Thursday, October 01, 2020

As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the motorcoach industry, United Motorcoach Association COO Ken Presley opened the association’s September 17 virtual Town Hall meeting with some encouraging news.

With negotiations for a new relief package continually breaking down in Congress, Presley was optimistic about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s commitment for the House to remain in their districts so a vote can be made on a new plan. Furthermore, President Trump has encouraged Republicans to table their debt fears. However, the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (which broke the day after the Town Hall) could derail any progress in the other chamber as Senate Republicans scramble to secure votes for Trump’s expected nominee.  

UMA UMA President & CEO Larry Killingsworth

Presley pointed out three different plans that are in play among Congress: The $3.4 trillion HEROES Act, the $600 billion Republican “skinny” bill, and a $1.5 trillion Problem Solvers Caucus bill, which was developed by a bipartisan group of 50 Congress members. Presley believes that a second round of PPP is guaranteed at the very least, but believes it is likely that a package will include the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act, an add-on bill that provides direct relief to the motorcoach industry with $10B in grants and loans.

“The work that everyone has done has been simply phenomenal in support of CERTS,” said UMA President & CEO Larry Killingsworth. “Keep pushing… we’re building awareness state by state.”

At the time of the Town Hall, 45 senators and 151 House representatives were backing the CERTS Act. Killingsworth added that while the delays in relief were frustrating, it allowed more time for senators to become aware of the challenges faced by the motorcoach industry and jump on board the bill.

UMA UMA Vice President & COO Ken Presley

Support for the CERTS Act transcends Washington, however. During the meeting, Killingsworth shared a taped message made by Dean Sams of the country band Lonestar. In the video, Sams makes a plea for Congress to take action and assist the motorcoach industry, as it is an essential part of the live music industry.

Next, Rich Broughton of Triple J in Las Vegas was invited to introduce Stephen Akermann, transportation security inspector for the Department of Homeland Security, who is part of an outreach program to handle security for motorcoach businesses in Nevada. As an inspector whose focus largely consists of mom-and-pop operations, he offered his support to the hurting industry. In terms of security advice, he encouraged operators and their drivers/chauffeurs to be proactive regarding exactly who/what is getting on each bus.

UMA

As it had been more than two months since the UMA offered an equipment finance panel, Mike Denny of MCI and David Scoular of Prevost were on the call to keep operators up to date as to what they can expect from lenders in the coming weeks. While many lenders are considering a third round of payment modifications, they are very reluctant to do so, and Denny and Scoular offered up some advice for operators entering negotiations with their financial institutions. First and foremost, they advise owners to be patient with their banks and lenders, as they are also struggling in these uncharted waters. Second, be prepared to “tell a story”: Be accurate about the state of your business and cash burn, while offering up examples what are you doing to find new business. Further, provide a clear forecast for 2021 as well as details on insurance and maintenance. Lenders like to know that their investment (or more accurately, their collateral) is being protected. As the used bus market is at a low, the vehicle is better in your hands than a repo lot, which is advantageous for operators during negotiations.

Before the meeting concluded, Killingsworth informed members that the UMA Safety Management Seminar is going virtual and will be held December 1-3. The organization’s Risk Management Committee is currently working on agenda. Sign up information will be provided in the coming weeks.

The next UMA Town Hall is scheduled for September 24 at 2PM ET. Registration is required.

Visit uma.org for more information.

[09.21.20]

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the voice of the global business travel industry, has reinforced its European presence with the addition of new members to the European Advisory Board and advisory boards across the region.

GBTA

The GBTA advisory boards are run by member volunteers, selected for their expertise and industry knowledge. The role of these boards is to help shape and guide the strategy of GBTA Europe, working closely with the GBTA leadership team.

GBTA Chair of GBTA's Europe Advisory Board Mark Cuschieri

“Volunteers are essential to the success of GBTA in Europe and ensure we have representation from both the supplier and buyer communities to deliver the high-quality content and events our members require. With any change, brings opportunity and this gives GBTA Europe the chance to re-engage and structure the association in line with member requirements and the specific needs of this region,” said Catherine Logan, regional VP – EMEA.

New volunteers include:

Europe Advisory Board:
Stephen Hanton, President International, Synergy Global Housing
David McNeill, AVP Global Corporate Sales, EMEA & APAC, Enterprise Holdings
Carol Fergus, Global Travel Manager, Fidelity International
Eija Kurttila, Global Travel Manager, Telia Company
Jens Liltorp, Global Category Manager, Travel and M&E, Leo Pharma
Stefan Asmuss, Global Travel Manager, SAP SE

Italy Advisory Board:
Marco Quagliarella, Director of International Operations, AIM International
Matteo Ciccale, Partnerships Manager Team Lead, Booking.com (Italia) Srl.

France Advisory Board:
Ondine Bedetti, Global Lead Buyer Travel, BNP Paribas
Katharina Navarro, Global Category Manager Travel, Cap Gemini has also been appointed as Vice President.

“I am delighted to see so many new industry leaders have joined the advisory boards, to help reset the role of GBTA in Europe and to ensure that the GBTA Europe Advisory Board has a renewed purpose; more influence and the ability to re-energize membership. I am looking forward to working with all the new volunteers to ensure members are well served across Europe,” said Mark Cuschieri, chair of the GBTA Europe Advisory Board.

Visit gbta.org for more information.

[09.22.20]

The importance of state industry associations has never been more evident than in these past six months. Across the country, the associations have provided their members with valuable education, networking, and support during the pandemic.

NLA

To continue its support of local/state associations, the National Limousine Association (NLA) launched a new Association Grant Program. This program, which has replaced the rebate program, gives associations the opportunity to receive funding based on their legislative efforts, membership campaigns, and educational programming.

NLA Robert Alexander NLA President Robert Alexander

“I, along with the NLA Board, appreciate the importance and value local/state associations bring to NLA members and our industry as a whole,” said NLA President Robert Alexander of RMA Worldwide in a recent President’s Message. “We have always worked hard to support these associations through various opportunities such as complimentary exhibit space at shows, supporting local lobbying initiatives, and through the NLA rebate program.”

Recently, the NLA shared that it will be granting a total of nearly $50,000 among the following associations:

  • Arizona Limousine Association
  • Florida Limousine Association
  • Greater Atlanta Limousine Association
  • Greater California Livery Association
  • Greater Orlando Limousine Association
  • Illinois Limousine & Bus Association
  • Limousine Association of New Jersey
  • Limousine Association of New York
  • Minnesota Chauffeured Transportation Association
  • New England Livery Association
  • Wisconsin Limousine Association

The NLA has pledged continue to support local/state associations as the industry navigates through COVID-19.

“Change often starts on a local level and the more engaged members in local/state associations, the stronger our industry will be,” said Alexander.

In addition, the NLA is currently encouraging operators to get directly involved with the NLA as a board member. The association is currently accepting nominations to run for open board seats for the 2021-2024 term. If you have fresh insights and passion to devote to supporting the association, you can submit your nomination here.

Please note, per Article 6 of the NLA Bylaws, an individual must be a corporate officer or senior executive of a Regular Active Member (operator) company that has been an NLA member for at least the most recent two consecutive years.

Open board seats include:

  • At-Large (Two Open Seats)
  • Central (One Open Seat)
  • Northeast (One Open Seat)
  • Southeast (Two Open Seats)
  • West (One Open Seat)

The nomination period will close Wednesday, October 14.

Visit limo.org for more information.

[09.21.20]