Motorcoach transportation is a critical component of any group tour. It’s important to choose the right charter operator to ensure your trip is a success. Michael Giddens, general manager from Pacific Coachways, shares motorcoach trends and a few helpful hints for finding a quality motorcoach partner to transport your group in a snap.
What is new the world of motorcoaches?
Tour operators will be interested to know the motorcoach industry is the safest form of ground transportation available. While being safe isn’t actually new, safety has been improving consistently. Passenger seatbelts, improved bus construction, collision mitigation and stability technology, and fire suppression systems have all helped improve bus safety. These items combined with improved driver training and maintenance management programs ensure that passengers won’t be concerned with their safety and their motorcoach experience will be excellent.
Additionally, the quality and comfort of motorcoaches has vastly improved over the last several years. From more comfortable seats and improved leg room to more visually appealing interiors, the experience of riding the bus is a whole new experience. On-board amenities have also been expanded with many coaches offering features such as power outlets, Wi-Fi internet service and even on-board video streaming services. The motorcoach experience is so good, it may be difficult to actually get the group off the coach when they get to their destination.
Different groups types have different requirements
A major trend in recent years has been right-sizing the coach to fit your group size. We all know that groups don’t always fill full-size motorcoaches. While there may be different reasons for wanting to right-size the coach, charter operators have been working hard to provide options for groups of all sizes. The advent of quality, mid-sized and mini coaches gives tour operators plenty of options to provide a quality experience for groups. Inquire with your charter operator about options for right-sizing your coach.
Use the motorcoach company as your advocate
A quality operator can be an enormous resource for the planning and execution of your group tour. Lean on them for information about venues, attractions, travel times, community trends, etc. While they may not be a true receptive operator, they operate in their respective locations every day and they are going to have the information that will help make your tour a success. If they are reputable, they should have no issue providing this kind of assistance in exchange for your booking.
Tips for selecting a motorcoach operator
Quality of service can vary greatly among charter operators, so Giddens’ No. 1 suggestion is to avoid buying on price alone. There are many factors to consider before even making your first call; check these items.
- Does the company’s website look professional?
- Does the company have a positive online presence on social media and review sites?
- Does the company have a quality score on regulatory websites, such as safer.fmcsa.dot.gov?
If these items all check out, give the company a call or email and ask for your quote.
Once you’ve contacted a motorcoach company, its response time to your request is a key indicator of future performance. If the response is untimely or unprofessional from the beginning, it’s unlikely to improve and could be an indication of other service-related issues.
In addition to asking for a price, there are a few more questions you’ll want to ask the company’s representative directly.
- What kind of training does the company provide for the drivers?
- How often does the company perform required maintenance of their vehicles?
- What is the average age of the company’s fleet?
- What industry associations is the company a member of and are they active in those associations?
- Does the company have experience with your particular type of group?
Finally, consider the driver of your group tour. Drivers can really make or break a trip, and if a driver isn’t a fan of a particular group type, it may not be the best trip for everyone. When making your choice of charter operator, you definitely want to ensure that the company will have a driver that will mesh well with your group. Some companies prefer only working with adult groups and may not have drivers that like working with students or vice versa. It’s one extra step to ensure the group will have the best experience possible.
You may have some additional questions based upon group preferences, but if you get satisfactory answers to all of your inquiries, you can be confident in your decision.