By David Hubbard
Since ignition and liftoff two and a half years ago, word from Motorcoach Council mission control is the first stage is compete with the grassroots effort Todd Holland has diligently spearheaded. With the message firmly positioned, the second stage has fired and the next sequence of events is in motion.
Holland says the effort in this startup phase was simply to find the means to be as effective as possible with the resources at hand.
Before anything toward this end could happen, the Council had to take its own first steps to define and develop the concept, sell it to motorcoach industry and attract the necessary financial backing.
“We started this initiative with little funds but a lot of motorcoaches,” he says. “The idea to begin by wrapping our message on our own coaches was the most viable solution.”
Value and potential
Taking a moment to reflect on his ride in launching the Motorcoach Council, Holland says the value and potential of this mission is only as strong as what comes next.
Not to worry. As he steps aside for Brian Annett, Annett Bus Lines, Sebring, FL, to take his seat as council chairman and Heather Horton to step up as executive director, he says it is important to know the current Get Motorcoachified bus wrap campaign was not the end goal, but rather the initial thrust to get as many operators as possible on board and participating.
“Our progress has been steady, but the Motorcoach Council is still in its infancy,” says Holland. “Our goal was to stay out there, talk to everyone and try to determine if our industry truly needed and wanted this initiative to create greater public awareness for what we do.”
Finelight Interactive developed the basic marketing concept with flexibility to allow variations on the theme, leaving room for the startup idea to grow legs as the industry has engaged in the mission, operator by operator, vendor by vendor.
Support of the core message
With 90 Founding Partners in support of the core message, the Council is poised to take its next steps to put it before the public. Coach operators are even chiming in with ideas of their own. One suggestion for a new slogan read, You text, we drive.
According to Holland, onlookers are beginning to get what it means to Get Motorcoachified. He says operators report calls and questions coming in from people reading the slogans as the wrapped coaches roll by.
“This early response is exciting,” says Holland. “It shows that people are behind us and finding ways for the program to evolve.”
In two and a half years questions about the Motorcoach Council have grown from what and why to how and what if; doing less explaining of what it is and more to help operators take the message to their customers. Congratulations go to founding partner Callen Hotard, Calco Travel, New Orleans, LA, for his effort to promote his business and motorcoaches in general through traditional media streams such as stand-alone billboards and cable television; and to Motor Coach Industries and ABC Companies for their development of donation programs based on parts purchases to support the cause.
“Everyone in the motorcoach industry agrees we need media exposure and public awareness more than ever,” says Holland. “We want people to know the benefits of modern coach service before they step onboard for the first time.”
Build stronger alliances
Pamela Wolf will be working closely with Horton in an official capacity to build stronger alliances with business entities that benefit from motorcoach tours and charters.
While the council purports the necessity of banding together to raise awareness by the traveling public through a singular message, and with the concept taking hold, still the Council will never realize its long-term vision without the creative participation in local markets.
Holland says the Motorcoach Council exists to supplement and fortify, not substitute or replace individual efforts to market and promote. With the available tools from the Council, such as soon to come public service announcements, motorcoach companies can certainly move the process along by engaging in proactive public relations of their own to educate the traveling public about the advantages and conveniences of motorcoach transportation. Maybe this is the third-stage rocket that takes the mission well into the future.
Once everyone is convincingly Motorcoachified, my hope is for the slogan to revert back to the original hearty cheer, Go Coach!