Motorcoach

Innovative Operator Profile: Keeping Customer Communication Open

Posted on April 24, 2013 by Metro staff

When Cline Tours owner and operator John McCommon bought the company in 1996, it consisted of one bus, one lease operator and focused on charter service. McCommon soon saw the need to create package tours when he noticed that school groups were all booking trips to the same cities.

Responding to this need, Cline Tours began procuring deals with hotels, offering event tickets for day trips and overnight packages, and creating a one-stop shop for customers. The company now offers charter service for company trips, ski trips, family reunions and church functions, in addition to school trips, and has added custom packages for preformed groups. They also specialize in travel to cities such as Memphis, Tenn., and Chicago.

Cline Tours handles all this steadily growing business with a uniquely new fleet. The oldest coach is an MCI J4500 2005 model, and they have already obtained one 2008 MCI J4508 model. “Owning one of the newer fleets in the business generates lots of activity and excitement. Everybody wants to ride on the new motorcoaches,” says McCommon.

To ensure quality customer service, employees from the charter sales department call about trips that are still pending by about two weeks to check in with customers. “Lots of our trips are booked several months in advance, so there’s a silent period. We call to see where they are with the trip, go over the details of location, payment, etc.,” says McCommon. The staff also sends thank you cards and notes to customers.

As an added measure to keep communication constant, Mc Common puts the drivers in touch with customers well in advance of the trip. “The driver and customer need to be in-sync to create a rapport before they meet,” says McCommon. Cline Tours has provided this extra touch for the last eight years. The driver calls two to four days prior to the trip, so the plans will be fresh in everybody’s mind. Everyone involved likes it, McCommon adds, because it eliminates potential miscommunications.

For the past eight years, Cline Tours has reached out to areas well beyond Mississippi, mailing brochures to schools and churches in Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama and Louisiana. A professional designer creates brochures that reach about 15,000 customers and potential customers. ”This has been a program that has grown pretty steadily. It reaches the greatest portion of our customers,” McCommon says. “Schools and churches don’t change (as much as other customer bases).”

Currently, the U.S. Department of Transportation is inspecting the entire Cline Tours fleet and using its motorcoaches to train new DOT inspectors, for which McCommon expresses his support. “We want people to know that we work to have the safest, best maintained fleet, and to minimize accidents,” he says.

For safety, Cline Tours uses satellite GPS, and will soon install on-board cameras and accident recorders on all of their buses. They are currently in the selection phase of choosing optimal equipment. The company also has a driver trainer assigned in each location to monitor the drivers’ performance on a daily basis. The state of Mississippi has a third-party tester, certified to monitor and train drivers. The company pays them to come to the work site yearly to certify the drivers with a written and road test.

To stress the importance of customer service, every two and a half months McCommon holds driver training sessions. The instructors, generally from the area, range from consultants to motivational speakers to football coaches and teachers. Speakers are chosen based on the topic to be covered (safety, hospitality, customer care, etc.), with training held in all three locations. “Instructors discuss with the employees what it means to work for and be part of Cline Tours,” says McCommon. 

At a Glance

Motorcoaches: 34

Fleet mix: MCI

Employees: 88

Drivers: 50

Service area: Primarily the Southeastern region (but will travel anywhere in the U.S.)

Services: Charter and some package tours for school trips

Annual mileage: 1.5 million

Year started: 1983

President: John McCommon, owner and operator, President of Trailways Memphis, Tenn., location

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

More News

Prevost sponsors online driver training courses offered by ABA

The ABA Driver Training program was developed by safety experts from industry-leading motorcoach companies and manufacturers.

ABA taps Omaha, Neb. for 2020's Marketplace

The dates of the 2020 Marketplace will be Jan. 10 to 14, 2020. This is the first time ABA has come to Omaha for its annual event.

Quarter 2 coach sales down slightly, according to ABA Foundation numbers

The decline in sales for the second quarter were offset by the continued strength of sales of the new 45-foot motorcoaches, which saw a 2% increase over the same period in 2016.

MCI completes 13-motorcoach Coach Atlantic order

The 2018 J4500 has been making news for a landmark interior design that’s added more comfort, space, and a significant number of aesthetic improvements, all features Coach Atlantic wanted to be first to offer its customers.

Mid-American adds 2 MCI J4500s

The 2018 J4500 features new airline-inspired ceiling lights and aisle puck lights that illuminate the roomier cabin which also features new parcel racks that blend with the front cap of the vehicle.

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