When the United Motorcoach Association purchased the online bus travel search engine Busrates.com, the intent was to provide a member benefit: a way for members to improve their lead generation and bring in new business. Along the way, Busrates.com brought a second benefit to operators and the traveling public, it provided an online venue to direct the traveling public to legitimate bus owners and operators by deliberately excluding brokers from its listings and giving consumers the tools to tell the difference between the two.
Motorcoach operators benefit from this approach.
“Many operators don’t have much of a web presence, even some of the larger companies,” says Busrates.com General Manager Steve Valley. “They often just don’t have the time to put together a website or blog and maintain that online profile. BusRates gives these operators a place where they can safely and securely direct customers to do business with them.”
Who can be listed on Busrates.com?
Valley describes how UMA transformed Busrates.com to serve its core membership or owner-operators.
“After acquiring the site from its founder, UMA vetted more than 10,000 U.S. and Canadian companies that were already on the site to see if they could meet newly established standards for Busrates.com,” he says. “Not all of them could, and those companies were taken off the site.”
To be on Busrates.com a company must be currently in business, meet the $5 million federally-mandated insurance minimum and be authorized by the U.S. Department of Transportation or its Canadian counterpart. Busrates.com collects company and fleet info, verifies contact information, includes social media URLs, and confirms associations with industry and consumer groups.
“We are still committed to providing only top-quality listings,” Valley says. “Today, BusRates makes it a core part of our mission to make customers aware that not all bus companies on the internet own buses. BusRates aims to provide users of the site with a consistent, detailed database of bus companies in the U.S. and Canada that do own buses, and we provide information that helps consumers verify ownership, insurance, and operating authority.”
“Being able to provide consumers with a list of bona fide bus companies is a hedge against group travel horror stories of buses not showing up after deposits were paid or not providing the type of vehicles promised,” says Ken Presley, UMA’s COO and VP for legislative and regulatory affairs. “By educating consumers and providing them a reliable search engine, Busrates.com helps our industry build a better public image.”
Busrates.com is also an effective tool for local transit agencies seeking private carriers for contract work, allowing regional transit agencies to seek out local companies that are already providing services and jobs in a community. Searching is as simple as typing in a zip code, city or state.
Search results immediately tell where a company is located, list the most popular amenities offered, and provide links to vehicle photographs, a full listing of services, DOT and insurance information and consumer reviews and ratings, among other features. In short, Busrates.com provides consumers an introduction to companies that have a proven track record for customer satisfaction and a documented safety record. Users get a lot of peace of mind knowing the facts about the company that will be transporting them for an important trip or driving their children to a far-away event.
Valley says the site has undergone recent improvements that should make it even more popular among consumers and easier to manage for bus companies listed on the site.
Valley says a big part of the BusRates philosophy is not getting between bus companies and their customers.
“Our goal is to make introductions,” Valley says. “The booking and charter departments at these operations are the experts at booking trips, so we try to introduce all interested parties and then get out of the way.”
To that end, BusRates puts forth no edicts on price, selling points or equipment to participating companies.
“We’re agnostic about those points,” Valley says. “We’ve vetted our member companies, and know that they will provide the best possible price and service combination for their passengers.”
Bus travel made easy
Company profiles on BusRates.com contain general rates, amenities lists, custom quotes, specifications, vehicle inventories, website addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, company descriptions, social media URLs, DOT and Insurance information, and customer reviews.
BusRates is a reliable online service for customers seeking charter bus rentals for airport transfers, local shuttling, bus tours, company outings, weddings, birthday parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, corporate events, athletic teams, family reunions, school events, sightseeing, extended trips, or any other group bus charter service or ground transportation.
“If someone needs ground transportation, we’re their best resource for finding the right bus,” Valley says.
Bus owners and operators who want to list their company on BusRates to supercharge sales, or current members with questions or requiring assistance regarding their posting, should call 866-375-0800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.