Are bigger vehicles really better? According to Limocentric, the official LCT blog, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Sara McLean, publisher of LCT summed it up with this statement:
When you are chauffeur driven, you want BIG.
Martin Romjue, editor of Limocentric and LCT, followed with this:
We shouldn’t even have to say this, but with compact cars creeping into the industry, it can’t be said enough. BIG vehicles ‘R Us.
Considering LCT’s nearly pathological distain for healthy skepticism of the Prius, it’s easy to dismiss these statements, but the question remains, is bigger really better?
To find the answer, I decided to consult the magical Google Trends.
For those of you unaware of this amazing tool, it’s a free service provided by Google that shows the latest search trends. Most people use it to check the hot trends, but it’s also a great historical search tool.
Let’s Establish a Baseline
As everyone knows, the limo industry is in the tank. To see this in all its depressing glory, I pulled up a trend search for “limousine.”
As the economy has collapsed, the trend has moved downward. Fluctuations in the trend curve show increased demand during prom and wedding season, but the trend is steady and predictable.
Another search for “stretch limo” shows the same thing:
Is there hope?
The key is to go big …. really big.
This is the search for “limo bus”:
And the final search for “party bus”:
As you can see, the buses are bucking the trend. In tough economic times, people are saving money by splitting the cost amongst large groups. It’s clearly a case of bigger is better. LCT called it right.
Is it time to buy a bus?
If you run a successful retail limo business with brand dominance in your market, go for it. If you’re just starring out and think this is the key to success, don’t do it. A party bus is the icing on the cake of a successful limo business. It’s a huge investment with considerable risk. It’s also a sea of DOT regulation that a new operator shouldn’t navigate.
If you’re new, start with a few used stretches, build your marketing, and when a market presence is established, buy a bus. Party buses may be trending upward, but it’s still a difficult economic environment. The best move may be to simply preserve cash and dig in for the long haul.