Event planners sometimes view transportation as an afterthought during the planning process, even though getting attendees or guests to an event is their first touchpoint.  Here are some tips on how to plan the best transportation experience. 

Move transportation up your priority list – Often transportation is low on a planner’s priority list. Transportation is viewed specifically as a vehicle getting from point A to point B, and not from an expertise perspective, or as part of the event design.  There is no event without attendees and you need to partner with a great provider to get them there.  

Have a realistic budget – Transportation is the first thing and the last thing guest or attendees experience.  Take time and energy up front to understand cost and budget properly. 

Know who is driving you – Your transportation provider should be licensed and insured.  Ask for their state and or federal operating DOT number.  Ask to see a copy of their insurance certificate.  In Minnesota, a licensed chauffeured transportation provider is required to carry a $1.5 or $5 million liability policy on all vehicles, depending on size.  Ask what type of background checks and screening chauffeurs are subject to.  As the planner, you are entrusting that your attendees will be transported safely.  It’s you right and responsibility to know who’s driving you. 

Onsite coordinators are crucial to success  Event planners have many responsibilities.  Managing transportation shouldn’t be another one.  Planners may think that onsite coordination is not within their budget. Having professionals onsite assisting with loading passengers, staging vehicles, and managing chauffeurs can elevate the attendee transportation experience and improve ROI.
 
Use a company that has a large fleet – By using a company that has a large fleet you can diversify the types of vehicles you utilize for the event.  Smaller sprinter vans can be used for airport arrivals and departures, mini coaches for shuttling to meetings and large motor coaches for evening events.  Contracting a company with a large fleet can also accommodate last minute changes and a contingency plan. 

Align with a knowledgeable transportation company – Look for a chauffeured services company with services and team members who understand the event industry. The ground transportation needs of an individual traveler are different than those of a planner.  Look for a company with an executive team who understands a planner’s needs, speaks their language, and can accommodate them.

Transportation technology can make your job easier – Ask what types of event technology the transportation company uses.  Can the transportation provider offer you a group coordinator assigned to your event?  Do they offer group reservation manifest? Can they create care alerts for you that text or email you an alert when a vehicle is 15 minutes out, when the vehicle is on site and when the passengers are on board?

Understand the variables – Often, planners have contingency plans for venues, speakers and other event elements, but they often don’t have a backup plan for transportation.  Transportation companies deal with traffic, construction, the weather, and airlines making last minute changes. One of the easiest ways to deal with these obstacles is to budget for vehicle for back up. 

Nicole French, CMP, VP of Sales & Marketing, Premier Transportation is a certified meeting planner with 15 years of industry experience.  She is a member of the International Live Events Association (ILEA) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) having held Board positions with both organizations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapters.

International Live Events Association (ILEA) is the new name for the International Special Events Society (ISES). ILEA represents and supports more than 5,000 members globally - event professionals who do business together, share knowledge, nurture talent and progress the live events industry. For more information on how an ILEA professional can help you with your event, please contact info@ilea-msp.org.
 

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