Event planners know that managing transportation for corporate events is an essential part of the whole event experience. Transportation either primes your attendees for a great time or creates so much aggravation that not even the most luxurious property can make up for it.
In fact, a BostonCoach research study found that 70 percent of attendees at industry events and meetings feel negatively about events in large part because of their travel experience.
How to hire a transportation partner to make sure you create positive feelings about your event? Here are four things to consider.
1. Think about more than vehicles.
A great transportation partner must provide more than cars and drivers. It must be able to handle complete transportation management and delivery. While a door-to-door pickup and drop-off certainly makes an impression, additional services such as airport greeters and luggage handling give your attendees the high-touch treatment they deserve. For example, transportation management of a company golf tournament should include a daily briefing of supervisors and coordinators, who through their interactions with spectators, function as ambassadors at the event since they are often among the first event staff that spectators meet. The staff can help spectators navigate not just the course but their day at the tournament.
2. Expect the unexpected.
Transportation is one of the more challenging aspects of an event. Ask your transportation partner about contingency plans for everything from the weather to security emergencies to traffic to special needs or VIP requests that can require a change in plans. Select a partner with a proven ability to respond to whatever issues surface. In working with a destination management company that produces many sales-incentive events, we faced sudden bad weather, which upended the travel plans of many arriving attendees. To accommodate a spate of real-time changes, we staged additional vehicles on site along with a coordinator to manage the shifting transportation needs of dozens of attendees.
3. Make safety a priority.
Work with a partner that considers the safety of your guests of utmost importance. Vehicles should be impeccably maintained and drivers well-trained. If your partner isn’t providing you with details about its safety policies and training program, ask for them. Our Coach College training program, which exceeds the requirements set by the National Limousine Association, is one piece of a multifaceted curriculum that also includes The Smith System Driver Improvement Training, a proven method of accident prevention that has been successfully employed for more than 40 years.
4. Plan ahead. Share information.
Simply sharing the dates, locations and estimated number of expected guests is helpful. Doing so doesn’t commit you to anything, but it does help your partner highlight issues that should be considered ahead of time. Planning early can help you avoid resource issues, lock in preferential pricing and secure the best of the best in personnel and vehicles. Waiting until the end of August to book transportation in New England during peak foliage season may strain your budget and limit your options.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that just-in-time transportation planning and delivery can’t happen. The transportation partner should be flexible enough to make it happen. Imagine a scenario in which a meeting planner calls on a Friday to arrange transportation for 100 people arriving the following Monday morning. By being flexible in arranging some group, instead of individual, pickups and being open to utilizing different kinds of vehicles, the planner gets her attendees where they need to be, on time, in 30 different rides.
There are so many things that can go wrong with an industry event or intricately choreographed meeting, that relying on a company to help you manage the complex logistics of ground transportation is paramount. After all, an event with attendees who either don’t arrive or show up in an ill-tempered mood has failure written all over it.
Get the consultative and hands-on support you need, and create a great experience that transports guests, in every sense of the word, and makes the journey worth the trip.