Tips for Reducing Convention and Meeting Transportation Costs

Shuttle transportation can be considered one of the biggest budget items for any large association that hosts sizable meetings, and as organizations are recovering from more than a year of reduced revenue during the Covid-19 pandemic, finding ways to reduce future meeting costs are top of mind for planners.  

As a ground transportation expert, Event Transportation Systems offers a few tips that can help you reduce costs for transportation without sacrificing a great attendee experience.

Plan ahead!
As the meetings industry moves forward with recovery, supply of buses and especially drivers are sure to be factors when reserving buses for large meetings and events, and this could have an impact on pricing.  This is why it’s more important than ever to contract with a transportation management company and take advantage of their relationships with bus companies to reserve buses as far in advance as possible and negotiate the best rates.

Involve the transportation company in the hotel selection
This is probably the most important tactic for creating a transportation plan that is cost effective.  Hotel selection greatly impacts route planning and can potentially add unnecessary costs. By involving an experienced transportation company in your hotel selection process, you can take advantage of their in-depth knowledge of the city and develop the most efficient routes that will save money on transportation costs.

Use shuttles as sponsorship opportunities
Daily convention shuttle buses can be lucrative “vehicles” for sponsorship revenue that can offset transportation costs. Ask your transportation management company if they offer sponsorship services such as shuttle graphics advertising or sponsored video programming.   Some transportation companies will even manage sponsorship sales to supplement your organization’s sponsorship sales efforts.

Generate income from airport transportation services
If you have been using ride-hailing services lately, you may have noticed that rates fluctuate greatly and in general have gone up during both non-peak and peak times.  Therefore, depending on the city, it may make sense to offer attendees more affordable scheduled airport transportation. Ask your transportation management company if they can manage reservations and provide revenue-sharing back to your organization. In addition, exhibitors may also be interested in sponsoring airport shuttle bus runs.

Consider eliminating transportation service on closer hotels
While your goal should be to move attendees safely and efficiently between hotels and your meeting venue, it may not be necessary to provide service to hotels located close to your meeting site. Of course, when making decisions about whether to designate some hotels as “walkable” hotels, it is important to consider the age and mobility of attendees and expected weather conditions; but your attendees may be more open to walking a few extra steps each day to meet their fitness goals.  Reducing the number of hotels on transportation routes provides yet another way to save on transportation costs.

Reduce route frequency during non-peak times
Attendees generally do not use shuttles as frequently during mid-day meeting hours, so ask your transportation management company for their expert opinion about how to create the right balance of vehicles and route frequency that can help reduce costs while providing safe and efficient service.

Event Transportation Systems, a full-service transportation management company, can help with all of these cost-saving tactics. Offerings include:

  • Meeting and convention shuttle system design and execution
  • Sponsorship programs and sales support to offset transportation costs, managed by ETS’ division, Newsday Communications
  • An attendee transportation App, “ETS-Next-Shuttle” that provides map-based, real-time shuttle pick-up times
  • Special events and tours
  • Group airport transportation
  • VIP and executive transportation

Contact us to discuss your meeting, convention or special event transportation needs.


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