Global tourism is on the rise. As travel becomes faster, cheaper, and easier to access, billions of people worldwide are setting out to explore new places. According to a study, in 2018 “it was estimated that the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide [reached] 1.4 billion.”
When you consider the sheer enormity of that number, you must also consider the vast infrastructure that needs to be in place to support those travelers. Whether a traveler arrives by plane, train, boat, or any other way, they need assistance getting from their arrival location (often an airport) to their accommodation. Include the fact that most people don’t actually enjoy the act of traveling itself, and that means their transportation needs to be fast, efficient, friendly, and stress-free.
Ground transfer and transportation services are the unsung heroes of the industry. Helping jetlagged travelers, families with fussy toddlers, or even high-profile VIP clients are all the name of the game. These travelers may be landing in a foreign country for the first time and have no idea what to expect; their first impressions and interaction will likely be with your ground transfer company. You’ll set the tone for their entire trip, and can quickly wash away any negative experiences they had before reaching their destination.
Because ground transfer and transportation services are such a crucial part of any traveler’s experience, we set out to speak with some leaders in the space—successful operators whose businesses are booming. We wanted to know how they ensure their guests’ comfort and safety, how they innovate, expand, and grow their business, and their relationship with selling their services online and embracing new technology.
We spoke with a handful of top ground transfer and transportation operators and picked their brains to provide you with some helpful tips you can use with your own business.
It’s Not Just About Getting From Point A to Point B: Go the Extra Mile (Literally) for Guests
Any little extra touch you can add to your service is likely to make an outsize impact on the guest. Remember, they’re tired, excited, or even anxious about getting to their destination, so anything you can do to make a positive impact on their experience will go a long way.
Anthony Camanelli, Owner of West Hollywood Limousine, elaborated on what his company does to add something special to their services. “To make West Hollywood Limousine stand out among all of the other transportation companies, I have thought ahead,” he said. “All drivers are 10 minutes early, also [we give out] our own bottled waters, mints, pens and water bottles.” They like to give special treatment to parents of young children who are grateful for any gesture. “It is true the families have found our service to be perfect for them and their children. Some are surprised that we provide 3 different child seats, free of charge.”
For Surf City Transfers on the Gold Coast of Australia, going the extra mile means quite literally taking the scenic route, said Karen Gritxti, Personal Booking Consultant Manager. “We have learned a lot over the years by listening to travelers wants and needs,” she said. “We are locals so we have a great knowledge of the area. For first time travelers to the Gold Coast, we usually take them for a scenic drive to their accommodation.” What better way to give travelers a way to decompress than a drive through one of the most beautiful areas in the world?
Creating a sense of trust and comfort is what Kini Kini Transfer and Tours aims for with all their guests, said Nixy Caraballo, Manager. “We pride ourselves in offering a very personal service, with friendly drivers that will make you feel at home and like you’re family,” she said. “That is what our company is all about, it’s about family and making sure that our guests are welcomed into this one happy family.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Branch Out and Introduce Tours and Activities
The nature of being a ground transfer company means having a large infrastructure in place for transporting people to different places. This presents an opportunity to expand your business to include more than just transfers. You and your employees are likely experts on your location and the best areas to see/drive through. Adding tours through scenic areas or to different landmarks is a great way to diversify your business and build your relationship even further with customers.
Yellowfish Transfers in Portugal is taking this exact path by studying market trends and beginning to take steps to introduce tours to their business model. “Up until now, Yellowfish Transfers has been operating exclusively private airport transfers,” said Hernani Sousa, Commercial and Marketing Manager. “However, being aware of the travel trends and after countless requests from our customers, we’re currently developing tour services. These tours will be focused on cultural and gastronomic experiences.”
Understanding what travelers are looking for, and using that information to develop your business, is something that Nixy Caraballo of Kini Kini Transfer and Tours also mentioned. “Focus on what makes you different and unique, and exploit that. It takes time to build an audience and time to build relationships with your customers, but dedicate time at the beginning and you will see the results later on.” Their business not only offers transfers but also has ATV tours and a 4-hour tour of the island of Aruba.
West Hollywood Limousine’s owner Anthony Camanelli said adding a tour has been one of the best ideas he’s ever had. “I planned and plotted the 22 most iconic sights in Los Angeles, and I rolled them into a 5-hour tour. It has been the biggest hit in my 27 years of business.”
Travelers are on the hunt for exciting local, authentic experiences, and the resources you have at your disposal as a ground transfer business gives you an advantage to create new offerings to your customers.
Sell Your Transfers (and Tours!) Online: Reach a Broad, Global Audience and Turn Your Positive Reviews Into Bookings
One of the most important steps your business can take is to sell your services online. Increasingly, travelers are heading to the internet as their first step before they book anything—hotel, airfare, tours and activities, and even ground transfers. If a traveler has done all their research and is booking things online for their trip, you can be sure they will also be looking to book their ground transportation online as well.
One of the biggest benefits of increasing your online presence is the power reviews have to influence bookings. Reviews are one of the most important factors for travelers when they are deciding to book. The operators we spoke with time and time again mentioned how important reviews are for their business.
“Most of our customers have been recommended by either reviews or word of mouth. Reviews have done a tremendous job for our growth,” said Caraballo.
“Customer reviews are of the utmost importance to us and deserve our fullest attention, swift response, and attention to any potential issues. We rely on our customers’ feedback to further improve our services,” said Hernani Sousa of Yellowfish Transfers.
Anthony Camanelli of West Hollywood Limousine said customer reviews are “everything to my business.” He then mentioned some ways to generate more reviews from your guests. “At the end of every tour, review card is given and most guests are eager to write about their experience on a tour.”
Selling your services and experiences online is one of the most crucial moves you can make for your business today. Unlock access to millions of travelers searching for ground transfers just like yours and start receiving more bookings.