January 2014

2014 Innovative Operators: King's Tours

by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

King’s Tours follows a strict 45-day inspection schedule to make sure all of their equipment is operating at the highest standard and works to go above and beyond federal maintenance guidelines.

King’s Tours follows a strict 45-day inspection schedule to make sure all of their equipment is operating at the highest standard and works to go above and beyond federal maintenance guidelines.
Opening up in a competitive market 14 years ago, the San Francisco-based, family-owned King’s Tours started with just one motorcoach and has gradually grown each year, to eventually become the 20-vehicle operation it is today.

“We just decided to jump right into the game and get in the industry and things have really worked out for us,” says Dan Cheung, manager at King’s Tours. “We have basically just kept adding buses each and every year.”

King’s newest addition was a Van Hool T2145 45-foot motorcoach featuring a Cummins engine that meets 2010 EPA emissions standards coupled with an Allison transmission. Standard safety features include three-point seat belts, anti-lock brakes, automatic traction control, electronic stability control and a lane departure warning system.

To provide customers with a top-flight experience, the operation added leather seating, state-of-the-art suspension, a full entertainment system with DVD players and monitors, and a full PA system with a microphone for its various tours, which include trips around San Francisco, Napa Valley’s wineries, and Muir Woods National Monument and the nearby redwood forests.

Cheung says what sets his operation apart from the competition is his staff’s knowledge and expertise as well as its impeccable safety record.
“Many people don’t realize there is coordination that goes into the trip to make everything run smoothly,” says Cheung. “With our team’s expertise, we can look at the location and the itinerary and let our customers know if it will work or what we can do to make their trip better. Some companies just won’t take the time to go that extra mile.”

The operation follows a strict 45-day inspection schedule to make sure all of their equipment is operating at the highest standard and works to go above and beyond federal maintenance guidelines.

As for staffing, Cheung says he is picky, since there is so much on the line with each trip, or as he explains it, “you cannot replace human life.”

“We have great drivers and a great overall team; our standards are extremely high,” says Cheung. “We just don’t settle on checking off boxes, our drivers have to fit within our culture as well as having a safe history of driving over a number of years.”

In fact, King’s drivers recently passed the ultimate security check, when it provided transportation for President Barack Obama’s San Francisco visit.

“We didn’t provide transportation for the President, but for the staff, reporters and other folks traveling with him,” says Cheung. “Each of our drivers had to pass background checks ahead of time, as well as inspections when they arrived at the airport, where they got to pull the vehicles right up on the tarmac next to Air Force One. It was a great experience.”

Cheung explains that while tour and convention work make up a nice portion of King’s business, providing corporate work shuttles for many of Northern California’s tech companies — a popular and competitive portion of business — will be key to its continuing growth. To land some of these contracts, he says it is imperative to accentuate all the many positives of King’s 10-year history.

“We’re not the cheapest or most expensive, but I rely on the service we provide and the expertise we have to convince folks to use our company versus going with the competition,” says Cheung. “It’s just about  highlighting all the intangibles that you can’t really put on paper.”


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