Planning Group Travel Has Never Been Easier
by: Michael Campos, Assistant Editor, Limousine, Charter & Tour Magazine
THE AMERICAN BUS ASSOCIATION, ONTARIO MOTOR COACH ASSOCIATION, AND UNITED MOTORCOACH ASSOCIATION HAVE LAUNCHED WEBSITES TO CONNECT TRAVEL SERVICES WITH THE CLIENTS LOOKING FOR THEM.
In 2005, the United Motorcoach association launched BusRates.com to offer an easier way for group-travel planners to find bus companies. In 2009, the American Bus Association joined with the Ontario Motor Coach Association to launch GroupConnect.com, their portal for group-travel planners.
Both websites have evolved since their inception and offer more planning tools and options to benefit clients and operators alike. The philosophy behind them is simple: the easier it is for a client to book coaches and other group travel services from the same portal, the more likely they are to choose motorcoach travel over other modes of transportation.
BusRates.com, which receives nearly 100,000 visitors each month, sports an easy-to-use interface for clients searching for coach operators, hotel accommodations, restaurants, attractions, events, and other group activities.
“Our goal is not only to make it easy for our visitors to fulfill their group travel needs, but also to let them find out more about each company by directing them to a website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and/or review past customer reviews,” says Eric Elliott, program manager for BusRates.com.
“We encourage user reviews to help future customers navigate the choices available to them,” BusRates CEO Victor Parra says.
Dan Goff of A Goff Transportation in Charlottesville, Va. first came across BusRates.com when its ads popped up as competitors on sites where he already advertised. “I understand the benefit of referral networks, so I bought some advertising and received some work the first year,” he says.
“The following year, I bought the dominant ad in each of the markets we service, and I saw a very significant increase in the amount of work we received. I’m very pleased with BusRates.com because it has very active managers who don’t shy away from problems. When I had an incident with a competitor bashing my company by posting negative reviews on the site, I notified BusRates and they did a thorough, multi-day investigation to find the fraud and correct it. I find it a very valuable site and would recommend them to anyone.”
84% of Americans are influenced by online customer reviews, according to an Opinion Research Corp. survey.