The pandemic hit the transportation industry particularly hard. In many ways, it’s still struggling to return to what we used to know as normal before Covid. Despite a great deal of progress and effort, due to external forces, it’s still working to rebound. However, we will share a bit of background information along with tips to help you seamlessly navigate around current industry hiccups.

 

Bus inventory is at an all-time low

Businesses were put in a position to minimize their spending during the shutdown and that includes bus companies. They were forced to reduce their fleet drastically during the pandemic to eliminate insurance expenses as a means to stay afloat. Currently, the available inventory of motorcoaches in the US is almost 50% of what it was pre-Covid. Additionally, like in many other industries, there is a labor shortage. Even if more buses were to come back “on,” there are not enough drivers to support the level of work.

 

Prices are at an all-time high

The pandemic and the current state of the economy have caused an increase in the cost of everything, including bus services. With fewer buses available and greater demand, you can expect higher costs; both hourly rates and daily rates have increased.

 

Inconsistent Fuel Surcharges

You’ve seen the headlines and you too are likely feeling the pain at the pump. We expect that fuel prices will continue to fluctuate throughout 2022 and according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, we won’t see a substantial drop until 2023.

Fuel surcharges are extremely vague and differ across different companies. We have seen fuel surcharges as high as 20%. Here at TMS, we assess the fuel surcharge on the first day of service. We monitor the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s website for updates and use the most recent rate for the region where the meeting/event is being held.

Even if you have an event scheduled in 2022 and you already have buses lined up, you should expect a cost adjustment to reflect the presently unpredictable cost of fuel surcharges.

The pandemic hit the transportation industry particularly hard. In many ways, it’s still struggling to return to what we used to know as normal before Covid. Despite a great deal of progress and effort, due to external forces, it’s still working to rebound. However, we will share a bit of background information along with tips to help you seamlessly navigate around current industry hiccups.

What you can do to help keep costs down:
  • Book and finalize your transportation early

Gone are the days of leaving transportation to the last check box on your to-do list. Put the transportation needs for your show on our radar even if you don’t have everything finalized yet.

 

  • Budget accordingly

We have lengthy experience working on a variety of events and are happy to share the lessons we’ve learned along the way. We’re also glad to share our knowledge on pricing. So as a best practice, use us as a resource to budget and plan for your upcoming shows.

 

  • Time is of the essence

Don’t hesitate on finalizing your transportation decision. The earlier you complete your transportation contract, the faster we’re capable of booking your buses and locking in your rates. We always allow you to make adjustments to your bus needs right up until a few weeks prior to the event.

 

  • Get creative with your schedule

Due to the current state of driver & vehicle demand, scheduling is very important. Below are some examples of how to tweak your scheduling:

  • Keep transportation service needs to 12 to 13 hours per day. This eliminates the need for relief drivers and vehicles. Utilizing one set of vehicles and drivers eliminates additional costs incurred when needing relief service.
  • Allow at least an 8-hour gap between your evening and following morning service. This method of planning brings cost-saving benefits to you. Drivers are required to have 8 hours off between shifts. By allowing for this 8 hour window, we’re able to utilize one set of drivers and buses- thereby drastically reducing costs.
  • Utilize venues within walking distance for large off-site events whenever possible. Due to the current state of supply and demand, finding as many as 50 buses for an evening event is extremely difficult and costly.

 

  • Keep your requests for proposal uniform and tidy

If you’re sending out your request for proposal to multiple providers, clearly state the proposed timing for each day, desired frequency of service (interval), number of days etc. This allows the selected providers to bid on the exact same requirements allowing you to compare “apples to apples” and making the review process a lot easier.

More information is always better. We ideally want as much information as you can provide. It’s extra helpful to submit your “Schedule-At-A-Glance” to vendors so that they can see when opening ceremonies or plenary session times are on any given day. Doing so allows vendors to properly schedule the service during peak hours with high ridership.

Provide vendor(s) with any historical data and past ridership reports. This will allow for more accurate bus numbers based on ratio of riders to hotel room accommodations.

When sending hotel arrangements in the requests for proposal, include the street address of the hotel as some cities have hotels with similar names or company affiliations. Supplying the address will help clarify which hotel is the correct one. Additionally, it is very helpful to see peak room block periods for the duration of the meeting as it may help to reduce costs on days that have less occupancy.

Be receptive during vendor interactions. Our feedback can help shape your transportation program in the most efficient way possible leading to cost-saving benefits by exploring options like:

  • Frequency vs Ridership
  • Vehicle Types
  • Venues
  • Hotel Consolidation

The next time you start planning an event, keep this framework in mind to help improve your process and your bottom line. Scheduling transportation for an event doesn’t have to be a complex process. We’re here to help. If you would like any first-hand suggestions or feedback on an event you’re working on, we would be happy to assist you. Reach out to us at info@tms.com with any questions you may have.