September 21, 2018

Eight Tips for Group Leaders on Motorcoach Trips

Have you chartered a motorcoach for your group’s trip? Great — smart move! Here are eight tips for you, the group leader, from my perspective as your driver for your charter trip.

1. Introduce yourself, as the person in charge, to your driver.

You’d be amazed how often we have to guess or ask around the group to find out who is in charge of things like letting us know when you’re ready to depart, confirm destinations and time schedules, letting us know that all passengers have boarded, etc. Sometimes our paperwork tells us who’s in charge and we can find you, but just as often the person listed on our paperwork is the person who booked the coach for the trip, not the person who’s actually in charge on trip day.

2. Ride Bus #1, and sit in the front of the coach.

If you’ve booked multiple coaches for your group, the overall group leader should ride on the first coach in the group. Sometimes last minute “executive decisions” need to be made en route, and it’s difficult to do that when there’s no one in charge on the first coach. Sit up front where the driver can talk to you if/when necessary, or at least be prepared to move to the front quickly when needed.

3. Make sure your group understands that you’re in charge.

Introduce yourself to your group (or other bus captains) as the “go to” person if there’s a problem or a decision that needs to be made on behalf of the group. Don’t put the driver(s) in the position of having to negotiate between passengers, group leaders, and previously arranged trip plans. The group leader is the contact person between the driver and the group.

4. Allow time to review trip plans with the driver before you depart the pickup point.

Drivers are usually pretty good at double checking trip plans with the group leader, including things like selection of the route, plans for rest stops along the way, etc. But sometimes trips are less well organized and the group leader is so rushed, we’re on the road before we’ve confirmed the details. If things have changed since the original itinerary was given to the driver, it can make it difficult for the driver to make adjustments en route. Also, give the driver the overall picture for the day if it’s not clear from the itinerary. We like to research things like directions and bus parking ahead of time when possible.

5. Remember, the driver likes to eat, too.

Too often groups will try and make up time by eating meals on the bus. That’s not a problem, as long as the group hasn’t already been traveling all day and the driver has had time for a meal. Expecting the driver to eat while driving, or to skip meals altogether, is definitely not a good idea. Make sure your driver has time off — 30 minutes, at least — to get a meal and eat before he has to continue driving at meal times.

6. Allow adequate time for rest stops along the way.

Yes, the coach has a bathroom. But it’s not really designed to handle everyone on the bus using it multiple times during the day — it’s there for emergency use for those who just can’t wait until the next rest stop. With a full bus, you need to allow a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes every 2-3 hours for a bathroom break. Even those who don’t need the bathroom break will enjoy being able to get off the coach and stretch their legs.

7. Exchange cell phone numbers with the driver.

This will usually be initiated by the driver, but don’t hesitate to ask if he/she forgets. You may not need to use the phone numbers, but just in case — things do change — you want to be able to communicate with your driver. He/she needs your number, just as you need theirs. But don’t give the driver’s cell phone number to the rest of the passengers, especially if it’s his personal cell phone number — give them yours, instead.

8. Don’t ask or expect the driver to subsidize the cost of your trip.

Motorcoach drivers rely on gratuities for a substantial part of their income — and that’s good for you and your group — a merit-based pay system! Don’t cut back on the gratuity for your driver because of a cutback in your group’s trip budget. If your driver has done a good job for you, he/she deserves to be paid.

Your motorcoach driver is a professional and can help make your trip a success. We want it to be a great experience for everyone, including you, the group leader! Just a little time, planning, and good communication are all it takes. Your comments or questions are welcome.

About Bob Bergey

Bob has been driving motorcoaches since 2002, in every state east of the Mississippi and a few west, as well as the four southeastern-most provinces of Canada. In addition to driving, he's an avid photographer (and former professional), enjoys writing and technology.

Comments

  1. Thanks Bob for this article. I wish I could send this to every school I have hauled. Not all are the same but more times than not I have had to wait till the end of the day to eat because they are either in a hurry or they were late leaving and they try to make up time at the food stops. Number 5 and 8 really hit home with me. Tips… almost non exsistant when hauling schools around here. And the times I have been told I am sorry I could not give you a tip, we ran into more expense than we had figured. Even the tour companies around here take the driver for granted most times. Just the other day we had a multi bus move to a location. Spent the whole day waiting on the customers and at the end of the trip we got 25 dollars each from the tour company. Yes that is 25 dollars I did not have to start with, but come on. I love my job and while we have issues with the company, I have worked at much worse places. But we are taken for granted way too much sometimes.