Tuesday, February 19, 2008

But I Made A Reservation By Frank Gallo

As a sales person in the limo industry for over 12 years I've seen and heard a lot of things. Some stories are unbelievable. Like the time one of the chauffeurs for a former company I worked for urinated outside of an office building of a large pharmaceutical company. The office building was made of windows where you can see out but you cannot see in. The driver did not know this and provided the secretary with a show and a natural window washing. Yeah....some of this stuff you just cannot make up.

Any way, in all the years I've been in the industry, there is one common phrase I always hear. "But I made my reservation yesterday, or last week, etc.". Who did you make your reservation with? I do not mean the operator. I mean which company did you make your reservation with? It is important to know your different companies and service levels. Each company has their own dispatch method and pricing structure. One thing to keep in mind is that when there is bad weather or the president is in town, it does not matter who you call or when you called them.

Below is a quick summary of each to help you. As simple as our industry sounds, there are different categories of service. Each category has a different dispatch method and price structure. Taxi, Car Service, Black Car Service, High end VIP service.

Taxi - Yellow cars - Cash fares. All fares come from the street.

Car service - Reservations are not needed - Identified by the yellow bicycle reflector looking gizmo in the back (also found on taxis). They are allowed to take calls over a radio from their base or a cash fare on the street. Car services must have cameras installed in their vehicle. They are mostly local services in the boroughs. Some famous "Car Services" are Dial 7 (the old Telaviv), Carmel, Olympic (Queens), Hoyt (Astoria). Prices are slightly higher than taxis but lower than Black Car Services.

Corporate Black Car Service - Reservations and car requests are made through a call center. All calls must get dispatched to a driver via a radio or dispatch unit. Black car companies cannot pick up cash fares off the street. With Corporate Black Car Service it does not matter if you call the reservation at the time needed or if you call one week in advance.
Pick-ups in New York City are dispatched 15-20 minutes prior to the scheduled time of the reservation (Out of town reservations are dispatched 1.5 minutes for every mile. For example, if a pick up location is 30 miles away, the vehicle will be dispatched 45 minutes prior to the pick up time). If a call comes up to be dispatched and there are no vehicles available, there will be a delay. Some examples of Black Car companies are Odyssey Transportation Group, Elite, Skyline, Executive Transportation Group, Corporate Transportation Group etc. Fares are higher than a car service and lower than a High-end Company. Keep in mind that since the taxis went on strike and raised their rates, taxi rates are very close to some black car company rates.

In order for you to receive the "guaranteed" on time service, you need a high end, pre-reserved company.

VIP / High-end service has a different dispatching method. Vehicles are taken out of inventory and pre-assigned to a specific reservation well in advance. The vehicle cannot perform other reservations until the new reservation is completed. The reservations are dispatched well in advance. The VIP service is "guaranteed". The VIP service is anywhere from 2 to 4 times the amount of a Black Car company rate. Some examples of VIP companies are BostonCoach, CAREY, DavEl, TriStar Worldwide, etc.

If you are using a black car company, the factors you want to look at to evaluate the company are 1. How long are their delays? 2. When I need a car, what is their availability. 3. How are their drivers and customer service? If you are using a high-end service and they are one minute late, you have every right as a customer to complain.



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