CD/NLA Show DC
Sunday, October 02, 2022

Atlantic City, N.J. — It was a fitting farewell to the Trump Taj Mahal this past November 2-5 as the 2014 Chauffeur Driven Show arrived for its final show in the New Jersey shore town before moving to Miami Beach in 2015. With nearly 100 exhibitors, dozens of sponsors, and 1,750 attendees from all around the world, this show exceeded all of our expectations, and we appreciate your support and attendance that helped make our show such a major success. A special thank you to our Title Sponsors, The Lincoln Motor Company and Don Brown Bus Sales.

Attendees took advantage of the diverse networking and educational opportunities, including in-depth and interactive workshops that went beyond the traditional classroom-style learning and were focused on timely topics like capturing more bus and motorcoach work and automating your business for greater efficiency. The workshops also featured the results of one of the first-ever salary surveys so that operators could have a benchmark against which to measure employee compensation packages. Many thanks to our Education Coordinator and Education Committee Chair Jason Sharenow of Broadway Elite Chauffeured Services Worldwide for moderating the sessions.

The industry’s only Operator Mentoring Program, which debuted last year, was once again a popular favorite as 15 leaders both offered advice to and led discussions with their small groups. Operators were also empowered by the lively State of the Industry Address—delivered by Cheryl Berkman of Music Express, David Seelinger of EmpireCLS, and Dean De Beer of Tristar Worldwide—and the Uber/TNC Panel that preceded it, both of which were standing-room only. It’s no surprise that TNCs dominated the conversation, and real-life suggestions on how to rise above the “technology” companies were discussed by TNC panelists Al LaGasse of Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA); Mike Fogarty of Tristar Worldwide and TLPA; and Matt Daus of International Airport Transportation Regulators (IATR), all of whom are championing causes for the industry. Extended Stay America CEO Jim Donald inspired the audience with his plain talk and no-nonsense message about being a different type of leader, but he also gave his thoughts on how we can collectively combat Uber much like his own industry is dealing with the threat from another disruptive technology company, Airbnb.

“The content of the seminars, the events in between, and the show floor were all great. The mentoring program was really good, too. It ended up being more of a roundtable discussion where everybody kind of contributed, and I enjoyed it because I took in a lot of information not only from the mentor but also from the other folks who were there—and there were some other people I was also able to help, so it was a definite win-win. The show was awesome,” says Renzo Ormsbee of Elite Worldwide Transportation Solutions.

An entire day was crafted around growing affiliate business—Affiliate Tuesday—which included a panel discussion on how to be a better affiliate partner, followed by the Affiliate Central Networking Forum of operators from around the world. Both the Affiliate Central event and International Meet and Greet—a casual gathering of international operators that was held the day before—were packed and tons of connections were made. Affiliate Day also featured the affiliate meetings of both Music Express and EmpireCLS, which were also packed to capacity.

Three associations—The Limousine Association of New Jersey (LANJ), Minority Limousine Operators of America (MLOA), and the Florida Limousine Association (FLA) also hosted meetings at the show, all of which saw lively discussions and robust attendance. Those interested in keeping the association conversations going were also able to speak directly with representatives on the show floor in the Association Pavilion (also the home of the Micro-sessions).

“The Limousine Association of New Jersey so appreciated the opportunities provided at the 2014 Chauffeur Driven Show,” says Patty Nelson, LANJ Executive Director. “We were not only able to host our general meeting on site, which attracted more than 100 attendees—at 8 a.m.!—but also spotlight our special offer recruitment program that brought us eight new operator members. Many thanks, Chauffeur Driven!”

Beyond education and networking, operators were clearly looking to buy products, vehicles, and services from our show floor exhibitors. With heavy traffic all three days of the show floor, many of the major vendors mentioned not only an uptick of interest in their wares but also increased sales.

“We were exceptionally busy on the floor’s opening day, and the second day was when the people we talked to on the first day wanted to come back and confirm sales. We sold at least three vehicles but it might be as high as five. Every opportunity we have to introduce our product to new people is a standout moment for us,” says Howard Kelly of Meridian Specialty Vehicles. “It’s not about the glitz and the flash, it’s about how we focus on the customer. When they get to see what we do and the way we do things, that’s our opportunity to shine. The show had a great diversity of both client opportunity and manufacturers to talk with, very much more so on the client side. The fact that we had as many clients as we did and some dealers here who are actually buying some of the buses on the floor made it a great show for us.”

Attendees also had some casual downtime at our two evening parties—Night of the Living Dead and Rockin’ Roundup—as well as our legendary after-hours Suite Parties. But the highlight of the evening’s activities was Tuesday night with our Charity Dinner and Auction. David Seelinger hosted the live auction with Publisher Chris Weiss, and together helped raise close to $90,000 for the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, a phenomenal charity that helps inspire sick children through the healing power of music. Thank you to our extraordinary Charity Committee, who collected dozens of donated items for our silent, chance, and live auctions and helped to facilitate the event.

Next year the 2015 Chauffeur Driven Show hits the road and lands in beautiful Miami Beach, Florida, on October 11-14. You’ll love the venue we’ve picked: the spectacular Loews Miami Beach, one of the hottest properties in South Beach. We’ll have more details for you by the end of the year. In the meantime, we’re working on uploading all of the photos, education recordings, PowerPoint presentations, and handouts of the educational sessions to our website (chauffeurdrivenshow.com). Don’t forget our Executive Retreat will take place this June 22-24 in Nashville. You can get the most up-to-date information on our show website, in the pages of the magazine, and through our social media.

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Las Vegas, Nevada — Meridian Specialty Vehicles, a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Approved Upfitter, recently announced the expansion of its dealer base into the Northeast U.S. with the addition of Don Brown Bus Sales as a stocking dealer.

In recent years Meridian has reported steadily increasing sales thanks to state-of-the-art production techniques, innovations, and designs that deliver best-in-class quality, safety, and manufacturing consistency.

“With demand for Meridian vehicles continuing to climb, it only made sense for us to expand our dealer presence in the Northeast,” says David Ronsen, president. “We wanted a dealer that could hit the ground running with our vehicles, and there was never any question that Don Brown Bus Sales was the right choice for our expansion. Its staff has the skills, service reputation, sales force, and customer base to be extremely successful selling the full line of Meridian products in its territories.”

With over 40 years of experience in commercial bus sales, Don Brown Bus Sales has stellar reputation for providing quality support during and after sales. “Don Brown Bus Sales is very excited to be partnering with Meridian Specialty Vehicles as its Northeast dealer. Meridian is exactly what our clients have been asking us for in a 10- to 20-passenger shuttle bus,” says Eric Sebast of Don Brown Bus Sales.

Don Brown is currently stocking Meridian product that is ready for immediate delivery.

Visit meridiansv.com for more information.

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Late last month, it was announced that ground transportation operators utilizing Livery Coach, FASTTRAK Cloud, The Hudson Group, and SedanMagic, have real-time access to vehicle location data, intra-network communications, and on-demand booking capabilities delivered via a new system-agnostic neutral communications platform through the formation of The coNext Project.

GroundWidgets is the latest member to join the alliance of software providers working with The coNext Project, which increases the numbers served by an additional 500 operators, 10,000+ cars, and 12.5 million rides.

“The coNext Project now brings together over 1,530 operators, 41,525+ cars, and 80.5 million rides each year for the ground transportation providers represented by the CoNext system providers,” says Amir Zafar, founder and CEO of GRiDD, the technology company who developed the neutral platform.

For years, the largest stumbling block to working with affiliates was the use of different software systems. This new connectivity will eliminate the need for ground transportation operators to call in reservations to their affiliates. With a push of a button, they will now be able to send jobs electronically to any operator—regardless of their dispatch system—and they can get real-time ride statuses, book changes, and send rides to an affiliate regardless of the software they are using, thus drastically reducing the overhead of their dispatch and reservation operations.

This is the first time operators from different software providers can communicate directly through utilizing a vendor-neutral network technology in real-time.

We are pleased to be able to add the GroundWidgets operators, using the LMS, SantaCruz, and ULS back office software to this open network,” says Zafar.

Apurva Patel, CEO of GroundWidgets, is excited to be part of this project. “It has always been in the best interest of our industry to have a single, neutral communications network,” he says. “Chauffeured service passengers are part of a global community, and we have to make sure that our clients are seamlessly connected to this global network. Participation in The coNext Project means that we are adding a new level of real-time connectivity where operators partner with each other and are positioned to extend the duty of care their corporate customers expect.”

In addition to the connectivity, operators will now be able to elect to go on demand when they have excess capacity. The on-demand feature will be at the discretion of the company not the driver.

Visit www.theconextproject.com or send an email to info@theconextproject.com for more information.

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