- Category: Industry News
SMARTCars Founder Stuart Rothstein has announced that the company was sold to Chicago-area Viatas Global Chauffeured Transportation in mid-November. The company will continue to operate under the SMARTCars name for the foreseeable future with staff and IO drivers continuing to work for the new organization.
Rothstein says that although largely retired, he will remain “tethered” during the transition and will continue to help grow business under the SMARTCars name. Rothstein has known Viatas Owner Dimitri Sariev for several years, and says he has a “great relationship” with him.
“I’m very optimistic and positive about [the purchase],” says Rothstein. “It was time… It’s better for the company to be in the hands of a younger man who can provide the necessary energy to take this thing forward.”
SMARTCars recently celebrated its 26th year of operation. The company has completed more than 1 million rides with a success rate of 99.8 percent. A highly regarded industry veteran, Rothstein served as treasurer and board member for the National Limousine Association (NLA). In addition, he held the roles of vice president and secretary/treasurer of the Illinois Limousine & Bus Association, and is chairman of the 20 group Chauffeured Success Group. Rothstein also was a speaker at three national conventions, delivering acclaimed presentations on industry-related topics.
Rothstein looks forward to playing pickleball in his free time, and has been approached by several companies in outside industries.
- Category: Industry News
Did you know that the 2021 CD/NLA Show in Dallas had a HUGE celebrity guest from the world of automotive rebuilds? Richard Rawlings, owner of Gas Monkey Garage, co-host of the Discovery Channel’s Garage Rehab, and one-of-a-kind builder/refurbisher, stopped by the show on October 13 to scope out some seats—and it’s all on video!
Working with David and Alexa Sacco of LGE Coachworks, the husband-and-wife team introduced Rawlings to CD President Chris Weiss and CEO Eric Alpert of Premier Products (also CEO of CD), the leading manufacturer of seating, air conditioning, and windows to the bus and RV industries.
Rawlings’ team, which includes Chase, Kenny, and Phipps, are currently gutting a traditional yellow school bus and converting it into a sweet new ride for restaurant chain Raising Cane’s, a chicken fingers joint based primarily throughout the West and Southwest. With frame work done, the Gas Monkey team was on the hunt for some custom seats, and the CD/NLA Show just happened to be in town!
Alpert and Rawlings immediately got down to business about the build and the seating options at Premier’s booth on the show floor at the Gaylord Texan, going over the specifics and ensuring that the seats would be the perfect final touch for a kickass bus interior. After testing a few of Premier’s chairs personally, Rawlings found the best fit for the project, which will include the restaurant’s logo on the headrest and contrast stitching to match their signature colors.
Rawlings and the crew also stuck around the show floor to sign some autographs and take pictures with attendees and vendors.
The whole experience was captured by Gas Monkey’s film crew and is currently available on Rawlings’ YouTube channel. You can see the full video here (Rawlings on the CD/NLA Show floor starts at 4:40). And be sure to check out future episodes as the bus is in the final stages and almost ready for reveal—at least, that’s the plan!
You can also view Premier Products’ full lineup of custom seating at premierproducts.net.
- Category: Industry News
Business travel community was out in force this past November 17-19 for the Global Business Travel Association’s 2021 Convention held in Orlando, Fla. The association reported that more than 3,500 professionals from more than 20 countries joined the 200+ exhibitors for the three-day conference in the Sunshine State.
“This was certainly a GBTA Convention like no other, in a year that’s been like no other. But what was clear is that we’re getting back to business and getting back to travel,” said GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang. “There were challenges due to the pandemic, but I am delighted to say that the event surpassed our expectations especially in light of current circumstances.”
Industry forecasts, data, and insights
- GBTA released its latest Business Travel Index 2021-2025 (made possible by HRS) revealing travel spending is forecast to surge in 2022 with full recovery expected in 2024–ending the year back to 2019 pre-pandemic global business travel spending levels of $1.4 trillion.
- The GBTA-CWT Global Business Travel Forecast 2022 showed global travel pricing increases are ahead–in 2022, flight prices are expected to rise 3.3 percent, hotel rates 13 percent and ground transportation 3.9 percent. This will be primarily driven by increasing demand, capacity constraints and travelers’ sustainability demands, plus increased labor and fuel costs.
- During GBTA Media Day, industry leaders announced news and industry firsts, while the GBTA Broadcast Studio hosted almost 40 executive interviews from some of the leading and most innovative companies in business travel and beyond.
There’s still an opportunity to access the best of Convention 2021 on-demand. Non-attendees can sign up for GBTA Convention Replay to view the five Main Stage sessions and 25 educations sessions from November 29 to January 28, 2022. Registered attendees can watch anytime via the GBTA Convention app by going to “My Convention Planner,” clicking the session of their choice, and scrolling down to the “Handouts” section to view.
GBTA revealed its theme for 2022 including next year’s convention: “(Re)Connect, (Re)Imagine, (Re)Create.” Sign up to receive alerts about registration, sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities for GBTA Convention 2022, August 14-17 in San Diego, Calif.
GBTA’s European Conference, which was scheduled for December 2021, has been postponed to early 2022 in light of concerns about the Omicron variant of COVID.