles Times Business section article here.
U.K. limo seller and news website Limo Broker Ltd.
has been revealed as the official sponsor of the UK’s largest online beauty contest, Miss Limo
. This year’s pageant which will see one girl plucked from thousands of hopefuls to take home the title of Miss Limo 2012.
The final of the Miss Limo competition will be held at the Celtic Manor Resort,
South Wales, on Jan., 7 2012 as part of the Transport Broker Awards
. The last Miss Limo competition attracted nearly 1,500 entrants. Judging from the response from potential contestants, the event’s organizers believe this year’s contest will be even bigger.
As the official sponsor of the Miss Limo 2012 awards, Limo Broker will crown the winning contestant and present her with a cash prize, an all-expenses paid professional photo shoot, and have a custom website created for the winner to provide a foundation for Miss Limo 2012’s career as a professional model.
The future Miss Limo 2012 also will be the face of a secret project, created in association with Limo Broker, which will be revealed on the night of the final. Very little is known about the new product as all details are being kept tightly under wraps. A brand new Miss Limo website
has been launched in preparation for this year’s upcoming awards ceremony with in depth contestant profiles, high definition images, and video clips from previous awards ceremonies. Source: Limo Broker — Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor
has partnered with Porsche Cars North America
of Atlanta to provide its “High Value Customers” with the Porsche Experience. Delta and Porsche Cars North America have enjoyed good relations since 1984, regularly transporting both Porsche executives and certain Porsche vehicles to and from Stuttgart, Germany to Atlanta. To express its appreciation, Porsche Cars North America generously loaned Delta Airlines a fleet of luxury cars for their disposal.
While Delta is still trying to figure out how best to deploy its new equipment, Delta employees in Atlanta are using Porsche Panamera luxury sedans and Cayenne SUVs for chauffeuring their “High Value Customers,” hoping to surprise and delight them. Source: AutoGuide.com — Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor
It’s time for the official start of the holiday season.
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THE MKT CHALLENGE: Retail sales of the Lincoln MKT dipped in October in a YoY comparison. Of course, that's not the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car limo/livery version, ready to hit streets in Spring 2012. But the crossover-styled vehicle could use some stronger marketing, according to Bullz-Eye.com. The site gave the MKT high marks after a test-drive. That follows this positive take from a Florida auto writer; and follows the most credible testimony of all: A Connecticut operator who has run the vehicle for a year.
Add it up: A solid, high-tech, comfortable car, good performance reviews, but slow retail sales. If the Lincoln MKT were on the singles dating market, it would need to find a way to get beyond the selling points of, "But she has a nice personality," or "He's clean cut and comes from a good family." Hmmmm. How about "Road ready?" "Good under the hood?" "Low maintenance?" "Prepared to pamper?" "Knows how to cook?" OK, I better stop now. -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
So apparently Kim Kardashian lasted 72 days in wedlock before she decided to call it quits with professional basketball player Kris Humphries, formerly of the New Jersey Nets. Celebrity gossip generates obscene amounts of attention and, depending on the circumstances, companies caught in the crossfire between celebs and paparazzi may actually benefit by accidental brand exposure. Look closely at the photo, just to the left of Kim’s head. In case the resolution isn’t high enough or the photo is too small, it says: EmpireCLS
. The photo appeared on celeb-gossip site PerezHilton.com
, which generates close to 2 million unique visitors a month (source: Compete.com), the type of exposure that brands often pay hundreds of thousands for. Empire CLS
got it for free.
Lesson: Operators should think about strategic public relations practices to expose their brands to the public eye. This can include charity work, high profile clientele, or community activism — anything that will attract positive media attention. The key is to be subtle and focus on providing reliable, professional service to your clients. Who knows who saw this photo? Other celebrities might need luxury transportation some day and might call up Kim or Kris to review their experience. All it takes is for them to convey they felt safe, comfortable, and relaxed in spite of the turmoil surrounding them. And that can only be good for operations such as EmpireCLS. — Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor
EXPOSED: Illegal operators like this huckster in Rhode Island featured on a TV report not only undercut legitimate operators but tarnish the image of the chauffeured transportation industry, not to mention risking the safety of passengers. It proves why strong regulations are needed, and how the media can provide a worthwhile public service via exposes. -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
Limo letdown for bride and groom: wpri.com
If you don’t want people to call you, don’t put your name in the book!
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The double-decker mega-trailer pictured here is a 1,000-square-foot, 30-ton “mobile estate” for star actor Ashton Kutcher to use while filming on the set of the Emmy-winning TV show “Two and a Half Men.” It comes complete with seven 60-inch 3-D plasma TVs, a conference area, two bathrooms and a full kitchen.
Legendary NFL coach and sportscaster John Madden travels around in “The Madden Cruiser IV”, an MCI E4500 sporting three plasma televisions, a queen-sized bed, steam shower, sauna, high-speed Internet access and a generator big enough to power a 5,000-square-foot house.
Other celebrities who enjoy their own big luxury buses are Justin Bieber, Whoopi Goldberg, rap artist T.I., Dolly Parton, and of course, President Obama, whose all-black $1.1 million motorcoach likely has state-of-the art amenities that we aren’t even allowed to imagine because they’re classified (and taxpayer-funded).
-- Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor
WEDDING DAY FIASCO:
The wedding party whose stretch limousine burned out while heading up a California mountainside recently lashed out and named in a newspaper column the Bay Area company and operator that owns the limo. Members of the chafffeured transportation industry will recognize the name. -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor