If you have been assigned to figure out motorcoach transportation for a group, whether it’s a sports team, winery tour or family reunion, there can be a lot of legwork involved in making sure you get the best service and price. Just like shopping around for home repair contractors, it’s smart to get at least three bids from charter companies to give you an idea of a price range to expect. However, be careful who you call.
Many websites first found on search engines make it look like they own buses, but they are actually national brokers who charge a commission fee (often 25% or more) to find a company for you. Unlike these brokers, BusRates.com makes it easy for you to find actual bus-owning companies near your departure area and gives you the information to contact them directly.
The slogan of BusRates.com; contact operators directly and save money.
BusRates.com does the legwork for you by maintaining its freely searchable directory of bus-owning companies. Use our directory to contact local operators in your area. By contacting companies nearby, they will have less mileage to cover without passengers (this is called deadhead), meaning they won’t need to build unnecessary travel time into their quote. Just input your state or province (Canada territories are listed, too!) and closest city on the homepage of BusRates.com to view profiles of each bus operator in your area.
Companies provide their fleet information and easy contact info, including phone, email and website address, in the upper right of their profile. Group leaders have also submitted reviews on the bus companies listed in our directory to help you make an informed choice when shopping around.
A sample bus operator profile; contact info upper-right near bus photo, USDOT links upper-left under the address.
In order to avoid broker markup fees and ensure you book with a bus-owning company, look for the hints. There are several tell-tale signs to determine if you are dealing with a bus-owning company, or if you may be dealing with someone who will subcontract, or “farm out,” the trip to another operator.
Firstly, examine the company’s website. Make sure they have actual photos of their equipment. If you see magazine-style photos or buses without company logos on them, ask the company for an actual photo of their equipment. Alternatively, depending on how close they are to your location, ask if you can stop by to take a look at the bus. Charter operators are proud of their equipment and would love to share their passion and answer specific questions about their fleet for you, so a visit to view the equipment shouldn’t be out of the question.
Secondly, take a gander at their USDOT (United States Department of Transportation) registry and insurance information. This is linked in the top left of every operator profile on BusRates.com, but you can also use our guide to determining operating authority if you find an operator not currently listed in our directory. If they don’t have active authority, it’s illegal for them to operate a motorcoach. That’s proof your trip is being subcontracted.
Thirdly, the price quote should be an indicator as to whether a broker is raking you over the coals, or if an actual bus-owning operator is quoting a fair price. Keep in mind that new model, quality motorcoaches are a luxurious form of travel and remember that fuel isn’t exactly cheap, so it’s also wise to be wary of prices that seem too good to be true. Often a low-ball price can indicate less-than-adequate equipment may be used. We’ve heard horror stories of customers not doing any research and agreeing to the lowest price, only to end up realizing they booked through a broker and ended up with a ratty school bus even though they were promised a deluxe motorcoach.
To make sure you ask the right questions, do your homework and check out our Group Planner’s Charter Guide for info on the top ten things to ask before chartering a bus, the top ten things you can avoid, and many other great resources.
If you have any questions about aspects of renting a motorcoach, please feel free to contact the BusRates.com team. Our mission is to facilitate direct contact between you, the group planner, and the bus-owning company, in order to help you find the company best suited for your group; and to get your pricing, information and all other details straight from the source. Thank you for using BusRates.com!