Chauffeured Transportation for the Business Aviation Community:
7 Tips for Choosing the Right Partner
By Frank Davidson, SVP Global Sales & Private Aviation Specialist
Delivering a perfectly planned BizAv mission involves hours of logistical work before the trip begins. Flight plans, crew visas, weather reports, overflight permits, airport slots, crew schedules… the list goes on and on. And on the day of the mission, everyone is on their toes, ready to quickly respond to any unforeseen deviations. The ultimate goal is to deliver a safe and flawless client experience.
Air charter brokers, Part 135 operators and international mission service providers agree: no matter how well they do their job to ensure a flawless flight experience for their VIP clients, their biggest headache is organizing the catering and ground transportation.
Passengers expect excellent catering onboard, but the ground transportation is an extension of the flight itself. Some brokers and operators consciously stay away from organizing this service, viewing it as a way to potentially lose a client. “Great if the service goes well, a catastrophe of epic proportions if it doesn’t”, the CEO of a large European air charter brokerage once told me. “I can do everything right on the flight, but if the chauffeur is 10 minutes late, I risk losing the client to the competition!”
We all know that the relationship with a client is in real jeopardy if the customer touch points aren’t consistently meeting expectations. But if you don’t organize ground transportation and your competitor does, you will be at a competitive disadvantage.
Nowadays, there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to provide high-quality door-to-door service anywhere your clients are flying. If you work with an experienced global supplier of chauffeured ground transportation professionals that uses sophisticated technology for global tracking and communication, you shouldn’t worry about being let down.
Handlers have traditionally been the providers of ground transportation, both for crew and lead passengers. Some handlers have very good local contacts and do a great job, but others unfortunately don’t. For many handlers, ground transportation is simply not at the core of what they do, and this is when issues can happen.
Organizing the ground transportation for the BizAv community is much more than simply having a chauffeured vehicle show up at the private terminal at the aircraft ETA. It’s important to minimize risk. Don’t let a perfectly planned and executed mission be ruined because the ground transportation doesn’t meet passenger expectations.
Here are 7 tips to take in consideration when choosing the right partner:
1) Upfront, all-inclusive price. Clients hate to get approximate quotes only to receive much higher invoices later on with unexpected costs for airport parking, tolls, taxes, gratuities, waiting times, or any other added extras. Always demand guaranteed upfront all-inclusive pricing.
2) Book in seconds. You have many other things to take care of, so obtaining all-inclusive quotes and confirming a vehicle should take seconds. If you have to ask for quotes by email, you’re dependent on how quickly the supplier can respond. Some global providers, Drivania Chauffeurs being one of them, offer a web-based online booking platform, where you can get quotes and book vehicles in just a matter of seconds.
3) Details well in advance. Forget about having to chase down your supplier to obtain vehicle and chauffeur details the day before the flight takes off. You shouldn’t have to deal with all that stress. Insist that your provider proactively send you vehicle & chauffeur details—with a photograph of the chauffeur—at least 24 hours in advance.
Some global providers can provide chauffeur details even 15 minutes after you confirm the service, no matter how many days or weeks in advance you book. Also, make sure your provider doesn’t switch chauffeurs at the very last minute. That won’t make anyone happy.
4) 24×7 Customer Support. Making changes to flight itineraries is part of your day-to-day workload. Changes, updates and cancellations are simply part of the industry. So your ground transportation company has to be at least as flexible as you are in handling all these changes as quickly as possible.
The ground transportation company should view itself as your partner and understand they are integral for the success of your mission.
Your provider should be ready to answer emails and phone calls 24/7, every single day of the year, and make any necessary changes. For free. If your global provider offers you the tools to make the required itinerary changes yourself, via an app or online, without having to email or call, then even better. No time wasted, no headaches.
5) Service Cancellation. Some chauffeurs require 100% compensation for services cancelled within 24 hours before the scheduled pick-up. Their reasoning is that they made themselves available for the service and with such short notice they can’t secure another service. Other chauffeurs believe that there is no need to pay for a service that has not incurred any cost for them. If the chauffeur hasn’t left the garage, there’s no damage.
Some global service providers have a mixed policy, depending on whether the service booked was a straightforward transfer vs. an hourly disposition. Drivania Chauffeurs guarantees a zero-cancellation fee up to 2 hours before any transfer worldwide, and up to 8 hours on any hourly disposition.
6) Flight Tracking & Total Communication. Serving the business aviation community is not like handling a transfer for a commercial aviation client. In order not to incur any unnecessary extra waiting time fees, your ground transportation company must be able to follow your client’s jet, either through the various online platforms available or by remaining in constant communication with the handler, the air charter broker, the aircraft operator and/or the international mission support company. Either way, your ground transportation provider needs to have eyes on the skies and be at the pick-up location 15-20 minutes before the scheduled pick-up time.
Every person involved in the mission also needs to be kept informed on how the service is being delivered. Chauffeur details, chauffeur on the way, chauffeur ETA to pick-up location, chauffeur on location, passenger on board and service completed—your chauffeur company should be able to share all this with you and the various key mission stakeholders, including the booker, the chief pilot, the handler, the personal assistant, the scheduler, the operations director, the security officer, etc. Some companies do this via email or SMS, and others allow you to follow the vehicle on an interactive map via an online browser or an app.
7) Invoicing. You need all your suppliers to send you their invoices in a timely manner, so you can settle your own account with your client. Individual chauffeurs are not always quick at issuing invoices—we know this from experience. If your chauffeur company works with the latest technologies and there are no unforeseen extra costs to be added to the initial all-inclusive quote, there is no reason that you shouldn’t receive the invoice immediately after your client steps out of the vehicle and the ground transportation service has successfully concluded.
There are many companies that offer chauffeur services, but not all of them provide a friction-free service designed for the business aviation community that will ensure your clients’ complete satisfaction.
Make sure you choose the right partner for your own tranquility!