Shopping for a motorcoach operator is not a simple task. Clearly, you want a company that’s going to get the job done, and at a competitive price. But what should tour group organizers prioritize when vetting private charter vendors? Is the lowest cost always the best bet? And what special amenities will help group members feel comfortable and relaxed? The following tips will help you find the best motorcoach match for your group.
Tips for Selecting a Private Charter Provider
Motorcoach Safety Considerations
• Does the company follow DOT driver regulations? The DOT requires that drivers work for a maximum of ten hours per day. How will the company handle your group if you need to drive more than ten hours in one twenty-four hour period?
• What will the company do if you experience an on-the-road emergency? A strong candidate will have a nationwide reciprocal maintenance agreement so that repairs can be conducted quickly.
• Ask for a copy of the company’s written drug and alcohol policy. Do not hire any motorcoach operation that lacks strong enforcement of this important issue.
• Request the company’s DOT (Department of Transportation) identification number. This five- or six-digit number is required for legal operation. Use the DOT number to check the carrier’s safety record at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SMS website. This search can also reveal red flags for government non-compliance.
• To find companies that go above and beyond legal requirements, prioritize ABA (American Bus Association) membership. ABA members abide by a higher Code of Ethics representing the highest standards of bus service.
• Ask about the size of each provider’s fleet. This can give you insight into how equipped the operator will be to handle emergencies. A larger fleet allows for replacement vehicles in the case of a breakdown. It also brings more bandwidth for the peak season. Finally, a larger fleet generally indicates business success following reliable performance.
• Inquire after the average age of equipment in operation. Older motorcoaches are more prone to breakdowns. If equipment is, on average, more than ten years old, ask how frequently the company performs preventative maintenance.
• How long has the company been in business? This classic vetting question is useful because long lasting companies tend to have effective operating procedures and happy customers.
• Request for a Certificate of Insurance. A minimally acceptable level of insurance is $5 million combined, single-limit liability coverage.
• Ask for references, particularly from similar groups going on trips like yours.
• Will the company offer video on board? A DVD player can help your riders pass travel time pleasantly.
• Private charter WiFi is in high demand among today’s motorcoach riders, particularly those in the Millennial generation. Motorcoach private WiFi will allow all passengers to catch up on emails, surf social media sites, and keep up to date on the news while en route. Student groups will enjoy the ability to research learning topics while on the road. Athletic teams can watch relevant sport play videos online. And all groups can deepen their appreciation of travel destinations with online access. Motorcoach mobile WiFi helps customers relax while also improving communication between each vehicle and central command.
To conclude, we’d like to remind you that the cheapest motorcoach option is not always the best option. The lowest bid sometimes indicates a less experienced provider. As the old adage goes, you get what you pay for—and if you choose the rock bottom price, you may not receive much in the way of customer service. While communicating what your group needs, and researching potential motorcoach providers, we encourage you use the guiding questions listed above. Doing your homework in this way will help create an enjoyable private charter experience.
[Photo by Kerem Yucel via FreeImages.com]