Management & Operations

These Buses Put a Fresh Spin on Parties

Posted on February 1, 2006 by Steve Hirano, Editor

Russ Van Huizum, president of Top Dog Limo Bus in San Diego, used to own a limousine company with a fleet of 18 cars. But now, in semi-retirement, he has traded the 18 cars for two party buses and is enjoying himself more. Just like his passengers. “Party buses are definitely more fun than limousines,” Van Huizum says. “People can stand up and move around. And you can fit more people inside.” Van Huizum, like many transportation operators around the country, believes party buses are growing in popularity for events such as bachelor/bachelorette parties, proms, weddings, birthdays and wine tasting tours. Van Huizum says his transition to party buses was rocky. “It was definitely a hard sell at first,” he says. “But now that people are aware of their existence, it’s a lot easier to sell now. In fact, a lot of wedding consultants are recommending them now.” Ken Martin, president of Stardust Cruises Limousine Services in Santa Maria, Calif., concurs that interest in party buses is expanding. Like Van Huizum, Martin previously worked in a limousine operation but finds buses more enriching for the customers. “Groups can have a lot more fun when they can all be together,” he says. “It’s like sitting in your living room.” All sizes of ‘land yachts’
The buses being converted into parties on wheels range from mid-size buses to standard motorcoaches to supersize double-deck behemoths. The upgrades typically include expensive sound systems, wide-screen plasma TVs, leather perimeter seating, laser lights, built-in bars and, in some cases, stripper poles. Most common seems to be the 18- to 22-passenger mid-size buses. Martin of Stardust Cruises has one of each size. The cost was about $125,000 per bus. He charges $175 an hour for the 18-passenger bus and $195 an hour for the 22-passenger bus. He says his favorite manufacturer is Krystal Enterprises, which built the 18-passenger vehicle that he calls the “Supernova.” Key to Martin’s success since starting up his party bus enterprise four years ago has been requiring that a hostess ride along. Since 80% of his business stems from wine tours, the hostess serves several distinct functions — to serve drinks, run the electronics system, introduce the customers to the winery operators and to take group photos. The latter function has had positive effects on two fronts: It allows Martin to collect e-mail addresses of all the customers so photos can be e-mailed after the tour (and for follow-up marketing), and it is used to create a slide show of the tour that can be viewed on the bus’ TV on the ride home. Double-deck novelty act
One party bus operator has found success by deploying a reconditioned doubledecker manufactured by Neoplan in the 1980s for the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Robyn Vanosdall, co-owner of A Royal Limousine in Fort Collins, Colo., says her husband, Michael, and son Jason spent the better part of three years converting the 50-foot coach, nicknamed “King of the Road,” into a gargantuan party bus with flat-screen TVs, a karaoke system and a full bar that is staffed by a bartender. The bus had a capacity of 109, but now seats 75 people with a crew of five. The Vanosdalls spent $38,000 to buy the used bus and have put more than $300,000 into the conversion. Mike drives the coach, while Robyn acts as host. She says one of her key functions is to keep the crowd from getting too rowdy. “We want to give them a venue in which they can party hearty, but we don’t do Animal House.” Vanosdall says one of her successful crowd-control strategies to is to organize karaoke. “People have a lot more fun when they’re given direction,” she says. Plus, if they’re busy singing, they’re not drinking.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Luminator introduces 'Get Real' repair service program

While a basic repair service program was in place, Luminator has restructured and formalized the program to improve service and market competitiveness.

McDonald Transit appoints Rigler to president post

Prior to McDonald Transit, Rigler served as sr. VP-Global Solutions at Iron Mountain Inc., an S&P 500 company employing almost 17,000 professionals in over 1,000 facilities across 36 countries.

Connect Transit receives state funds, avoids shutdown

The agency announced Thursday that the payment of almost $1.9 million covers the time period of July 2016 through September 2016 and is part of a nearly $17.6 million transfer to the Downstate Public Transportation Fund.

APTA names new chief counsel

Linda C. Ford currently serves as associate administrator of the FTA's Office of Civil Rights.

Report: Public transit, cities should learn from San Francisco Muni hack

WIRED said American public transit systems, which make daily life possible for millions, are an easy target, since many are aging and underfunded, with barely enough money to keep the trains running, let alone invest in IT security upgrades.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close