There’s much to see at the 2024 UMA Motorcoach EXPO in Raleigh, NC. Fortunately, you can count on a team of reporters and social media influencers to bring you the highlights.
European journalists Magne Håheim and Tom Terjesen, who covered the many happenings of the 2022 and 2023 UMA Motorcoach EXPOs for the audience of their Norwegian bus-focused publication, Bussmagasinet, will also be covering the 2024 UMA EXPO. They have a very popular website and YouTube channel.
Bus & Motorcoach News Editor Shandra Martinez is teaming up again with Terrapin Blue. This video and photography team is led by Ryan and Jill Kelly, and is rounded out by the talents of Benson Greene and Shaun Cleary.
Last year, we invited popular industry YouTuber and bus geek James Wang to share the EXPO experience on his popular channel. That experiment went so well, Bus & Motorcoach News invited even more social media influencers to cover EXPO this year.
There also will be expanded coverage from industry social media influencers, who are all bus drivers. They include Wang, Rachel “Rai” Greenwell, Jack Kaufman, Braden Lewis and Sean O’Meara.
They’ll be using the hashtags — #UMA #UMAEXPO #UMAEXPO2024 — so you can follow their coverage:
Canadian Sean O’Meara, 31, works to spread his love of the industry on his Instagram handle, @shamrksean, and Shamrock Sean on Youtube. He served as the spokesman for the driver recruitment social media campaign “Why I Drive,” launched by ABC Companies in 2019. Raised around charter vehicles and limousines, O’Meara believes he was destined to be behind the wheel of a bus.
“My parents drove part time to make ends meet and instilled in me what a top-drawer, white-glove service is all about. I have used social media to break down barriers in seated coach and entertainer coach markets to rebrand what people view as trustworthy operators. I now own a small business in recovery from the pandemic, and I’m excited to be back in the industry that quite literally helped save my life. Motorcoach driving is an overlooked career for many that offers fulfillment, the ability to serve the common good, and the ability to travel without the expense,” O’Meara said.
He adds that he believes he fills an important role representing the Canadian motorcoach industry at EXPO.
“I am excited to attend the EXPO as an influencer because it’s the first opportunity to be “back to normal,” promoting the possibilities of the industry to a whole new generation of drivers, owners, sales reps or mechanical experts. Canada has a much smaller imprint in the seated coach world outside of manufacturing, and I’m eager to shed light on the shortages of labor, and the possibilities for prospective new hires. Buses and busing are the least boring they’ve been in history, and the key to success for many is awaiting them in the ignition … they just don’t know it yet,” O’Meara said.
Thousands follow James Wang’s videos on YouTube.com/motorcoachworld, www.patreon.com/motorcoach and www.facebook.com/motorcoachworld. In fact, Peoria Charter, the Illinois company where he’s the operations director and part owner (and driver, when he can fit it into the schedule) has benefited from his growing social media influence with an influx of job applicants who are eager to work with Wang.
So, where does Wang’s love of buses come from? “Since the age of 2, I started mimicking the noises of the buses that passed by my house in China. My parents thought it was just a phase, but the love of buses never left me,” said Wang, who at 39, still mimicks the noises of buses. “Except now, I express my love of these giant boxes on wheels on YouTube for all to share. I’ve made my hobby my career. I have the best job in the world.”
He adds that he loves EXPO because he gets to spend time in a “giant room packed full of shiny new buses and all the accessories that go with them, and on top of that, all the bus nuts, geeks and enthusiasts will be there as well.”
Rachel ‘Rai’ Greenwell
Rachel “Rai” Greenwell is a driver with Eagle Christian Tours in Rome, Georgia. She likes to share her driving experience on social media, especially with humorous skits.
Being a professional motorcoach driver checks all the boxes for Greenwell.
“I love traveling, I love people, and I love to smile and laugh and make others smile and laugh. Driving a motorcoach is one of the best feelings; it feels like you’re on top of the world. And as a woman in the industry, it feels great to make a great impression,” she said.
For the second year in a row, Greenwell is bringing her style of humorous storytelling to the social media coverage of the 2024 UMA Motorcoach EXPO.
“I am so excited to meet all the faces that support my online content and make connections. I am looking forward to meeting everyone here!” she said.
Bus brothers team up
Bus brothers Jack Kaufman and Braden Lewis are teaming up again to cover the 2024 UMA Motorcoach EXPO. While they have attended many EXPOs over the years, they are looking forward to sharing what they see with their Facebook Group, Motorcoach Operators with more than 8,000 members. Kaufman also posts on TikTok under @JustJK95.
Kaufman is the Vice President and Co-Owner at Timi’s Tours in Central Illinois, a rapidly growing, innovative company. He’s had a passion for motorcoaches and all things with big tires since he was a young child.
“I love innovation, and seeing the industry transform to the newest and best technology,” said Kaufman, who’s a dedicated civil servant in his community, serving as both a volunteer firefighter EMT and recently appointed member of Moweaqua Village Council.
Braden Lewis is only 21 and already has had a long career in the motorcoach business. He describes himself as a “true bus enthusiast. Rumor has it I was born on a bus, but I’ve been around our family’s coaches since before I could walk. I love the feeling of operating such a big piece of equipment with many happy passengers on board.”
Lewis, who represents the fourth generation of Lewis Coaches in New Orleans, continues to play a role in ensuring the survival of his family business and the motorcoach industry. While attending college and maintaining an impressive grade-point average, he continues to work nearly every day as the operations director of Lewis Coaches, chronicling his bus life on Facebook.
“I’m excited to be at EXPO as a social media influencer to meet new industry friends and promote our industry to the youth, and hopefully gain more interest for our industry to curb the staffing shortages we all face,” he said.