Armir Harris, founder and CEO of CharterUP, ranks among the few industry tech providers who knows what it’s actually like to help run a limousine company.
At the age of 9, he and his family immigrated from Albania to the U.S. At age 16, he began to help them operate a fleet of 15 vehicles in Charlotte, N.C. By the time he graduated college, they had grown to a mix of 30 sedans, stretch limousines, SUVs, and party buses.
The time came for them to purchase a motorcoach, and he discovered the benefits of working with larger vehicles. Coaches provided more predictable business, and the clientele was better at paying and showing the vehicles respect. Because he understands the business, he decided to create the CharterUP venture to ease the lives of bus operators.
What Is CharterUP?
CharterUP is a transportation technology company that serves the motorcoach industry by connecting operators to group travel customers across the U.S. “I’ve been in the industry for 16 years, so I’m very familiar with the common struggles of operators and customers looking for a transparent booking platform,” he says.
He says he’s seen a lack of trust in the industry among motorcoach operators, especially with bus brokers, and founded the CharterUP network to be a transparent marketplace and booking platform, as well as offer trustworthy technology solutions for owners and operators to bring in more reliable business.
The engineering team at CharterUP has developed a software called CoachRail built specifically for charter bus owners and operators. “We’ve heard frequent complaints about the usability, speed, and lack of mobility of their current fleet management platforms, and realized there was an opportunity there,” Harris says.
The CharterUP team discovered the market lacked an app that allowed motorcoach operators to manage their fleets remotely or on the go. With CoachRail available as a mobile app, operators can run their business right from their smartphone or computer wherever they are. This will allow operators to send quotes out to customers faster since they aren’t required to be in front of their desktop to send them, but also supervise and manage their fleet from any location.
“There’s little connectivity in the industry. There are different software products bus operators are using, but there’s not a primary one that connects them all. CoachRail is solving that problem,” he says. The target audience of the app is any company up to 15 buses, but larger companies can upgrade to more robust features for a fee.
CoachRail also has a feature called the Lead Board. The Lead Board provides operators with customer leads specific to their markets. Through CharterUP’s partnerships, they receive thousands of trip requests from customers and the Lead Board will allow operators the opportunity to send quotes and capture more business in seconds.
When it comes to support, operators can rest assured the CharterUP team has their backs. Companies that sign up for CoachRail are assigned a dedicated account representative. This person is their go-to specialist for any questions or concerns about the CoachRail app.
“We also pay strong attention to customer feedback and encourage customers to reach out with thoughts, ideas, and concerns,” Harris says. “Our team listens to requests for new features. We want to continue to work closely with industry leaders, especially bus owners and operators, so we can build products that make their lives easier.”
Harris hopes to solve what he considers the lack of trust in the industry and wants to redefine what it means to be an aggregator. “We are holding everyone accountable, both operators and customers. It’s something that’s been missing in this industry for a long time.”
He believes CoachRail and CharterUP will provide a fast, easy user experience for customers and significantly expand the market size for operators. “We take a tech-first approach, and any features developed in the future will be available at no additional cost.”
CharterUP has already seen tremendous growth. They have 200 motorcoach companies on CoachRail and are onboarding new companies daily. “There’s clearly a hunger in the industry for something new.”
The company’s goal is to connect transportation providers with group travel customers through cutting-edge technology and a transparent booking platform. They have invested a lot of time and effort into researching the market, so their software and marketplace is created with the charter bus industry’s desires in mind. “We want to make owner operators’ lives easier by bringing them new business and allowing them to manage their company on the go.”
They plan to continue listening to operators’ questions, comments, and concerns to help everyone grow. “We’re going to be at industry events throughout 2020. We’d love to talk to operators and learn about their companies.” n
This article originally ran in LCT Magazine.