Selecting a motorcoach company to provide your transportation needs should not be difficult. In fact, the decision you make should be based on what common sense dictates – safety, customer service, dependability, equipment, and price.
While price is important, the cost of service should include the confidence that safety, driver competence, vehicle integrity, cleanliness, and customer service expectations can and will be met.
When contracting services, ask the following questions of your motorcoach company:
How long have you been in business?
A company that has been in business for a while will have established a reputation in the local market and nationally.
How big is the company’s fleet?
Bigger is not necessarily better, but smaller companies may have more of a challenge maintaining vehicles and meeting needs for larger moves
What is the company’s DOT safety rating?
The federal Department of Transportation regularly inspects motorcoach operators to assure passenger safety. An operator should be able to tell you about their safety rating, but you can learn detailed information about any company’s performance at the DOT website.(www.dot.gov)
Is insurance coverage in place?
Ask for evidence of adequate insurance coverage, including liability coverage of at least $5 million.
What systems are in place to deal with unexpected delays?
Even the best maintained of vehicles will break down or are damaged occasionally. The best operators, especially all members of the International Motorcoach Group, will have plans in place to get vehicles repaired or replaced quickly, minimizing disruption to any trip.
What is the average age of the fleet?
This is not the most important issue, but you do want to get a sense the operator is investing in their fleet. Better operators will have a portion of their fleet that is within a few years old. While newer vehicles will have better amenities, the average age of motorcoaches in the United States is about 10 years old. A well maintained vehicle can operate safely for well beyond this period.
What vehicle options are available?
Your group size and the type of trip you are taking will make a difference in the type of vehicle you use. Explore this with your sales person. Be sure to ask for the ability to provide wheelchair lifts if there are needs to support special needs passengers as well.
Describe driver training?
Drivers should be properly licensed, and trained regularly on DOT regulations, safety measures and customer service. Drivers should also be properly attired in a company uniform. These things speak volumes about company attitudes and standards.
Is drug and alcohol testing performed?
Do not contract with an operator that cannot provide evidence of a drug and alcohol testing program. Not only is this a federal requirement, but this measure also helps to assure the safety of all passengers on your trip.
Did your sales person return your call or get back to you with follow up information answer questions promptly?
Your sales person should be eager to earn your business and ensure your satisfaction. One way to determine how well served you will be throughout your trip is the promptness of obtaining a quote or getting follow up information.
How will the trip be priced?
Several variables will go into determining the price of your trip. Most trips will be based on miles traveled or the number of hours; other elements include the time of the year, the day of the week and fluctuations in the price of fuel.
What are policies for deposits, refunds, cancellations and final payment?
In most cases, vehicles will not be held until a deposit is received, and a trip may be canceled if final payment is not received timely. Refund and cancellation policies will also vary from company to company.
Are there any add-on costs?
Discuss this with your sales person. There may be tolls, taxes or permit fees on the way to your destination. You will also want to understand what the coach company’s policy is with respect to smoking, alcoholic beverages and food on the vehicles. If applicable, you will also want to discuss how the cost of driver accommodations and meals will be handled.