BUS 1. (noun) a large motor vehicle designed to carry passengers, also called a motor coach. 2. (verb) to transport by bus; busing

VALUE ADDED

Planners sometimes contract directly with bus companies for the vehicles and drivers they need, but transportation management companies provide a variety of services that bus companies may not. These include printing signage, providing meet-and-greet services and other on-site staffing, stocking vehicles with snacks or drinks, delivering post-event ridership reports, developing route maps for multihotel shuttles, arranging tour guides, and setting up queue lines and signage. Also, management companies typically contract for multiple types of vehicles — limos for airport transfers, motor coaches for tours, and smaller vans for spouse programs, for example.

TIP OF THE HAT

Budget for a $1 per passenger/per day gratuity for your driver when you charter a motor coach, depending on the services provided, and be sure to include the driver in your meal counts. For a shuttle driver, a safe rule of thumb for tipping is $3 per hour.

LET SOMEONE ELSE PAY

Sponsorships can help to underwrite the cost of your transfers. While banner ads on the sides of buses work well for larger conventions, planners of corporate events might allow sponsors to, for example, put their literature on the seats, play a short video, or imprint their logos on the headrest covers or on the labels of the bottled water given out on board.

SAFETY FIRST

With as many as 40 or 50 attendees traveling in one motor coach, safety needs to be a top concern. Bus companies operate in an extremely competitive pricing environment, so be wary of those that low-ball the bid. Maintenance can sometimes take a backseat to turning a profit. Request the company's Department of Transportation number, which can be used to check the carrier's safety rating. The DOT safety ratings are based on the company's accident record and adherence to safety regulations. The highest possible rating is “satisfactory.” Other ratings include conditional, not rated, or unsatisfactory. To find a carrier's rating, go to www.safersys.org.

TURBO BOOKING

Some bus companies have moved into the computer age, with services such as coachquote.com offering online group booking.

INSURANCE NEXT

Be sure that the bus company is insured properly, and always ask to be included as “additionally insured” on all carriers' policies.

Sources: The Convention Store, www.theconventionstore.com; California Bus Association; motorcoach.com; Bay Magic Meetings and Tours, www.baymagictours.com




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