Limousine, Charter & Tour Feature Planning Group Travel Has Never Been Easier

This article was originally featured here: https://www.busrates.com/blog/planning-group-travel

It is being republished for our

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

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 activites.

“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, porgram manager for BusRates.com.

“We encourage user reviews to help future customers navigate the choices available to them,” BusRates CEO Victor Parra says.

 

BusRates.com User Features

  • Free to access.
  • Search for bus companies that offer group charters and own their buses.
  • Search by bus type, location, or company name.
  • Bus types: charter bus, minibus, school bus, Entertainer, Executive, limo bus, party bus, trolley, double decker, van, transit bus, tour operator.
  • Search for hotels, attractions, events and restaurants with National Tour Association membership.
  • Build customized itinerary.
  • Customer review and testimonials section.
  • Company descriptions, DOT safety ratings, websites, phone numbers, and email addresses.

 

BusRates.com Operator/Service Provider Features

  • Different paid ad positions.
  • Free one-month directory listing at the end of which BusRates will email the operator a summary traffic report to assess the benefit of joining the directory.
  • Post information such as fleet size, vehicle types, vehicle specs and amenities.
  • Post general rates, custom quotes, and inventory.

 

How Well Does it Work?

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.”

 

BusRates.com does not list:

  • Brokers or middlemen.
  • Fixed route/single passenger tickets.
  • Public transportation.
  • School bus companies that do not charter to the public.
  • Tourism and travel suppliers who are not members of NTA.

 

Monthly BusRates.com Visitors from June 2010 to May 2011:

  • May: 124,352
  • April: 121,163
  • March: 132,033
  • February: 106,399
  • January: 119,468
  • December: 80,777
  • November: 96,604
  • October: 100,052
  • September: 107,961
  • August: 107,771
  • July: 113,090
  • June: 107,509

 

DID YOU KNOW?

84% of Americans are influenced by online customer reviews, according to an Opinion Research Corp. survey.

Limousine, Charter and Tour Feature

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

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.

BusRates.com User Features

  • Free to access.
  • Search for bus companies that offer group charters and own their buses.
  • Search by bus type, location, or company name.
  • Bus types: charter bus, minibus, school bus, Entertainer, Executive, limo bus, party bus, trolley, double decker, van, transit bus, tour operator.
  • Search for hotels, attractions, events and restaurants with National Tour Association membership.
  • Build customized itinerary.
  • Customer review and testimonials section.
  • Company descriptions, DOT safety ratings, websites, phone numbers, and email addresses.

BusRates.com Operator/Service Provider Features

  • Different paid ad positions.
  • Free one-month directory listing at the end of which BusRates will email the operator a summary traffic report to assess the benefit of joining the directory.
  • Post information such as fleet size, vehicle types, vehicle specs and amenities.
  • Post general rates, custom quotes, and inventory.

How Well Does it Work?

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.”

BusRates.com does not list:

  • Brokers or middlemen.
  • Fixed route/single passenger tickets.
  • Public transportation.
  • School bus companies that do not charter to the public.
  • Tourism and travel suppliers who are not members of NTA.

Monthly BusRates.com Visitors from June 2010 to May 2011:

  • May: 124,352
  • April: 121,163
  • March: 132,033
  • February: 106,399
  • January: 119,468
  • December: 80,777
  • November: 96,604
  • October: 100,052
  • September: 107,961
  • August: 107,771
  • July: 113,090
  • June: 107,509

DID YOU KNOW?

84% of Americans are influenced by online customer reviews, according to an Opinion Research Corp. survey.

BusRates.com Implements ‘All-Encompassing’ Website

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — BusRates.com launched a much expanded and revamped website last month.

Working with NTA and the United Motorcoach Association, the site has been expanded to include a wider spectrum of the group travel market, offering listings for hotels, restaurants, attractions, events and other group activities. (See April 15 Bus & Motorcoach News.)

Until now, the site has been a directory solely of bus and motorcoach companies used by group travel planners and individuals looking to charter a bus.

Launched six years ago, the site has become an overwhelming success, drawing visits by more than 100,000 group travel planners monthly.

With the addition of travel industry supplier listings, the site has increased from 1,000 listings to more than 7,500, making it a more comprehensive resource aimed at making planning for a motorcoach trip easier and less time consuming.

“We are excited to be providing a straightforward, all-encompassing process for group planners and tour operators to find new group destinations for their travelers,” said Eric Elliott, program manager for BusRates.com.

“When our customers started looking for the group contacts for hotels, restaurants, attractions, and the like, we knew a change was needed and began to work with our partners at NTA to make BusRates.com a more full-service resource.”

In addition to expanding its reach, the site has also gone through a redesign to improve operability for both users and subscribers.

Expanded maps and featured content on the site help users learn about the options for a given destination, and listed companies now have the ability to post more images, brochures and social media links to enhance their listing.

“These enhancements improve the user’s experience by allowing them to more easily find the bus company and other travel suppliers with whom they want to do business,” said Elliott.

“They can now see more detailed search results, photos and see other customers’ reviews to quickly and easily make an informed decision when booking their group travel.”

To learn more and find your local charter bus rental operator, visit  www.BusRates.com.

BusRates.com Expands to Full-Service Travel Website

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – BusRates.com, which for the past six years has been putting thousands of travel planners in touch with motorcoach companies, is expanding its scope to become a full-service resource for the travel industry.

Planners not only will be able to line up a motorcoach for a charter but they’ll also be able to use the site to collect all of the information needed to book reservations at hotels and restaurants, locate ticket information for events, and find out what activities are available along their route.

“When our customers started looking for the group contacts for hotels, restaurants, attractions and other activities, we knew a change was needed,” said BusRates program manager Eric Elliott.

“We set out to create a site that makes planning a complete motorcoach trip easier and less time consuming.”

He said the new offerings, which are being introduced this month, will turn the BusRates website into a full-service travel center.

“Travel planners will have an easy group travel directory where they can find telephone, email and website information for any participating NTA member and can build an entire itinerary that can be submitted directly from BusRates.com to all requested companies,” he explained.

NTA, formerly the National Tour Association and the organization of professionals who serve the travel industry throughout North America, is a partner of BusRates.com, which is owned by the United Motorcoach Association.

Elliott said the site also is being expanded to include maps and feature content that will help planners locate restaurants, attractions and events that are near certain hotels.

The new offerings will join a successful addition to the website that was introduced nearly two years ago — a customer review section.

“In the past year, the site has seen customer reviews increase by more than 150 percent. This is exciting for BusRates.com as it shows how our customers care to educate other group travel planners about each listed company. It brings a community feeling to the site,” Elliott said.

Founded in 2005, BusRates.com has grown rapidly into an industry leader with visits from more than 1.2 million travel planners and tour operators annually.

Last month, the site drew more than 4,000 visitors on several days, and the number of requests for quotes also climbed to new highs.

“We have been blown away with the increased site traffic and the number of requests for quotes coming in,” said Elliott. “The site traffic has been growing by leaps and bounds and it seems that each week outperforms the week before. There is obviously a need by group travel planners to find motorcoach operators for their trips, and we are happy they have found BusRates.com to help them with their planning.”

Many of the planners seeking information and booking motorcoaches are from foreign countries, including Canada, Japan and most of the European nations.

Elliott said BusRates.com has positioned itself as an industry leader by offering its resources free to group planners and optimizing the use of web search engines so it consistently ranks in the top three spots for hundreds of different keyword searches on Google, Yahoo!, Bing and other search engines.

“Visibility is the key to BusRates.com’s success and the reason why we have been able to bring new business opportunities to tour and travel industry companies,” he noted.

Elliott said the website also provides a big bonus for companies that already have a strong web presence by giving them a new online path for them to reach new customers.

“This is where BusRates.com has flourished as a resource for large companies,” he said. “The site provides them with additional exposure to over a million visitors annually who might not see them elsewhere.”

Motorcoach operators interested in being listed on the BusRates.com site can sign up for a one-month free trial. For information, call (866) 375-0800, or send an e-mail to eric.elliott@busrates.com.

BusRates.com Internet Traffic Reaches Record

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – BusRates.com has retained a tourism and hospitality marketing firm to promote expansion of its popular website to include tourism suppliers.

The hiring of Mills Marketing Group comes as internet traffic on BusRates.com climbed to record highs in March.

The motorcoach travel website drew 4,416 unique visitors on one day in March, the highest single-day total in the site’s history. Two other days last month ranked as having the second- and third-highest number of daily visitors with 4,088 and 4,082 visitors, respectively.

Two other days in March made the Top 10 list of highest number of daily visitors, making March the best month ever for BusRates.

Additionally, the site hit a single-day milestone with the highest number of requests for quotes received. RFQs were received from 221 group travel planners, resulting in a total of more than 1,000 quote requests being sent out from the site to motorcoach operators.

“We have been blown away this month with the increased site traffic and the number of RFQs coming in,” said Eric Elliott, program manager for BusRates.com.

“The site traffic has been growing by leaps and bounds and it seems that each week outperforms the week before. There’s obviously a need by group travel planners to find motorcoach operators for their trips and we are happy they have found BusRates.com to help them with their planning.”

Meanwhile, BusRates.com has hired Mills Marketing, led by hospitality industry veteran, Jeffrey Mills, to promote the site to tourism suppliers.

Mills’ background includes three years as vice president of sales at Atlanta’s DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Jeff brings invaluable knowledge and relationships within the hospitality and tourism industry and we are thrilled to have him working on behalf of BusRates.com,” said Elliott. “When our customers started looking for the group contacts for hotels, restaurants, and attractions, we set out to create a site that makes planning a complete motorcoach trip easier and less time consuming.

“We have done that now and with Jeff’s help, we will get the word out to tourism suppliers that BusRates.com is the place to be.”

Mills said that BusRates.com can help tourism industry suppliers gain immediate exposure to buyers and “that’s a very exciting message to be sharing.”