Building Strong Partnerships Between Tour and Motorcoach Operators
In October 2018, the American Bus Association-affiliated Bus Industry Safety Council asked SYTA to provide ABA members with feedback from SYTA member tour operators and receptive tour operators.
To provide accurate feedback, the BISC leadership team gave SYTA six questions to be asked of its members. SYTA's Safety Committee decided to capitalize on the opportunity, developing four additional questions intended to help improve the working relationships between student tour operators and motorcoach operators. Strong communication between these two businesses is vital to the success of any student tour group's overall trip satisfaction.
On January 25, 2019, the results of the survey were presented during the ABA Marketplace in Louisville, Kentucky. Justin Shuler, President of Group Travel Network, and current SYTA President, and Michael Bowers, Founder of and Safety Consultant with the Center for Student Travel Safety (CSTS), delivered the related PowerPoint presentation.
The 10 questions presented:
1. Is your company familiar with the ELD Mandate?
2. Do you know what the current hours of service limits are for motorcoach operator in the U.S.?
3. Do you know what the current hours of service limits are for motorcoach operator in Canada?
4. How has your trip planning been impacted since ELDs became required for motorcoach operators?
5. Have you been on any trips without any sort of electronic logging device?
6. Have you been on trips where motorcoach drivers were still using paper logs? If so, do you know the reason?
7. What would you like to share with motorcoach operators that attributes to the overall success of your tours?
8. What constructive feedback would you give motorcoach operators to improve your operations?
9. What is the biggest challenge your organization faces when it comes to working with motorcoach operators?
10. What is the best advice you could provide motorcoach operators to help them secure your business?
To view the responses, see the full survey results—shown first with a percentage of the total tour operator responses to each question. A common theme holds true in all responses: the need for strong teamwork between the motorcoach company and tour operator, and strong teamwork between the tour guide and motorcoach driver. Many responses also point out the need for student-friendly drivers who are courteous and professional, have a positive attitude, build rapport with teacher leaders and the tour group, and are knowledgeable about the destination.
A common thread throughout the survey:
"The motorcoach operators we work with are professional and easy to deal with. I have no problems with any or I do not use them again."
Written by Michael Bowers, Founder & Safety Consultant, Center for Student Travel Safety.