By David Hubbard
Bronwyn Wilson stepped into her new position this year as president and CEO of the International Motorcoach Group (IMG), Overland Park, KS, the private consortium of more than 60 motorcoach companies operating throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Wilson, a native Australian, cut her teeth in the escorted tour industry in 1982 and arrived in the U.S. in 1990 as president of worldwide tour and cruise operator Australian Pacific Touring to oversee its North American operations. She also served on the board of directors of the U.S. Tour Operators Association and was vice chair of the organization in 2010.
Contracting with motorcoach operators in the U.S. and Canada to provide transportation for the escorted touring program, Wilson was no stranger to motorcoaches and IMG stakeholders when the invitation came to join the team following Steve Klika’s departure.
IMG saw the vacancy he left as a formidable challenge, crediting the outgoing leader with growing the group into an internationally respected organization. In his 11-year tenure, Klika implemented an online driver training curriculum, developed volume purchasing relationships and aligned IMG and its European counterpart, Global Passenger Network (GPN).
“Having several IMG members as customers, I was very familiar this group’s sense of excellence and cooperation,” says Wilson. “They apparently thought I could bring a new perspective and would be a good fit.”
Four months into her new role, Wilson has been busy traveling to meet and visit with IMG shareholders at their facilities. She called in from the road to discuss her plans for the organization and share her perspectives on the North American motorcoach industry.
BUSRide: What is the first item on your to-do list?
Bronwyn Wilson: I am looking to expand the sales and intensify the marketing of IMG. This is a remarkable network of independent companies throughout the U.S and Canada. They are well known, but not well known enough, so marketing is key and always a work in progress.
BR: What is the focus of this initiative?
BW: Greater awareness of IMG of course, so prospective motorcoach customers will know to drill down to an IMG company in their local markets or the IMG shareholder in the region they may soon be visiting for whatever reason — family activities, vacation, business or national programs.
BR: Does your knowledge of the tour industry come into play?
BW: I may be able to help the group with a perspective on the tour component. However, while escorted coach tours are an important aspect, it is not the only area we are involved in. We also are reaching out to schools, colleges, universities, businesses, corporations and non-profit organizations. Anyone with a need for a coach needs to know how to reach out to IMG members.
BR: Can you share your view of the North American coach industry since your arrival?
BW: It has been interesting to watch the evolution of motorcoaches over the last 20 years. From a customer perspective they have really improved. A motorcoach today is a truly luxurious touring vehicle in every respect of comfort, as well as being safer and more environmentally sound.
BR: Can you give a specific example in expanding the marketing effort?
BW: One example would be as the sales staff of a company sells the tremendous benefits of motorcoach travel in terms of luxury ground transportation that is environmentally sensitive, the education process for our customers must include an explanation of how reality has set in and the cost to charter a motorcoach might be higher than it once was.
BR: Do you think the general public is aware of this evolution?
BW: That’s our challenge. I think regular customers who use motorcoaches consistently appreciate all today’s coaches have to offer. We have done a lot of good work, but it is still vital to communicate our message to the public as a whole, for not only IMG but also the entire motorcoach industry. I think this is very important.