Providing Great Transportation for Groups without Breaking the Bank
Paid Post By Beth Buehler
Being smart about booking meeting and event group transportation impacts both the gathering’s budget and guests’ feedback when it’s all over. Making it as seamless as possible for attendees, speakers and VIPs doesn’t have to be expensive when working with a reputable transportation company. Destination Colorado connected with Jorge Sanchez, president and CEO of Denver-based Hermes Worldwide, Inc. about providing great transportation for groups without breaking the bank. Here are six tips.
The value of experienced greeter services
At first glance, it may seem like eliminating this line item would help keep a budget in check. In reality, it allows planners and their transportation providers to group passengers not on the same flight in a coordinated manner. This is especially important when the airport is large with many touch points for incoming attendees, like Denver International Airport. However, it is a nice gesture at regional airports like Eagle County Regional Airport and Colorado Springs Airport as well.
A greeter service provides guests with a personal escort to awaiting vehicles. “The cost of a well-coordinated greeter service is peanuts compared to an overall event budget,” Sanchez says. “To save costs, often clients don’t hire enough greeters, which can leave passengers lost or unattended. They end up taking alternative transportation, leading to frustration and a poor experience to start the meeting or event.”
Hire one reputable transportation supplier
It’s stressful for the planning team and inefficient financially to manage numerous transportation suppliers. Instead, hire one supplier that has a solid reputation and a decent-sized fleet of small, medium and large vehicles to manage a program.
Check Google reviews and ask for referrals. “We have many hotels, meeting planners, executive administrators, and destination management companies who can provide testimonials regarding our service and fleet of vehicles,” Sanchez confirms.
Strategically group passengers
Save on outbound transportation by grouping passengers whose flights depart within two to three hours of each other. “The window is dependent on your passengers and if they are VIPs with hectic schedules,” Sanchez says. “Also, don’t try to save on the inbound flights. Early and late flights can wreak havoc on the most well-planned itineraries.”
For example, two flights that are scheduled to arrive within 10 minutes of each other can quickly turn into a 45+ minute wait for the first arrival. “Instead, you can easily save the budget by transporting passengers in larger Sprinter vans or coaches versus using smaller vehicles to minimize wait time and frustration for attendees,” he adds.
Have a dedicated standby vehicle
Ever have an unexpected attendee arrive who is not on the manifest only to realize you have no extra room in scheduled vehicles? Or flight schedules that result in too many passengers for a specific timeframe? What about a VIP or speaker who ends up needing an alternate itinerary?
“A standby vehicle helps solve all of these issues in an efficient fashion and provides a great experience because you are able to adapt immediately on the fly,” Sanchez suggests.
Handling event transportation is much more than just providing a vehicle and a capable driver. Here are some questions to consider.
- Does the transportation supplier consider how to handle a situation where no contact has been made with a passenger?
- What about parking and passenger loading for off-site events and parking passes?
- Do they know how to handle VIPs or celebrities? “There is nothing worse than someone being starstruck, wanting to take photos of who they are transporting, and posting all over social media,” Sanchez emphasizes.
- Are they capable of handling overflow and providing support for a flight that is delayed three hours and is now arriving at 2:00 a.m.?
- Can they handle the entire event or is their capacity limited, requiring you to manage multiple transportation suppliers?
Hermes Worldwide has managed more than 1,000 events and frequently group transportation from Denver to mountain destinations during warm months and ski season. With the recent acquisition of Aspen Limo Services, Hermes also now has an office in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Look for a dedicated events team and easy-to-use process
It’s extremely helpful to have a single point of contact for setting up transportation details and securing support when a program is underway. Look for 24-hour service offered seven days a week, 365 days of the year, where there is immediate assistance for early morning departures or late arrivals versus a call center that has to wake up a manager on duty. Plus, a dedicated events team can advise planners regarding the most cost-effective transportation options based on their specific needs.
Also, do they have helpful tools and easy-to-use processes? For example, the Hermes Meeting Pad app provides real-time status updates so a meeting planner can monitor the progress of transportation, including seeing the assigned chauffeurs, tracking the vehicles and checking individual trip details.
These six group transportation tips should prove helpful in providing great travel experiences for groups without breaking the bank when meeting in Colorado or anywhere around the globe.
Photos courtesy of Hermes Worldwide, Inc.
Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 17 years and helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine in 2013. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.