Elizabeth Kamalakis of Coachlight Tours joined AMBEST two years ago to take advantage of the Money Saving Fuel Card Program, a partnership between the organization and the United Motorcoach Association.
It was a wise decision, she says.
“We get discounts with fuel when we stop at AMBEST locations, and the drivers like the cards because they’re convenient and easy to use,” Kamalakis said of the fuel cards that are one of many UMA member benefits.
She not only attended her first AMBEST annual meeting, but was invited to speak at the Fleet Panel & Round Table. She represented the industry as a UMA Board Member. AMBEST is a member-owned, nationwide network of independent truck stops and service centers.
How to serve motorcoaches
She fielded questions from the owners of AMBEST locations who are eager to earn the business of motorcoach operators. In response, Kamalakis told the audience that operators like her are looking for places for their coaches to stop so passengers can dine while vehicles are being serviced.
“A lot of them are very interested in developing dumping stations and wash bays and things like that,” said Kamalakis, who is also president of the South Carolina Motorcoach Association. “I gave them an insight into the fact that it may not be the local bus companies that would use those facilities, but buses on long-distance tours that might use those facilities.”
Sylvia Jackson, AMBEST Motorcoach Executive, praised Kamalakis for educating the organization’s members about better ways to serve the motorcoach industry.
“Elizabeth helped so much, and now AMBEST Members have more understanding of the motorcoach industry,” Jackson said.
Sharing useful insights
After the gathering, Jackson said she heard from two AMBEST Travel Centers owners that plan to install bus and motorcoach dumping stations after learning about the need from Kamalakis.
“I would encourage as many UMA members as possible to join AMBEST because they certainly offer a lot of benefits,” Kamalakis said. “When our drivers go up the East Coast corridor, they make a point to stop at one particular exit in Virginia because of the way they have been treated at the service plaza. So it catches on, it really does. At one point Sylvia was there to welcome our drivers and gave them some little presents. They were very encouraged by that.”