Charter operator Busozene, based in Lehigh Acres, Fla., has employed a unique design on its 45-passenger motorcoach: a white limousine painted on the side of the black coach.
This optical illusion not only calls attention to the coach, it requires a double, or triple take, which is great for the company’s branding.
Read more about the Busozene coach here: Double take: ‘Limo’ bus worth a second look
— Michael Campos, LCT associate editor
FROM LIMO TO BUS: In a sure sign of how much the limousine industry has changed, North Carolina operator H.A. Thompson reports why his company kissed its last stretch limousine good-bye after 27 years in business.
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A new tour bus venture, Hangover Heaven, has hit the Las Vegas strip with the intention of helping tourists stay on their feet and keep the party going. With stops at the Hard Rock Hotel, Paris, Bellagio and Cosmopolitan, Hangover Heaven will treat clients with an IV designed to cure a hangover in less than 45 minutes. Company founder Dr. Jason Burke studied anesthesiology at Duke University. The company will treat clients onboard their special bus or send a doctor to a client’s room for treatment. Visit http://hangoverheaven.com/ for more information. — Michael Campos, LCT associate editor
Tired of dealing with all the hassles of the airlines but still want the luxury of a first-class seat on a trip? Thinking about riding in a bus but want to maintain your privacy?
We’ve seen how motorcoaches have been constantly evolving to include more passenger amenities such as LCD TV screens and free Wi-Fi Internet, but what about different classes of seating arrangements based on ticket price, such as in airplanes?
One company based out of Osaka, Japan, has done just that with its luxurious first-class seats.
WILLER TRAVEL, INC’s Express Cocoon service, which runs between Osaka and Tokyo, seats its passengers in SELF-CONTAINED MODULES that are angled toward the central aisle and are partially enclosed by a rounded partition. The seats recline 140 degrees and include a padded footrest, a personal TV screen offering Video-On-Demand mounted above a fixed table, and of course, each passenger enjoys free Wi-Fi Internet access.
Each Cocoon bus has just 12 seats and only 2 seats per row, meaning each seat is a window seat. Willer Travel, Inc. also offers various other types of SEATING ON THEIR BUSES. -- Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor
WHAT NOW? In today’s information age, everything has the ability to go viral in an instant, especially fatal bus crashes which can decimate a business like never before. It’s even possible for clients to shoot quickie-videos of employees behaving inappropriately, such as using their cell phones while driving or being rude to clients. “As a bus operator, you may become the face of the industry when something bad happens,” Media Consultant Group President and CEO Eron Shosteck writes in the introduction of the new 20-page step-by-step guide.
For this reason, good communications and PR are vital to every operation. Companies need to know how to protect their reputation as well as turn any type of media coverage, whether positive or negative, into an opportunity to display their safety compliance and customer-centric service.
When a charter bus company uses alternative fueled vehicles and adopts an emissions reduction plan, it becomes the greenest transportation company possible
, given the simple economies of scale of motorcoaches.
FEDERAL CHARTER RULE:
A court struck down an amendment from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. yesterday that blatantly favored the taxpayer-subsidzied, union-employed public transit system over a more efficient private charter bus company for providing sports fan shuttle service. The Seattle area is ground zero
for the battle over the application of the federal charter rule. With small to medium size businesses under attack from a revenue-hungry public sector, the charter rule victory is one to be celebrated. -- M.R.
TARGETED MARKETING: Has helped Atlantic City casino companies go after customers who bring the most revenue, and discourage the busloads of day-trippers.
LOCAL GEMS: Every corner of America has attractions that can become destinations for bus tours or mini-bus tours. In this rural Alabama County, tourism organizers have made the most of more PERMANENT FIXTURES.
CLEAN & GREEN: The American Bus Association reminds everyone today what being green really means. After 40 years of Earth Days, let's dedicate this day to making the world greener by fueling prosperity, i.e. green money in your pocket. How about tax cuts and exemptions for the motorcoach and chauffeured transportation industries -- the real green movers on the planet? Now that would be an Earth Day event worth celebrating.
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PROFILE IN PROGRESS:
The owner of COMPASS COACH
in Cedar Springs, Mich. has seen revenue growth by milking the markets for charter buses full of gamblers to casinos, college students on tours, and high-end luxury travel for weddings and other fancy celebrations, according to a recent profile in the The Grand Rapids Press newspaper
Technology can help a fleet stay up to date and span the generations of clients, as this Indiana operator shows
HOW MANY WOULD USE? The NHTSA's recommendation for mandatory seatbelts on motorcoaches gets a mixed reaction in one Pennsyvlania city. At issue is the expense for operators, the usage among passengers, and the need to reduce motorcoach accident deaths and injuries.
MORE REGS NEEDED?
What are the leading causes and factors of motorcoach-related crashes? 2004, 2005, and 2008 were three of the highest five years in terms of motorcoach passenger and driver fatalities during 1991-2008. Greyhound is taking a CLOSER LOOK. MOTORCOACH ACTION SAFETY PLAN.
SAFETY FIRST: Whether seat belts are required on motorcoaches or not, the charter and bus industry provides some of the safest transportation available when you compare the number of deaths with overall miles traveled. But when there is an accident. . .
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NEW RULES: The issue of whether to add seatbelts to motorcoaches in the wake of deadly crashes seems to be coming to a head -- and with big headlines -- as the Department of Transportation issues new rules. . .
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MOTORCOACH SAFETY RULES: The daughter of a woman who died in the 2008 Sherman, Texas motorcoach crash talks back to Peter Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association, in THIS LETTER TO THE EDITOR. It highlights the challenges for the charter and tour industry as a handful of high profile crashes spur calls for more safety measures and regulations.
MAKING THE MOST OF MOTORCOACHES & MINI-BUSES:
While retail forecasts for this holiday shopping season do not look robust, consumers are likely to be open to value-oriented experiences. Charter and tour companies are offering holiday and historical themed LOCAL EXCURSIONS
that can appeal to travelers avoiding vacations
this year. The concept can work as well for chauffeured transportation operators with mini-buses ideal for smaller-scale tours. -- M.R.
ALL AGES NOW: Gone are the days when motorcoach transportation was associated primarily with seniors groups, school groups, and Greyhound bus travel.
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WOULD THIS WORK? One New Jersey township is considering A THOUGHTFUL APPROACH to prom night:
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The ballyhooed economic recovery looks increasingly like a hockey stick; thanks to a failed porky stimulus package and higher taxes that will lower the value of U.S. currency and exacerbate inflationary risks -- while continuing to spook consumers into saving and pinching even more. LATEST OUTLOOK ON BUSINESS TRAVEL
at least shows no more decline, but not nearly enough growth to warrant a sigh of relief. All the more reason for operators to diversify and grab hold of the growing motorcoach and mini-bus market segments. -- M.R.
DUMB ON THE ROAD: SHOCK VIDEO HERE. This is not exactly the type of publicity that helps the charter and tour and chauffeured transportation industries, let alone the company and NLA member that operates and employs the driver. In fairness to the company, no operator can control every chauffeur or driver at all times, and every company invariably will get an employee who turns out to be a dud. The driver in the video has been put on leave.
But one strong selling point for both transportation segments is SAFETY. It's one of the main things that distinguishes chartered buses and black vehicles from public transit and taxi cabs. There have been too many mass transport accidents in recent years. Talking and texting on cell phones while driving LEADS TO THIS. -- M.R.
Temecula Valley Wine Country has new rules in place designed to deter drunken booze cruises with limousines. Limousine and charter companies are being asked to hand out pamphlets with guidelines and to contact the wineries in advance when they will be bringing groups of ten or larger. The wineries themselves are working with the limousine companies to eliminate drunken patrons. Establishing this type of criteria should be embraced by every limousine company across the country. In previous years, there have been movements to eliminate busing patrons into wineries. As an industry, we need to take a proactive approach to keep this revenue stream available to us. Every state in the country now has wineries
USA TODAY REPORT:
Sapped school budgets nationwide are forcing school sports teams to cut back on motorcoach transportation
, hurting one of the bread-n-butter markets for bus operators.
YEAR OF THE STAYCATION: THIS COMPANY
is making the most of the recession and its local tourist attractions. Day-trip bus tours can fit many a squeezed travel budget and make the most efficient use of group transportation. The next variant of the staycation is the "closecation" -- traveling within 100 miles of home for a one-night stay to take day tours. Operators anecdotally report seeing success with such tour packages/offerings. -- M.R.
YOU DON’T GET STUCK IN A LIMO, A VAN, OR A BUS: If you must be confined in a tube-shaped vehicle with other people, would you rather have the option to “de-bus” immediately, or “de-plane” when the FAA says you can — many hours later?
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SEPTEMBER Limousine Charter & Tour:
Downsizing may be the buzzword of this economy, but for ground transportation, “upsizing” with more people saves the most money for clients and brings in the most bucks for operators. AS THIS MEGA-BUS SERVICE
shows, the biggest buses of them all — double-deckers — stack the most potential for healthy business — whether for mass transport, sightseeing, or partying. More on double-deckers in the September issue of LCT Magazine.
As non-profits reel from diminished donations, fund-raising must turn more aggressive and frequent. What better way to find a fun, local, and cost-effective way to get attention and raise money THAN THIS LIMO BUS APPROACH?
As commuter air service dwindles and consumers look for more economical transportation, rural towns and counties can be fertile ground for motorcoach or shuttle bus services, as this example shows
. Out-of-the-way locations also can become attractive destinations
for charter tour buses full of vacationers, which can boost local tourism and economies. Of course, mid-sized cities promoting special historical events provide ample bus opportunities
as well. -- M.R.
Motorcoach operators facing fines have formed new companies
to avoid penalties and bad reputation. Another article here
BUSES OF ALL SIZES:
Appear to be thriving in this recession
, as numerous operators have told us. Combined with innovation and new markets, mini-buses, vans, shuttles, and motorcoaches are redefining the limousine industry. More about this in the bus/van (September) issue of LCT Magazine. -- M.R.
IN ALL WAYS EXCEPT ONE:
Time for long distance travel. But within a few hundred miles, the time differences are likley negligible. THIS SUMMARY
describes how charter bus travel excels in every possible way. If you’ve got the time, why bother with security checks, tight seats, small windows, long lines, and delays? -- M.R.
This charter and tour operator
is showing the intiative needed
to market and promote in the Internet era; chauffeured transportation and charter/tour operators alike should sponsor either an in-house or contracted company BLOG
, preferably one with an enterprising "travel character" such as "Lady Limelight." -- M.R.
Whether a regional tour or a staycation arrangement, the recession provides ample opportunities for operators to promote simple and economical charter bus tour packages. The creative possibilities are endless, as THIS CHARTER TRIP REVIEW
shows. And as younger professionals embrace motorcoach travel, at least on the commuter front, the notion of a charter bus tour being a seniors-only activity is rapidly falling away. If this recession pushes more people toward chauffeured and charter transportation, then the silver lining will be apparent. -- M.R.
Limousine, CHARTER & TOUR: Emphasis on the C&T. One of the most promising market opportunities across chauffeured and chartered transportation lies with motorcoach and/or mini bus service, as. . . .
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The National Transportation Safety Board has called upon
the heads of the American Bus Association
and the United Motorcoach Association
to upgrade their safety plans and procedures
in the event of motorcoach crashes in remote areas.
Nothing new here, but at least a reaffirmation that comfortable, safe, quality group ground transportation has a bright future, regardless of immediate economic concerns. Both greener vehicle engines along with the promotion of group luxury travel as a green concept capture the potential of both the chauffeured and charter transportation industries. . .
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GOOD REGULATION: The NTSB has decided to require seat belts on commercial motorcoach buses, a long overdue regulation following a string of deadly U.S. bus crashes in recent years. With almost as many people riding in motorcoaches as in planes, this measure is a no-brainer. The only difference between motorcoach and airplane seatbelt rules is that on a plane, passengers must wear them when told; on a motorcoach, it would be optional. Is that because seat belt use is impossible to enforce on a motorcoach (no flight attendants)? But then some states require motorists to wear seatbelts in front auto seats, so why not on buses? -- M.R.
CHARTER BUS CRASHES:
In response to some high profile bus crashes, the California Assembly has passed a "safety bill."
That's progress, but there's no mention of passenger seat belts for motorcoaches. Isn't that the real issue? -- M.R.
Orion Pacific, the Orange, Calif.,-based charter and tour operator involved in the deadly Monterey County, Calif., bus crash this week, drew high ratings for its inspections and safety compliance
, according to D.O.T. records.
ANOTHER DEADLY BUS CRASH: If planes are statistically safer than all forms of ground transportation, yet hyper-vigilant about wearing seat belts, why not motorcoaches as well, which have higher passenger injury and death rates than planes? The latest motorcoach rollover in California keeps the issue out front. . .
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One school system in Rhode Island is requiring junior prom-goers to take scheduled charter buses
to the prom. This has resulted in limo cancellations. As Limousine, Charter & Tour, we really can't take sides on this one. It's just painful to watch. All the more reason for chauffeured transportation operators to also offer motorcoach access.
WHERE TO PARK? The influx of motorcoaches into cities often creates traffic hassles; where do you park all the motorcoaches that bring in day trippers, shoppers, commuters, and people willing to spend money? The cities of Alexandria, Va. and New York's West Side of Manhattan are facing this dilemma. The motorcoach trend is one that should be encouraged and embraced; after all it takes cars off the road and carbon out of the air. So cities would be wise to invest in motorcoach parking lots and/or flexible waiting/parking rules. With growing pressure for more efficient transportation during a recession, governments and authorities need to lay the groundwork for motorcoach growth. -- M.R.
NEW JERSEY LEADS THE WAY?
Pressure is mounting in the Garden State to cut the dreaded tourism tax on motorcoaches
. Excellent idea. Now, how about creating some real stimulus for the chauffeured and charter transportation industries by replicating that concept for limousines, sedans, mini-buses, SUVs -- basically all luxury-based chauffeured transportation, and then applying it in all 50 states? While they're at it, governments can cut tourism, sales, AND corporate business taxes on transportation. Now, that would be some stimulus worthy of some hope and extra change without bailing anyone out! -- M.R.
SAFETY ISSUE: While motorcoaches, like airplanes, statistically rank among the safest modes of travel, charter bus accidents, like plane crashes, get so much media attention that they create fearful misperceptions that lead people to think they are safer driving their own cars. Now, efforts are underway to require seatbelts on motorcoaches. While motorcoaches will remain a safer mode of travel with or without seatbelts, it's not a bad idea since airplanes require them as well. -- M.R.
LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR:
No better way to explain it than with this example.
The term "LimoLiner.com" best sums up the direction of the industry to larger group vehicles with limousine services that are advertised and booked online.
The May issue of LCT Magazine will feature one medium-sized operator who would have never thought about going into motorcoach service this time last year.
Now he's about to buy his fourth motorcoach, while his stretch limo fleet has fallen from seven to one.
PRICE POINTS: Reston Limousine had these EYE-OPENING charter bus trip rates published in one of its local papers, the Fairfax Times:
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Here's the latest on LCT's website LCTmag.com:
-Three new important industry channel pages are starting up: Finance & Insurance, Technology, and Driving Green, and more are in the works.
-eTrader will soon be added, and is a great place to purchase and market chauffeured transportation vehicles.
-Visit the website for daily news (especially on Wednesday when the weekly Driving Force e-newsletter goes out, and which has been getting really good in the past month) and regular feature article additions.
-Take the Web Poll and give LCT timely feedback on industry issues of great concern.
-Ask Dr. Limo to cure fleet maintenance and repair problems giving you a headache.
-See photos from LCT events (some cool ones from the Vegas show are up now) and links to all of these exciting upcoming destinations.
-A section on LimoCentric (which you should know something about, being here now).
-Links to important industry associations for chauffeured transportation and charter and tour operators (recently added).
Some of this you can see now
, some will be taking shape soon. -- Jon LeSage