By Paul Pannone
Discouraging news continues in the transportation business, specifically, limousines. eWedNewz reported the limousine business is evaporating but there was hope peak season demand could boost revenue along with the demand.
After over a year of efforts, the President of the National Limousine Association, Diane Forgy issued the following statement to eWedNewz saying:
“In general, the bulk of the limousine industry is made up primarily of 1-5 car operators, most of who rely on night and weekend business, especially wedding business. Most of these operators have stretch limousines in their fleet.
In general the use of traditional stretch limousines has declined in recent years, most definitely in the business community but even in general amongst the public. And the average hourly rental has probably declined as well. I am sure this has affected a number of small operators. Pricing has plummeted as operators large and small try to keep their limousines busy and out on the streets. Dropping prices is not a marketing strategy though and yes, that has hurt our industry. There are always exceptions and unique market situations, but in general as budgets have tightened, the use of limousines has declined.
In most cases transportation is a relatively easy expense to either eliminate or pare down in a wedding budget. However one trend that has become more consistent especially on larger weddings is the use of the “people mover” vehicles such as mini buses & trolleys to shuttle the entire wedding party along with the bride and groom. A step up from that might be a “limousine coach” that may hold 12-20+ passengers. There are of course the “mega” limousine often times converted on an SUV chassis that may also be used for 12-20 passengers. So when some type of transportation is needed for logistics or the wedding party wants to be together, have champagne and enjoys time together as a group, some sort of “people mover” is a great and practical option.
Even the use of a luxury sedan for the bride and groom in lieu of a limousine is more commonplace if they want some time alone both after the ceremony and possibly after the reception to their hotel.
The days of all day limousine rentals, sometimes multiple limousines for weddings are all but gone. Many limousine operators have diversified their fleets in the last several years to offer more choices for all of their clients, and this has definitely contributed to the change in vehicle options used at weddings.
Limousines are still a popular choice for 2 or 3 couples going out for a special occasion, concert, etc. They don’t want to drink and drive and they want to be together in a comfortable vehicle. The noticeable trend in most wedding markets is the use of shuttle buses and if the budget allows, luxury coaches and trolleys. On a per person basis, they are very affordable and fun.”
Nowhere in Forgy’s statement is the rising cost of gasoline cited as one of the main reasons for profit margin decline. In New Jersey sources cite rising gas prices and taxes as contributing factors for the decline. According to a New Jersey business story, a gallon of regular in New Jersey cost an average of $2.75 per gallon in May 2010. Yesterday, prices for a gallon averaged $3.79. An Exxon station in Summit was selling regular for $4.89 per gallon, the highest in the state.
Prices have been steadily rising in New Jersey since the beginning of the year. The state of New Jersey ranks 25th for average gas prices, according to GasBuddy.com. GasBuddy cites South Carolina as the cheapest in the country at 3.57 a gallon and Hawaii the most expensive at 4.46 a gallon and rising.
eWedNewz continues our investigation into the declining use of limousines in the United States.
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