Executive & VIP Transportation: What You Should Know
By Julia Friesen, Senior Program Manager and Resident Expert on Executive Transportation
We all know that executives and VIPs are a valuable piece of the overall event puzzle, but they aren’t always easy to manage. Their demanding schedules mean last-minute changes are inevitable. For an event or meeting planner in charge of a multitude of other details, keeping up with those changes can be overwhelming. And it’s safe to say that no one wants an unhappy executive or VIP on their hands. When the stakes are high and top-notch service is expected, it often makes sense to outsource executive transportation.
Executive schedule changes are going to happen. And if you’ve got 200 executives to worry about, you can easily be consumed by managing it all. There are non-stop calls, a blast of emails and text messages changing pick-up and drop-off times, just to name a few! To further complicate things, you are usually dealing with the executive assistant, which can add another layer of potential miscommunication. Dedicating one person (maybe two!) to the oversight of this process is not just ideal, it’s essential. It is an extremely time-consuming job (we cannot emphasize that enough!). If it’s not possible for someone on your team to supervise the executive piece of the event, then it may be wise to hand it over to a third-party.
Hiring a transportation management company can save you time by freeing you up to manage the rest of the event. More than likely, a Program Manager (PM) will be assigned to exclusively handle executive transportation. A seasoned PM should be able to anticipate changes, adapt quickly and have a plan B and a plan C ready to execute. Dedicating one professional to the process also helps ensure that information and status changes are not lost during driver shift changes, car replacements or any other potential disruption in service.
The Right Match
Unfamiliar markets and vendors can be a meeting planner’s worst nightmare. Choosing the right car company to move your VIPs/executives isn’t something to gamble with. It’s important to work with a company that matches well with your event and executives. Vetting a car company, its drivers and experience can be a time-consuming process. It often requires driver interviews, sometimes background checks and an inspection of their fleet.
If you do decide to book directly with a car company, you should request detailed information about their experience with similar transportation programs. You should also bear in mind that car companies want to get the most out of their vehicles and their drivers. If your executive is scheduled for a 1:00 pm airport pick-up but due to a flight delay, didn’t land until 1:30 pm, that driver may not be able to wait. He may have another pick-up scheduled for 2:00 pm. If there are no other cars available to replace him, then you’ve got a problem.
[Shameless plug] Of course, you can always call us! We’ve got an amazing network of vendors that we know and trust. We also book larger volumes of business with many of these car companies multiple times a year. They appreciate our business and we can’t do it without them. Together, we can come up with the best solution for you.
Knowing the Customer
Like most things, a one-size-fits-all approach to executive/VIP transportation doesn’t always apply. However you decide to handle it, communication with your vendor or transportation management company is extremely important. Make sure they are aware of any special requests, schedule changes or details ahead of time. Although we communicate directly with the executive prior to and during the event, any additional information you can provide helps us to do our job better. We also work with our clients so that we can understand the nuances of their event and attendees. This allows us to make decisions and react to last minute changes most efficiently.
Executive/VIP transportation can oftentimes be more complicated than managing transportation for 20,000 people, but it doesn’t have to be. Determining whether you have the resources to handle it yourself or if you need to hire a professional to oversee the process is a good first step.