You asked for it and we listened. In this column, we ask operators of all sizes and from all walks of the industry a question about their business and report their answers so you can assess how your own company compares to your peers. If you would like to participate, please email Rob Smentek at email@example.com for next issue’s question.
TOPIC: Have you seen a dip in business or increased cancellations due to the recent news about the Omicron variant? In what segment have you seen the biggest impact? Has your state/market instituted any new measures that have precipitated this?
Note: COVID policies are ever-changing, and the answers may not reflect recent updates or mandates after the time of publication.
Here in the Midwest, my company hasn't experienced a decrease in revenue or a spike in cancellations as a result of Omicron. We typically deal with a lot of last-minute, off-the-cuff reservations at this time of year in my market, and this holiday season we have actually seen an uptick in business compared to last year at the same time at higher margins since we have now implemented dynamic pricing into our online reservations platform. If I had to pick one category, I'd say leisure travelers are still traveling, and most of them are leaving the country on vacation, even if it means jumping through hoops to do so while having to be tested many times. To my knowledge, the state of Ohio has not modified its mask mandate or made any other significant changes to it.
Kirk Bagger, CEO
Captains Car Service in Parma, Ohio
In the Tampa market, we have not seen a dip in business or an uptick in cancellations. Fortunately, we have been extremely busy with a rise in business (corporate and retail) and increased reservations especially on the corporate side. Corporate travel has nearly tripled in the last six months compared to the first half of 2021. Many clients are planning their meetings here in the Tampa area and so far, we have had a lot of successful events happen already. We are grateful for the rise in business.
David Di Domenico, VP / Affiliate Relations
Showtime Transportation of Tampa in Tampa, Fla.
We have seen a significant dip in business with dozens of cancellations to tune of $40K+ just in the past two weeks. Much of this is retail with a large portion directly linked to shows in NYC being cancelled, specifically the Rockettes. Many tourists would make an entire day out it, planning lunch before the show, with some shopping afterwards, so a Sprinter or limo trip would easily average $1,500-$2,000. We are also seeing some off-season/winter weddings being cancelled due to the large increase in positive COVID cases.
Johnny Donohoe, President
Sterling Limousine & Transportation Services in Newtown, Pa
We’ve seen a drop off in business here in Ireland, despite nearly 94 percent of the eligible population being vaccinated. New measures requiring hospitality to close at 8 p.m., a negative test to enter the country, and outdoor sporting events limited to 5,000 people have had a devastating effect on business with cancellations across all business segments.
Myles Flood, CEO
LfL Worldwide Chauffeur Services in Dublin, Ireland
We have had major cancellations for two major corporate events that take place each year in January. In addition, we’ve experienced some moderate leisure-related cancellations. As for measures, we are committed to our “duty of care” pledge, and still adhere to policies of masking, electrostatic spraying our vehicles multiple times each day, as well as a complimentary care package for each client with masks, hand sanitizer, and bottled water. We have strongly recommended our internal staff and chauffeurs get vaccinated completely.
Mark Kini, Founder & CEO
Boston Chauffeur in Boston, Mass.
Corporate business travel has naturally slowed down for the holiday season, but winter travel has increased. The Omicron variant shows itself in increased testing procedures and border controls. As of now, the number of service cancellations has been relatively low, but last-minute changes in private flight scheduling seem to fill up our working days nicely.
Ilpo Mäkinen, Director of Sales, Operations & Business Development
Limousine Service Ltd. in Helsinki, Finland
We operate in Austin and the surrounding cities that include the Hill Country. Travis County has not implemented any new measures since increasing to stage 4; however, many events have been canceled due to the surge. Luckily, our industry hasn’t been affected yet. We have a 60/40 split of retail and corporate clients. It’s hard to tell if our corporate clients will pull back on travel as they usually don’t get back to business until the second or third week of January. This season brings many weddings, and we haven’t seen a change in those requests. We are still requesting clients wear masks in non-partitioned vehicles along with continued efforts of heavy sanitation before, during, and after each trip. Our team of chauffeurs are all vaccinated and wear masks along with monitoring symptoms we hope to help slow the spread.
Andrea McAdams, Co-owner
Lux Limo in Austin, Texas
We have seen a few cancellations in direct correlation to the latest COVID surge. Unfortunately, most of them have been “We just tested positive and can’t go,” instead of canceling in advance. Many of the cancellations have come from family holiday trips, whether to see the grandkids or to go on a family vacation. Some trips and holiday parties are being postponed instead of outright canceled, so we are able to keep the revenue, even if it is deferred. We, as a company, are returning to mandatory masks and disinfecting more often, in efforts to keep our people safe and healthy. It seems to be a more trying time right now than it was in 2020.
Tracy Salinger, President and CEO
Unique Limousine in Harrisburg, Pa.
We in Seattle have definitely seen a dip in corporate business and are bracing for a decrease. The first shock came in the second week of December from two of my bio-tech companies canceling all transportation and informing the staff not to travel for two months. And it looks like events for January and February are being canceled too as I write this. Since we are in a blue state, we notice more retail work being canceled. It has been a tough two years for most companies, and we cannot wait for spring to come.
Jess Sandhu, Director of Operations
A&A Limousine & Bus Service in Kenmore, Wash.
It takes longer for things to reach us in Kansas, both positive and negative. So far, we have not seen any noticeable difference in reservations, nor has the state instituted any new or revised mandates.
Quentin Shackelford, Owner
AllClassLimo.com in Wichita, Kan.
We have seen a downturn in business due to sports teams (pro, college, and high school) canceling games and tournaments. But on the flipside, the teams that are not canceling are increasing the number of buses so the players can spread out. Fortunately, in most cases we are seeing postponements and not cancellations, so it is equalizing itself out overall.
Brian Whitaker, Director of Sales
Chicago Classic Coach in Mount Prospect, Ill.
We’ve loved hearing your answers to our benchmarking questions—but we always welcome suggestions for future topics, too!
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