BusRates.com Inc., the national portal that connects motorcoach and luxury transportation services directly with the consumer, has announced a partnership with On Your Mark Transportation LLC to increase marketing efforts. The Nashville consulting firm specializes in the ground passenger transportation industries.
“It is truly an honor to be chosen by BusRates.com Inc., to increase its market awareness to both the consumer as well as the industry itself,” said Mark L. Szyperski, President and CEO of On Your Mark Transportation. “This unique portal is so important to connect companies with consumers across the United States and Canada.”
The portal launched in 2004 and was brought under the United Motorcoach Association banner in 2011. The website was developed as a place for consumers looking for qualified ground transportation to get quotes directly for service from the provider itself, allowing them to avoid a middleman, such as a bus broker.
A ground transportation provider can place its information into a profile on the BusRates.com portal so that when a customer, for example, in California, is looking for a motorcoach company in Nashville or Chicago, they will be directly connected with that company to get quotes and information. Then, if they choose that company, they can communicate directly with them for pickup, payment and other important information, without going through a third party.
Similar to hotels.com
Larry Killingsworth, former UMA President/CEO, described BusRates.com as a sort of hotels.com for ground transportation.
“If you want to move a school group of some kind to Alabama for a day trip, for example, we would be a great site to come to,” he said. “You could put in your trip specs, and the site would provide your motorcoach company choices. The consumer can read about each company and choose to get quotes from any of them. Those companies will, in turn, get back to the consumer with a quote.”
The problem with working through a third party, he said, is that the consumer is not getting information directly from the company they are hiring. If you search for bus rentals in a particular city, sites may pop up. But when those links take you to a broker, that third party is just taking your information, farming it out to bus companies and taking a cut for themselves.
“They are acting as an unnecessary middle person, and, at times, some are disreputable,” he added.
Not only does BusRates.com benefit the consumer, but it also benefits motorcoach operators, Killingsworth said.
“Motorcoach operators can use the site to reach out to consumers in new ways and attract new customers they might not otherwise get,” he said.
Much of the motorcoach and ground transportation industry consists of small private operators with a small number of buses or limos, for example. Advertising and gaining new customers can be especially difficult for these businesses.
“As a nonprofit, our role at UMA is to help these businesses be successful, and one way we can do that is through BusRates.com, where we can provide them with useful quote requests through the marketplace,” he said.
BusRates best practices
One thing these businesses need to remember, Killingsworth said is to respond to requests for quotes in a timely manner. Customers expect near-instant responses, and small businesses should be aware that even contacting the customer to let them know you’ll work up a quote is important.
“And don’t respond in industry lingo,” he said. “The customer just wants safe, dependable travel.”
Roxana Melgar, BusRates general manager, said businesses should reach out to potential clients to make sure they understand their needs and then deliver clear proposals.
Any passenger ground transportation company can sign up with BusRates.com by going to the portal and filling out the information form on the website. This profile page is what the consumer will see directly when doing a search locally or nationwide for passenger ground transportation services. A company can list information such as number of pieces of equipment, types (motorcoach, school bus, mini-coach, limousine) and other items they feel may be important to the client. The client then puts in their search requirements (location, type of equipment, etc.) and the site pulls up those companies that meet that criteria. Then the consumer can reach out directly to the provider for additional information.
“This system is so important to our industry,” said Szyperski. “It allows for every passenger ground transportation provider to have international marketing abilities through web searches. It will be my team’s objective to get that message out to both providers and consumers through various marketing programs, including social media, videos and press media, to name a few.”
BusRates.com partners with Web FX for search engine optimization and United Bus Technology for optimizing the website. The site is updated and user friendly, and they’ve seen more than a doubling of requests for quotes in 2021, as the market has recovered since the COVID pandemic, Killingsworth says.