Transportation, whether air or ground, is a fundamental aspect of any meeting or event that should be a pillar of pre-planning and not an afterthought. The thing about transportation is that it is the very first and last impression for attendees. They are hopping on a flight, getting into a private vehicle at the airport, boarding a motor coach to the offsite event and then again to get back to the airport for their departing flight. Even though this component of the event isn’t glamorous, it’s incredibly important and if it’s not managed correctly can become a staining memory on the guest experience.
Below are four tips to successfully plan a transportation movement for your attendees.
One: Book Early and Reduce Later
As we know, people cancel last minute and therefore vehicle sizes could change, but the best plan of action is to book the vehicles you think you’ll need as soon as possible and cancel the extras later. This is true in any city but especially Austin and especially during March and October. Our slogan may be “Everything’s Bigger in Texas”, however our Austin fleets are not. For large movements, our transportation partners often must collaborate with multiple different companies, and sometimes even from other cities, to meet the growing demand of event transportation needs.
We can help negotiate with our transportation partners so we set the expectation from the beginning that reductions may occur. This is a cautious and safe method to guarantee all the vehicles you need will be available when you need them.
Two: Permits Are First Come, First Serve
It is important to know what other festivities are occurring in the city around your event date to know how early to act. If you need to permit a street for your event, then put your deposit down as soon as possible.
In the past, we had a client that wanted to move 1,500 guests from their hotel to the offsite venue in a swift 30-minute period. This meant that we needed to permit a parking lot near the hotel to stage motor coaches so the flow of vehicles would be continuous. We reached out early and expressed interest in the lot, however another company expressed interest in permitting the lot for their outdoor event soon after. We expressed interest first and were able to secure it for our client, but if we had waited just two more weeks, the lot would have been gone which would have made the transfer to the offsite venue not as smooth.
Three: Leave the Logistics to Us
Manifests, flight changes and drivers, oh my. Where others may leave their desk for another cup of coffee at the sight of a manifest, we thrive. Our processes, templates and well-trained staff organize messy worksheets into digestible documents everyone can easily read.
We take complicated flight documents, sort, color code and return them into perfectly readable formats that allows for updates to be easily seen and both the onsite staff and client to be fully aware of incoming travelers, at any time of the day.
Three: The More Staff, The More Smiles
The more staff, the better- always. Worst case scenario, it is one more person with a smiling face holding your company’s logo, guiding guests in the right direction. Best case scenario, there are more staff onsite to assist in troubleshooting last minute issues that arise.
For large airport arrivals specifically, we like to have a staff at every turn to make sure guests don’t wander on their way to their vehicle. There are two escalators in the Austin Bergstrom International Airport that move the masses to baggage claim. We stage a staff member at the bottom of each escalator, two to three staff at the check-in desk, a staff at the door, a staff at the busses and a staff at the hotel. All staff are connected through a city-wide radio for information to be shared instantly and efficiently.
Four: Expectation is Key
While we do work miracles, we cannot change Austin traffic or negotiate with Mother Nature. We set realistic expectations with our clients so they can prepare their guests. Our goal is always to exceed that expectation rather than to overpromise and underdeliver.
If we set the expectation that it will take 45 minutes to transfer from the airport to the hotel and there happens to not be any traffic that day and it only takes 20 minutes to get to the hotel, then everyone is happy. If we set the expectation from the beginning that it will only take 20 minutes to get to the hotel and there is traffic, then the attendee feels robbed of their time and begins their experience negatively.
We are a team working together to ensure that you and your attendees happy. We strive for perfection and settle for nothing short of remarkable. As the event industry changes along with the rest of the world this year, we are changing our systems and templates to reflect that. Transportation is no exception.