'Get Transportation Involved Before Signing Hotel Contracts,' says Guyton
Not many people talk about the role of transportation in trade shows and conferences – but it’s a crucial part of almost every event and whether attendees consider the show a success or failure. Melody Guyton is Vice President and Managing Director of Production Transport of Torrance, CA. Production Transport is a national transportation management company. EventsInAmerica.com (EIA) spoke with Guyton at the IAEE Expo! Expo! in Anaheim.
EIA: Tell us about your company and what you do?
Guyton: Production Transport manages the shuttle bus systems for conventions, trade shows and corporate events throughout the United States. Our primary role is to move people to and from convention centers and hotels, but then we also do airport meet & greets, VIP Town car service for executives on the Board, shuttles to golf tournaments, 5000 people in one night to a private event offsite, and more. We are people-movers, and we’ve been doing this for over 30 years. Our company was started by Richard Einhorn. He’s still the sole owner and highly involved in our company’s daily operations.
Do you operate locally, nationally or internationally?
We operate nationally. We do not own any equipment. We’re the brains, the planning, the ‘pull-it-together, make it happen’ people. We charter from local bus and limousine companies in any city we work in, pretty much all of them in the U.S. – certainly all of the major cities and most of the 2nd tier cities as well. We have local part-time staff who work for us. So, we function as the transportation manager for event planners. We create a comprehensive plan for transporting their clients during their events, in essence eliminating that job for the event planner.
What’s your unique differentiator?
Our experience. There aren’t many competitors who’ve been in the business for 30+ years. Also, our level of service is above and beyond. We really push high-level, hands-on quality service. We pride ourselves on treating our client’s customer, the attendee, as our guest. Nine times out of ten, we’re the first people the attendees see when they arrive and the last they see before they go home, so if their transportation goes smoothly, they’re having a great event. And we really push our staff to make sure that happens.
What 1 or 2 trends do you see developing in the trade show industry?
Certainly the mobile app. The whole digital phenomenon is taking over. We used to publish shuttle schedules on paper and distribute hundreds of them to hotels. That isn’t being done anymore. Everything is on your phone now.
What’s the outlook for 2017? Any new products?
We’re constantly looking for ideas. We use QR codes on our signage and we put together the mobile app information for our clients.
What 1 or 2 tips can you offer an event planner or event owner to ensure he has a successful event?
I have two. First, put the transportation company together with the housing company well in advance of signing hotel contracts. If the two can produce a complete package of, say, ten hotels that work together on routes, it becomes more cost effective for the event planner, and makes for better logistics all around. The other thing is comprehensive signage. We all want to go digital; we all want to go mobile. But if you have signage in the hotels, in the lobby, on the curb and it’s all cohesive, then that provides better communication all around. And if you make a change, tell people as soon as possible. You’d be amazed at how many people aren’t aware of changes that get made to the schedule. Get the information out. Simple communication is key.
You’ve been to Expo! Expo! before.
Yes, for 15 to 20 years.
What do you like most about attending Expo! Expo!?
The networking. It’s absolutely the number one networking event in our industry – with clients, potential clients and other vendors and exhibitors. We can meet with all the event production companies that we work with on every show we do, with the AV guys, the housing agencies, the convention bureaus – we work in all of the cities. So it’s awesome to bring that together in an environment where we have time to sit, talk, network and enjoy each other. It’s awesome networking.
What’s the best new idea or thing you’ve seen in the trade show industry?
I haven’t walked the show floor yet but certainly this beacon technology on our badge is going to be one of them. We’ve already got clients talking to us about using this technology at their upcoming shows. It would be great to put this technology into a badge and eliminate the need for bus drivers to take manual counts.
Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you think our audience should know about?
Transportation is a piece of every event and it is so important. The right transportation company can make the program seamless, but the wrong one can turn it into a nightmare. The key is finding the company you want to work with – a company that can travel with you from year to year and city to city – and making it an integral part of your event management team.
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