Delivering luxury service: Advice from a limo expert

You don’t need to own a limousine to make luxury part of your brand. As motorcoach operators are facing increased competition from limousine companies, Kenneth Lucci will share strategies from their own playbook at Motorcoach EXPO 2020 in Nashville.

“What the limousine companies are trying to do is raise the bar on service in the motorcoach industry,” said Lucci, author of Driving Your Income. “I liken the chauffeur to being a rolling concierge.”

Lucci is the former owner of the Tampa, Florida-based Ambassador Limousines, a business he grew from two vehicles to a fleet of 65. Now an industry consultant, he’ll be sharing his insights during a workshop at Motorcoach EXPO.

Emphasize hospitality

Limousine operators are finding that when their customers need larger vehicles, they still want luxury amenities, from plush interiors to a chauffeur.

“People are paying for a service,” Lucci said. “They’re paying you extra to handle their luggage from door to door, meet them inside the airport, have beverages in the car and know where you’re going.”

He encourages motorcoach companies to put a greater emphasis on customer service and availability.

“The biggest disruption is somebody coming into the industry that’s used to 24/7 and they’re used to speaking in more of a hospitality tone, and they’re used to having those chauffeurs that literally do service delivery instead of just being a safe driver,” Lucci said.

Highlight reliability

There’s a learning curve for limousine operators, as well. Many are shocked at the amount of maintenance required for coaches, along with the myriad federal regulations they must follow. And they aren’t prepared for the higher operational costs that come with owning bigger, more complex vehicles.

“I’ve seen some of my limo clients get into the coach business as an overreaction to Uber and Lyft, and then retreat. I have customers that literally bought four or five coaches only to sell them four years later because of the cost of maintenance,” Lucci said.

He recommends motorcoach operators highlight their reliability. The strength of the motorcoach business is its understanding of vehicle safety and maintenance. It also is well-versed in U.S. Department of Transportation compliance. Lucci suggests motorcoach operators also emphasize fleet size, on-staff mechanics and safety records.

“That will combat the guys who have one or two coaches in the limo business, where you’re actually flexing your muscles as coach operators, saying, ‘They may have two coaches; I have 10 and I’ll never leave you stranded,’” Lucci said.

Selling value

Many people are willing to pay more for the premium service. Lucci’s research shows that 30 percent of the time, cost is not in the top three purchasing considerations when customers are thinking about transportation. It’s fourth behind reliability, comfort and service.

He points to the success of New Jersey-based Academy Bus Lines, “a top-shelf operator” that does line runs and charter service along the Eastern seaboard.

That’s why Lucci, whose former company handled transportation for the New York Yankees in Florida, recommended Academy to the Major League Baseball team when it was looking for an operator to handle logistics closer to home. The Yankees weren’t disappointed, he says.

“Do you think that the New York Yankees are really worried about $5 or $10 extra an hour when you can demonstrate the value of why you’re worth it? I look at companies like Academy, and I’ve studied their website, sales presence and tactics. They’re selling on value, not price,” Lucci said.


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