Motorcoach

Innovative Operator Profile: Customer Satisfaction is Paramount

Posted on May 8, 2013 by Alfonso Jimenez

In order to satisfy customer needs, a motorcoach operator must wear many hats. David Beagle, vice president of transportation at Holland America Tours, knows firsthand what it means to wear many hats with regard to customer needs. He began his career with the operation as a seasonal driver-guide in 1974 while still in college. The company, however, has changed tremendously since those days. “When I started we only had 38 motorcoaches,” he says. Today, the company has built up a fleet of nearly 400 coaches. “Because our operation is now so complex, we have thousands of touch points with our guests. As a result, there are thousands of opportunities to make a mistake and thousands of opportunities to make a positive impression.”

Founded in 1909, Holland America Tours is a subsidiary of Holland America Line, the venerable globe-spanning cruise ship line. “We’re the ground side of the cruise ship company,” explains Beagle. “We take the guests from the ship’s gangway to wherever they want to go. Once their foot hits the solid ground, then they’re our responsibility.” Holland America Tours provides a diversity of charter and tour options made possible by a range of vehicles, from motorcoaches to railcars to jeeps.

Based in Seattle, the company conducts tours throughout Alaska, the Yukon and the Pacific Northwest, including Vancouver. In the Yukon, it recently introduced river rafting in the Klondike River, hiking and other motorcoach programs in Tombstone Territorial Park and jeep tours in Dawson City and Denali.

To provide its customers with the most enjoyable tour experience, the company implemented an innovative GPS-triggered narration system in its “U-drive” jeep programs and railcar tours, as well as its shorter, high-volume motorcoach routes. The new technology operates by triggering audio narration when a GPS-enabled vehicle comes within proximity of a tour “hot spot.” But GPS-triggered narration is not designed to replace the human component of a guided tour. The system is being utilized primarily to train new driver-guides and give railcar managers more flexibility in fulfilling their duties. “If the car manager needs to address a problem downstairs in the dining room, they can turn on the next five narration segments so that they narrate while he or she is downstairs,” says Beagle. Automated safety announcements recorded on the system also give guests a full and accurate description of the coach’s safety features and procedures.

Genuine concern for customer satisfaction is also what leads Holland America Tours to engage in rigorous self-scrutiny every year. As a seasonal operation, the company is in the unique position of being able to improve its services in the offseason by conducting customer satisfaction inquiries. “We try to identify what our weaknesses are, whether they are knowledge-based or hospitality-based, and then find solutions that support the customer-oriented culture we want to instill in our seasonal staff,” Beagle says. Every year, the company launches new operation enhancement projects based on the previous season’s customer ratings to anticipate and exceed future customer expectations. “We have 64 improvement projects underway for the coming season.”

AT A GLANCE

Motorcoaches: 414

Fleet mix: MCI, Prevost

Employees: 1,100

Drivers: 435

Year started: 1909

Service area: Northwest, Vancouver, Alaska and the Yukon

Services offered: Charter, tour

Average annual mileage: 5.2 million

Annual ridership: 3 million

VP of transportation: David Beagle (pictured)

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