The Illinois Limousine and Bus Association held the July edition of Coffee With ILLBA educational Zoom series on Tuesday, July 19. Eschewing the usual guest speaker format, this month’s webinar was an open roundtable called Ask the Board Anything. This lively Q&A allowed attendees to share information about and possible solutions to hot-button topics faced by operators in the Midwest and beyond.
The webinar was launched by ILLBA Vice President Tracy Raimer of Windy City Limousine & Bus, who welcomed attendees and introduced the ILLBA Board. The discussion immediately got underway as attendees offered their two cents on whether they are adding or removing vehicles from their fleets. With vehicles in short supply (particularly executive vans and sedans), the participants debated the pros and cons of utilizing the new Jeep Wagoneer in our space as well as the benefits of supplementing fleets with sedans versus SUVs.
From there, the talk moved to rates and whether the rising prices seen since the pandemic have finally plateaued. The consensus among the attendees was that clients don’t mind paying more for luxury ground transportation provided that superior service—and safety—are consistently delivered. In fact, ILLBA President Art Rento of Pontarelli Companies stated that a rising crime rate in Chicago is the biggest issue he’s currently facing. Other operators noted that they are finding staff from former Chicago Transit Authority employees who left their job due to concerns about personal safety.
Another hot topic explored was delays at airports, due to the shortage of manpower. Some operators have seen delays of more than three hours at baggage claim, leading them to change the way they bill clients arriving on international flights. While some have taken to billing international arrivals as charter time (i.e., a two-hour minimum), ILLBA Executive Director Paula DeBiasi of Chicago Coachworks recommended that operators institute a one-hour spot time for travelers coming in from abroad.
The conversation then moved to insurance matters, chiefly the requirements for airport pickups. Operators on the webinar vented their frustration about the coverage discrepancy between the TNCs and our industry.
Before the meeting ended, attendees shared what’s working in regard to adding new staff and drivers. Overwhelmingly, it was agreed by participants that job sites like Indeed are not as effective for hiring long-term employees; instead, it appears that referrals and word-of-mouth are particularly beneficial for onboarding chauffeurs.
This month’s Coffee With ILLBA seminar was recorded and will be available on the association’s YouTube channel here.
Visit illba.org for more information.