When you work in a 24/7 business, you are outside the normal routine when it comes to dealing with holidays anyway. However, in the service industry, the word “normal” almost never applies.
For limo services, the holidays themselves take a back seat to the pre & post holiday periods. It is the mad rush to get “to” the holiday destination or to get back “from” it that gets our attention. It is during these times that a company with 200 cars would still book up quickly, because the demand far outstrips the supply of vehicles available. In addition, an unwavering devotion to the idea of getting to the airport as close to flight time as possible makes some travelers inflexible when it comes to their requested pickup time. This, combined with an overall reduction in large capacity vehicles, becomes the “perfect storm” that makes it impossible to accommodate the needs – or more appropriately…demands – of every traveler. Obviously, we can only use the Chicago limousine market as a point of reference, since it’s where we “cut our teeth”, but the same challenges exist elsewhere in the ground transportation industry.
Taking all of this into consideration, we would like to review the steps that we have implemented to help out our regular customers, as well as those who are new to O’Hare-Midway Limousine Service.
First and foremost, let’s talk limousines. Fifteen years ago, we had almost 100 stretch limousines in our fleet. Today, we have closer to ten. It isn’t just OML; most services are getting away from stretch limousines, and for obvious reasons. Cost is behind the decisions every business makes, and it’s no different for limo companies. When the cost of the vehicle rises between 15% and 25%, and clients are asking you to cut your prices, something needs to give. Additionally, most corporate clients have become very aware of “appearances” in the last decade or so. A corporation that pushes cost-cutting principles in the board room must carry that message throughout the organization, and that includes transportation. Therefore, the supply of stretch limos is shrinking, and will likely continue to do so. Unfortunately, during the holidays, it seems everyone wants a limousine. Taking the family to the airport, going to a holiday party, or just kicking back with friends; the limousine is the vehicle of choice. So with diminished supply and sporadic peaks in demands, what is the best option? Think…SUV. We have a large number of Lincoln Navigator SUV’s to handle large parties, and since our corporate clientele is good with them, we will continue to add them as we head into the future. And remember, the Lincoln Town Car Stretch is done. Nothing new in the last couple of years, and the replacement Lincoln limousine is the MKT (think PT Cruiser with a healthier price tag) is just not a suitable replacement. There are companies out there that are buying up as many old limos as they can, but the key word here is “old”. Be careful what you ask for. O’Hare-Midway created a policy last year of only guaranteeing stretch limousines if they were reserved well in advance on an hourly basis. If a client is “willing” to leave us the option of substituting an SUV in place of a limo, then we can book it as any other trip, but if a clients MUST HAVE a stretch, then the hourly stretch rate will apply.
To be Continued – Part 2: Timing is Everything