People often owe their success in business to their ability to adapt. Richard Maben, president of Utah Trailways, has been adapting his business since its inception, with positive results.
Beginning as a casino tour operator in 1982, Maben would have to contract motorcoach operators to conduct his trips, until he finally purchased his first motorcoach in 1985. Coining his operation Casino Caravans, Maben’s business focused primarily on casino runs until the mid-1990s, when he says that end of the business slowed down, forcing him to look into providing charters. Then, in 2002, he decided to join the Trailways network.
“In this market where there’s a large religious preference, I thought that there would be a large part of the market that isn’t going to call me with the name Casino Caravans,” explains Maben. “After investigating the Trailways network, I joined and the name recognition here was just incredible. It then became a big part of our marketing.”
Maben tore off all the old Casino Caravans logos, replaced them with Trailways logos and soon saw his business increase, especially in the school and church group charter sector. Today, he says that his business is about 80 percent charters and 20 percent casino runs. He also says that it has been beneficial having Trailways in his corner. “No matter what part of the country we’re in, if we have a problem, there’s usually a Trailways company around that just bends over backwards to help us out.”
To help increase business, Maben recently adapted again by choosing to update his Website and begin moving away from typical advertising mediums, such as the Yellow Pages.
“We wanted to increase our presence on the Web, so we worked on improving our site and finding out how to improve our odds of coming up at the top of all the search engines,” explains Maben. “One of the things we added was a little video of me talking about the company. Nobody is calling me up for spokesmodel jobs, but we’ve gotten positive feedback from our customers.”
Maben adds that, ironically, it was YellowPages.com that came to his operation and helped update the site, taught him what he can do to improve his Web presence and actually helped shoot the video.
“We really thought the idea of putting more action into our Website was a good one,” Maben says.
From the beginning, Maben has prided himself on having the most updated motorcoaches in the area and today is no different. Utah Trailways recently purchased four new Setra motorcoaches from Daimler Buses North America that boast features that Maben says nobody else in the area has, including GPS systems, satellite TV and wireless Internet. He also adds that his operation carries the U.S. Department of Transportation’s highest safety rating, and that he often urges his customers to find out what that entails by visiting the Website.
“We never knock the competition, but urge our customers to look for themselves,” he says.
Maben says that perhaps the biggest key to his operation’s success is his ability to build and maintain relationships with his customers, adding that there are many people, particularly on his casino runs, that have been traveling with him since he first began.
“I always look at the example of some of the bus manufacturers and distributors that we work with because they do a great job of building relationships with us bus operators,” Maben says. “Nobody that I know of does it better than these entities, so what we can, we copy from them, and it has really paid off with many loyal customers.”
FLEET MIX: Setra, Van Hool, ABC
SERVICE AREA: U.S. and Canada
SERVICES OFFERED: charter, tour, athletic, casino
YEAR STARTED: 1982
AVERAGE ANNUAL MILEAGE: 1.25 million
PRESIDENT: Richard Maben