Trailways Transportation sets course for 2022 and beyond

Amy Brooks is the first female Board Chair in Trailways Transportation’s 85-year history. She isn’t wasting any time making the most of this milestone, and her appointment is one of many changes taking place at Trailways.

Brooks is overseeing initiatives to position the organization to better serve members, from adding a cloud-based charter lead-generation system to its bus ticket web platform this year to launching a new customer service training program for drivers. 

She believes the new focus “will lead to greater growth for current members and help attract operators who never thought of becoming Trailways members until now.” 


Susquehanna VP

Brooks, Vice President of Sales for Susquehanna Trailways in Avis, Pennsylvania, succeeds Patrick Dean, Vice President of Dean Transportation in Lansing, Michigan. Dean remains on the board. 

While Brooks’ new role is historic for Trailways, female leadership isn’t new for the organization. Gale Ellsworth was president of the organization for 17 years before retiring in 2015.

A Trailways board member since 2019, Brooks has a 40-year career with Susquehanna Trailways, a third-generation, family-owned motorcoach company. 

Brooks first worked at Susquehanna after college. She answered phones for eight months before leaving to attend graduate school at Eastern Illinois University’s College of Business and Technology. When she returned to her hometown and rejoined Susquehanna in 1981, she conceptualized the company’s first digital tour reservation tracking system, which improved operations and customer satisfaction. She grew sales and rose through the ranks.

When she joined the team, Susquehanna was a school bus operator with three charter coaches. 

“Today, we have 30 coaches,” Brooks said. “We became a Trailways member in 1982. My boss, Carl Kephart Jr., told me he was considering joining Trailways and asked me what I thought. Adding Trailways to the end of Susquehanna’s name added instant familiarity, credibility and respectability in the travel marketplace.”

Brooks has played a key role in building technology solutions at her company and knows how new digital solutions will help Trailways and stockholders’ bus businesses grow. 

A mobile future

That’s why she believes Trailways’ future is mobile in more ways than one. 

The goal, she says, is for “ to become the one-stop shop for anything travel, whether a customer wants to purchase a bus ticket to a city destination or book a charter for a group trip or tour.” 

Trailways established a new marketing division in 2019, focusing solely on digital growth innovation for the brand, naming Alexander Berardi as President and launching an online ticket sales website for affiliated and other carriers that same year. 

Berardi manages the day-to-day operations of the comprehensive website and is supported by a dedicated team responsible for 24/7 monitoring of website booking transactions, customer service and implementing cutting-edge digital marketing strategies targeting consumers both at the regional level and on a national scale. 

Trailways’ online ticket sales website connects with several software platforms and related interconnected line-run carriers to support easier city-to-city online booking and offers first-of-its-kind digital features, such as ticket rescheduling. The website also takes care of regulatory compliance for Trailway members’ system bookings by meeting Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) and Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliance.

The platform also connects to Trailways’ Driven Rewards, a frequent traveler reward program heavily promoted via the site and in passenger email correspondence.  

Lead-generation platform

The organization is doing beta testing now on an exclusive, cloud-based charter lead-generation software platform by Busie to bring the quoting and booking process online and help stockholders grow and manage charters. 

“Charter is an important part of every operator’s business — even for line-run carriers who need to keep their coaches out earning revenue at every chance they get,” said Berardi. “And it makes sense for us to have the best technology for charter, as we do for line-run.”

A big frustration for most industry operators is the time it takes to bid on the charter business versus what really gets booked. Trailways’ new Busie charter sales platform can change that by giving carriers a more efficient system to increase charter sales and streamline the process.

“Having one central Trailways system to track and capture charter opportunities lets individual member carriers spend more time selling, and less time calculating quotes,”  said Louis Bookoff, co-founder and CEO at Busie.

Now being tested with the organization’s seven largest carriers, the Busie system gives operators pricing capabilities that allow them to tweak estimates based on market conditions, such as fuel prices, required seating capacities, fleet availability or other variables. 

The secret to the organization’s success is that it is made up of a community of hard-working, entrepreneurial family-owned businesses that drive and own the equipment. And even in this digital age, providing a personal touch to service, with an emphasis on passenger safety and comfort, remain the cornerstones to the Trailways brand.  

New training system

Trailways has also launched a new online Learning Management System (LMS), a five-course program to help drivers systemwide deliver a superior customer service and safety experience. Modeled on the comprehensive training Disney offers its “cast member” employees, Trailways’ new program incorporates key elements required to achieve a high rate of returning customers.

The courses cover how Trailways endeavors to make every interaction with customers polite, pleasant and stress-free, while explaining the system’s longtime history, core brand values and company identity. Other topics include conflict resolution skills, along with driver, passenger and vehicle safety protocols. 

The courses also standardize Trailways’ customer service procedures, assuring that each passenger traveling with a Trailways operator will be treated in the same manner everywhere and at all times. 

“This training advances Trailways’ very own style of quality service,” said Brooks.


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