When we mention executive coaches it is altogether too easy to immediately think of motor homes and entertainer coaches. However, there are other types of converted coaches out there and some of them have seen some recent activity and new developments. Particularly noteworthy is the increasing success of Creative Coach Solutions in providing specialty coaches for corporate clients. Equally interesting is the new Vonlane scheduled executive coach service in Texas that runs head to head with commercial air travel.
There are numerous reasons why companies may want to include a specialized coach in their operation or marketing programs. This can range from hospitality to technical support, mobile offices, product showrooms and several other possibilities. Many of these projects never got started because the companies did not have enough expertise on their own staff to deal with the complexities of the design, building and operation of a specialized coach. Filling this obvious need in the industry is Kyle Mitchell and Creative Coach Solutions.
Creative Coach Solutions offers a turnkey approach to providing specialized motorcoaches to corporate clients. Included among their clients is any corporate organization that has decided to make a motorcoach part of their marketing plan. Creative Coach Solutions handles every detail including vehicle selection, lease, interior customization, exterior graphics and driver services with a single point of contact. They will work with corporations directly as well as through their marketing agencies.
It is interesting that Creative Coach Solutions only provides services relating to the motorcoach. They are not a marketing company and hence do not provide any marketing services. This allows Creative Coach Solutions to work with corporate marketing companies without any concerns of competition to the actual client.
In recent years Creative Coach Solutions has provided motorcoaches to several different companies for a wide range of reasons. One marketing company has brought in several different customers. This includes a coach for Jim Beam Auto Racing that served as a hospitality suite at NASCAR events and made bar appearances during the week. For Uniliever-Tigi hair care products, CCS provided a coach made into a mobile rock and roll hair salon. It was driven to conventions, festivals and concerts to promote their products. For Gilette, CCS provided a customized coach for their “Young Guns” tour. It was built with two exterior working sinks so fans at NASCAR events could be given a clean shave.
Creative Coach Solutions provided a coach for Gendex Dental Corporation, a German dental imaging equipment manufacturer. The coach was used to demonstrate the Gendex equipment at trade shows, conferences and local medical offices. This required a specialized coach with a second door to allow flow-through traffic. Reportedly, this is the only leasable Prevost motorcoach with a second entry door.
ESPN is a major customer of CCS with multiple coaches serving different purposes. For the US Open, ESPN uses a coach for an on-site green room where the broadcasters and production teams can take breaks and watch programming in a private setting. For college football Prime, the ESPN coach is specially wired so that the analysts and production crew can view numerous games on multiple TVs all at the same time.
Perhaps the most unique of the ESPN coaches is the DirecTV Studio bus. It functions as a totally self-contained and independent mobile studio. It can broadcast live content without any need for support vehicles. Mitchell from CCS relates that this coach was a particular challenge because it required merging the technology of a mobile broadcast unit while still providing all the features of a comfortable executive coach.
Home Depot is the official sponsor for ESPN’s College Gameday. CCS provides them with a motorcoach set up as a green room for ESPN analysts and Home Depot VIPs. This coach is specially set up so that the analysts can view numerous games at the same time.
The major advantage of Creative Coach Solutions is in providing a “one stop shop” for corporations seeking to put a specialty coach on the road. Mitchell from CCS was asked what do people not understand about the corporate coach business. He replied: “A large percentage of the corporate world is not aware that you can lease a motorcoach as opposed to buying one. Next, our clients typically don’t fully understand the depth of what is involved to put a customized motorcoach on the road for a marketing tour. From the build out to complying with all DOT regulations is a very large undertaking and that is where our expertise and services greatly benefit our clients.”
Another interesting industry development is the new Vonlane executive coach service in Texas that started on May 5 between Austin and Dallas. It operates highly customized executive coaches and caters to business professionals like attorneys, accountants, lobbyists and others who value their time.
What makes the new service particularly attractive is that it is competitive in overall travel time as well as useful travel time. With the commercial airlines, your time involves travel to the airport, arriving early enough to go through security, and then the flight itself and travel time from the airport. In comparison, the Vonlane coach runs from city to city and allows passengers to board up to five minutes prior to departure. With both electrical outlets and Wi-Fi, travel time on the coach can be fully productive.
The new service operates from Monday through Friday from a centrally located hotel in each city. In Austin, coaches depart and arrive at the Hyatt Regency Downtown on the Lake on Barton Springs Road. The Wyndham Hotel on Mockingbird Lane is the departure and arrival point in Dallas. Vonlane’s initial schedule calls for four round trips daily. The one-way fare is $100.
In addition to the electrical outlets and Wi-Fi, on board amenities include a galley and steward, complimentary refreshments including premium coffees and beverages, snacks including sandwiches, newspapers and noise cancelling headsets. There is also an entertainment system with XM Satellite Radio stations and two DirecTV channels on overhead flat panel monitors. Additional amenities include neck pillows, chargers, toothbrush kits, shoeshine sponges and other convenient items. Clearly, Vonlane passengers are pampered while they travel.
What may be particularly interesting is that Vonlane does not charge for baggage and has a particularly generous policy. Passengers can bring up to three bags of 50 pounds each and one carry-on without charge. All tickets are refundable prior to 24 hours before departure. If you cancel in the final 24 hours prior to departure, your ticket will be credited for future travel. Both parking and rental cars are available at both ends of the line.
At departure points, passengers simply need to arrive five minutes prior to departure, confirm their online reservation with a photo ID, hand their car keys to a valet parking attendant, climb aboard the coach and settle into their seat.
Perhaps the best part of the trip is the coach itself. The fleet consists of Prevost H3-45 coaches converted by Amadas. Normal seating capacity is only 16 passengers in the main cabin. The comfortable black leather seats are arranged in a two-and-one configuration. Each seat will recline 150 degrees with substantial leg room and ample workspace, allowing passengers to work on papers or a laptop while traveling.
A galley area and an attractive restroom are located in the center of each coach. At the rear is a six-seat conference room that can be reserved during the booking process. The conference room is equipped with three flat panel monitors for laptop projection and fold-up tables between the seats.
In addition to the black leather seats, most of the coach interior features woodgrain surfaces on the floor, walls and enclosed parcel racks. Passengers each have overhead courtesy panels including reading lights.
Vonlane founder and president, Alex Danza, said: “We created, in Vonlane, a more dignified way to travel that helps business people reclaim the productive hours that are typically lost when flying or driving between Texas cities.” Expansion plans for new routes include Houston and San Antonio. Tickets can be purchased by phone or online.