Each group has certain requirements, and keeping this in mind helps to ensure everyone's satisfaction. Here's a list of questions to consider before contacting our sales staff:
- What type and size vehicle will you need?
- How many people will be traveling in your group?
- What level of luxury or additional equipment will you need or desire?
- What is your travel itinerary?
- Who will be the contact for your group's charter needs?
- Will special accommodations be needed to be made for the driver on overnight trips?
- Will more than one driver be needed because of the length of the trip?
- Which is more important: luxury or price?
20 Tips to Bear in Mind Before Signing a Contract
Not all charter companies are the same and therefore other factors need to be considered in addition to price. To help you get all the service and reliability you want and need, we offer these tips for better chartering. We hope that they will help you prepare a better quote request and keep your groups safe, comfortable, and satisfied.
1) Does your group have any special needs that must be met?
2) Clearly spell out your schedule and what is involved in detail. Be sure the company knows what hours the driver must be available to the group, and if the driver must stay at the same hotel (for overnight trips).
3) Find out when the company was established, and how long it has been offering charter motorcoach services. A good track record is always desirable.
4) Request that the company supply its ICC and DOT numbers. Such numbers are assigned by the U.S. Government and are required to operate legally.
5) What is the company's DOT Safety Rating? A satisfactory rating is standard. Never charter from a company with an unsatisfactory rating. Call the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Motor Carriers at 1-800-832-5660 to verify a carrier's safety rating.
6) Request a Certificate of Insurance. Your carrier should supply a Certificate of Insurance. This certificate shows the carrier's levels of insurance and effective policy dates. Accepted levels of insurance call for a minimum of $5 million for combined single-limit liability.
7) Request and contact references from similar type groups traveling on similar type programs. Never charter from a company unwilling to provide references.
8) Ask how many coaches are in their fleet. Overall charter fleet size is important. It provides a gauge to the operator's ability to supply alternate vehicles in the event of a mechanical problem, on multi-motorcoach movements, or on weekends and during peak seasons. It also provides some insight into the success of the company.
9) Is the company adhering to Department of Transportation driver regulations? The DOT limits drivers to 10 hours of continuous service. If your itinerary requires more than the limit, ask how the charter company is going to handle it.
10) Ask for the company's procedures in on-the-road emergencies. The operator should have access to a nationwide reciprocal maintenance agreement which will assure you of prompt servicing of equipment in all regions of the USA / Canada.
11) Is the company available for inspections? You should inspect the motorcoach equipment, general offices and garage facilities before signing any contracts or agreements. You can tell a lot about a company just by looking.
12) What is the average age of the equipment operated? Vehicles that are over 10 years old, unless properly maintained on a preventive maintenance basis, can have a greatly diminished reliability factor. Generally, the newer the motorcoach, the fewer the breakdowns.
13) Are video-equipped motorcoaches available? Video-equipped coaches can be a genuine asset. You can view educational videos or provide movies to help pass the hours. Sports teams can even view game videos; a great way to see your opponent, or review your own performance.
14) Is the carrier legally licensed to show first-run motion pictures? Only carriers that hold such a license may show these films. Request to see a copy of the license.
15) Are bids really necessary? Often, bidding is only required if the total cost will exceed a set dollar amount. Breaking down larger movements into smaller segments may eliminate the need to bid at all.
16) Does the company have a drug-screening program in place? Specify that your carrier supply a copy of their written drug policy and drug-testing program. Never charter from a carrier that does not strongly enforce a drug-free workplace.
17) Can the company supply a list of qualified drivers? Ask the carrier to submit a list of current qualified drivers, who have a CDL (Commercial Driver's License), have passed the DOT physical examination requirements, and carry approved driver qualification documentation.
18) Who pays for the driver's hotel room? Find out if the driver's room is included in the cost of the charter, or if you are responsible for it.
19) Who is responsible for extra mileage costs beyond the contracted amount? Find out the carrier's policy before the trip - not when you get the bill!
20) Is the carrier a full service company? Do they have their own maintenance facilities? Can they provide vehicles to meet special needs?