As meetings and events have resumed, we’ve noticed some challenges relating to transportation planning that meeting planners should be aware of.
The pandemic decimated the motorcoach industry, resulting in a shrinking pool of operators, drivers and vehicles available for meetings and events. Even in cases where these businesses still have good vehicle inventory, the challenges of getting enough drivers continues. The driver shortage has been an issue prior to the pandemic, but it worsened significantly as drivers sought employment elsewhere while their employers were shut down or had limited operations, and then they did not return to driving. In addition, during this inflationary period, the cost of diesel is rising at an even greater rate than gasoline or other commodities, which is driving up daily rates for vehicles.
What does this mean for meeting and event planners?
- Start planning transportation for your meeting or event as far in advance as possible. This will allow your transportation management company to secure rates and hold buses, even if attendance numbers are only an estimate.
- Expect vehicle rates to rise, based on the following reasons:
- Bus companies need to pay higher wages to attract drivers
- There is more competition to secure the limited equipment available
- Higher interest rates mean a higher cost of ownership for new buses
- With the price of diesel surging, and potential shortages on the way, additional costs pertaining to fuel are unavoidable. Therefore, fuel surcharges will apply in the near to mid-term and planners should budget accordingly. Event Transportation Systems (ETS) includes a fuel surcharge schedule that allow planners to budget for potential Diesel cost increases, so additional charges are not a surprise.
- DO expect your transportation management company to continue to provide safe, clean, and modern buses with experienced drivers, but understand that they may need to use new, or some non-local vendors. There’s a lot more competition for fewer buses especially during the spring and fall.
- Think about whether you can shift your meeting to non-peak times of the year when bus companies are likely to have more vehicle and driver availability. We normally recommend at least a 3- to 6-month lead time for transportation planning, depending on the size of your meeting. During peak seasons, planning even further out is recommended.
- Consider whether your event overlaps with other major events in your destination city. Major sporting events, music festivals, and other large events that require shuttles can lead to excessive competition to secure buses, resulting in higher costs.
- Talk to your transportation management company about how to design the most efficient transportation system for your meeting. ETS can help with hotel selection to minimize your shuttle costs while providing the same level of service.
Keeping these points in mind and planning ahead will hopefully result in less stress and no surprises as you plan and execute your meeting.
About Event Transportation Systems (ETS)
Event Transportation Systems (ETS) is a trusted, nationwide, full-service ground transportation company providing customized and reliable transportation planning and management services delivered by professionals with more than 35 years of industry experience.
ETS provides the experience and professionalism that our clients can rely on time and time again to support successful events and meetings. Contact us for a free consultation.