February 1, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO – The United Motorcoach Association and BusRates.com have announced a strategic partnership that will allow UMA operator members to join BusRates.com at reduced rates.
The partnership is expected to help UMA members grow their businesses because of the proven lead generating capabilities of BusRates.com, while the deal will provide BusRates.com with additional resources that will help it achieve wider market and internet penetration.
The partnership was announced at the opening session of UMA Motorcoach Expo here late last month.
BusRates.com, which was founded four years ago by company president Mark Greer, strives to be the most current, complete and categorized database of charter bus companies available on the internet.
It is a leading resource for anyone needing to charter a bus but it is particularly valuable to the travel professional, offering help on all aspects motorcoach chartering.
Currently, upwards of 80,000 visitors and more than $20 million in potential charter work pass through the BusRates.com Website monthly.
“Partnering with BusRates.com will bring greater exposure to UMA operators, as well as help inform customers of the fact that UMA operators are typically higher in quality than other bus companies,” said UMA President and CEO Victor Parra.
“UMA operators that decide to post on the BusRates.com site should receive a windfall of new customers at a cost that could be considered a steal,” Parra added.
Aside from delivering more business to UMA-member bus companies, the partnership also should help advance the cause of making the bus chartering experience better for customers, said Greer.
“Increased reach on the internet, as well as increased consumer awareness will point more customers towards quality UMA operators and make the customers’ experience better for them,” he said.
And, from the bus owner’s perspective, “one way to reduce unpaid trips and increase communication with the customer is to work with your customers directly, and that is truly the underlying mutual goal of this partnership,” Greer added.
Working directly with customers is one of the hallmarks of BusRates.com. Unlike bus brokers, which frequently attempt to keep customers as far away from the bus operator as possible, BusRates.com directly links bus companies and potential customers. It is for that reason and others that BusRates.com is held in such high regard by hundreds of coach operators.
“The partnership creates an additional incentive for bus companies to join UMA,” said Greer. “Non-members that post on BusRates.com will want to be able to display the UMA membership logo to attract customers. Increased UMA membership will improve the association’s ability to represent the industry in Washington, as well as in the discovery of new ways to deliver better service.”
In the days following the announcement, Greer said he spoke with operators who had misgivings about the partnership. “So much for BusRates.com being a hidden gem,” one operator told Greer.
“There appears to be concern among currently posting members on BusRates.com that inviting the other members to join will dilute their current traffic levels. There is no reason for concern because as the number of advertisers increases, so does the amount of traffic.
“A random company in Atlanta that received 19 quote requests in September of 2007, received 13 the year before for the same month and 7 the year before that in 2005.
“More advertisers also makes the site more informative and useful to its visitors which would increase usage and return rates – another way to increase customers without paying for more traffic,” Greer explained.
“Partnering with UMA helps make BusRates.com the best site it can be for customers. It is also worth noting, that neither UMA nor BusRates.com is intended to create competition among bus owning companies. Rather it was created as a collaborative effort to work together.
“As a marketing alliance, together we can advertise head to head with national broker outfits on the internet, and get the word out to customers that the advertising slogans used by brokers — “At no cost to you” and “We are not brokers” — are completely false.”