Lancer Insurance
Friday, May 24, 2024
ILLBA

Despite summer weather still present in much of the country, the Illinois Limousine and Bus Association (ILLBA) was in full winter season spirit during their latest Coffee With ILLBA webinar on Tuesday, September 12. The main topic of the virtual meeting was How to Build, Price, and Market Holiday Light Tours, presented by Tim Wiegman of Boulevard Limousine. Thirty operators from across the country were present for the webinar.

ILLBA President Tracy Raimer of Windy City Limousine & Bus kicked off the meeting by welcoming the operators in attendance. She then introduced the ILLBA Board of Directors before introducing the guest speaker.

ILLBA ILLBA President Tracy Raimer

Wiegman, who is based in Kansas City (a city nationally recognized for their Christmas lights), has seen a great deal of success with the light tours for more than 15 years. However, operators may be asking, “why are we talking about the Christmas season in September?” Well, according to Wiegman, now is the time to start planning and marketing your holiday light tours, as he actually has booking requests as early as June.  

When it comes to the question of what vehicles to use for the light tours, Wiegman has a simple response: “All of them.”  Sprinters and shuttles offer ideal raised seating with low-tint windows, while stretch limousines are extremely popular with families, especially children. Sedans are ideal for couples, and SUVs are perfect for small groups. Operators with trolleys may want to decorate their vehicle for a classic holiday vibe.

ILLBA Boulevard Limousine President Tim Wiegman

Regarding decorations, Wiegman advised that they should be easily removed from the vehicle, as you never know when you’ll need to do a quick airport run. Similarly, the chauffeur’s dress code should be taken into account. While holiday sweaters and hats are festive and fun, just be aware that you may have a last-minute run with a VIP.

When setting up pricing for the tour, Wiegman said that operators should consider the length of the light tour, days for the week, whether it’s a private or ticketed event, and what’s provided to the clients (e.g., cocoa, cookies, etc.). He suggested limiting tours to two hours in order to run more than one light tour per night, thereby getting “high utilization” from the vehicle. Also, operators are encouraged to take advantage of dynamic pricing, and charge more on weekends and in the days approaching Christmas.

When it comes to both building a route and marketing your light tour, Wiegman says that Facebook groups offer enormous opportunities. Local pages not only key you into the best decorated houses, but also let you promote your service at no cost. SEO is the biggest marketing driver, according to Wiegman, so be sure your website tags key words within your market.

ILLBA James Limousine Randy Allen

Another operator on the webinar, Randy Allen of James Limousine, has seen similar success with “tacky light tours” in the Richmond, Va., area. He pointed out that safety is a tremendous consideration with the tours given the many distractions the drivers face, including passenger interaction, pedestrians, traffic, and holiday music in the car. To help reinforce safety standards, Allen holds a safety meeting prior to the tour season. Also, Allen added that it’s important to fit the chauffeur’s personality with the tour. While some chauffeurs are ideal for VIP work and airport runs, they may not have the gregarious personality that is necessary for the Christmas light tours.

Following Wiegman’s slide presentation, ILLBA Executive Director/Secretary Paula DeBiasi of Chicago CoachWorks briefly discussed issues with the staging area at O’Hare airport. Evidently Uber Black drivers are parking improperly, leading to congestion. She and Raimer encouraged operators to report all bad actors to airport officials.  DeBiasi also stated that the association is working on two upcoming meetings that will cover AI and building websites.

The September Coffee With ILLBA meeting was recorded, and is available to all operators on the association’s YouTube channel. It can be accessed by clicking here. A copy of Wiegman’s informative slide show can be downloaded here.

Visit illba.org for more information.

[09.18.22]