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Chartering Tips
Consumer Protection Tips for Chartering a Motorcoach

A short video produced by NC Motorcoach Association

Making the right choice for your group is essential! It is especially easy when you use this convenient guide to help you through the selection process. The guide is split into three sections. "Company Background" - essential information on the company that can be used as your initial screening guide. "Meeting Your Needs..." - focuses on the specific needs of your group. "Safety Issues..." - probes areas usually left untouched... until a problem occurs. By using the guide, you will have taken steps you assure your group of a safe, comfortable, and satisfying travel experience.

Company Background...

Tip #1) Ask how long the company has been in business. Find out when the company was established, and how long it has been offering charter coach service. A long track record is generally desirable.

Tip #2) Request the company's DOT number. A DOT (Department of Transportation) number is assigned by the US Government and is required to operate legally. The DOT number can be used to check the carrier's safety rating (See Tip #3).

Tip #3) Ask about their DOT Safety Rating. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) issues safety ratings based on the company's accident record and adherence to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The highest possible rating is Satisfactory. Other ratings include Conditional, Not Rated, or Unsatisfactory. You can verify safety ratings by calling the DOT Safety Hotline at (704) 280-4001. Never charter from a company with an unsatisfactory rating.

Tip #4) Request a Certificate of Insurance. Your carrier should supply a Certificate of Insurance. This certificate shows the carrier's levels of insurance and effective policy dates. Minimum levels of insurance call for $5 million combined, single-limit liability coverage.

Tip #5) Ask for references. Request and contact references from similar type groups traveling on similar type programs. Never charter from a company unwilling to provide references.

Tip #6) Inquire about the size of their fleet. Overall charter fleet size is important. It provides a gauge to the operator's ability to supply alternate vehicles in the event of a mechanical problem, for multi-bus movements, on weekends or during peak seasons. It also provides some insight into the carrier's success.

Tip #7) Ask if the Company is available for inspection. Always inspect a carrier personally whenever possible. Inspect the motorcoach equipment, general offices and garage facilities. You can tell a lot about a company just by looking.

Tip #8) Inquire about the Maintenance Program for the motorcoaches. A properly maintained coach will greatly reduce the possibility of an on-the-road breakdown. All companies should have a Preventive Maintenance Program for their coaches. A coach that is not properly maintained, including preventive maintenance program, will greatly diminish the reliability of the vehicle. This is true regardless of the age of the coach, whether it is 1 year old or 15 years old. A company with more than a couple of coaches should have full-time mechanic and garage facilities. Without these there is no preventive maintenance and on on-the-road breakdown is inevitable.

Tip #9) Determine if the carrier is a full service company. Do they have their own maintenance facilities? Do they provide a brochure for package tours, plus name tags, luggage tags, soft drinks, a bingo set and prizes for use while on the trip? Ask if they help arrange tours and special services you require?

Meeting Your Needs...

Tip #10) Clearly spell out your schedule and what is involved in detail. Be prepared to provide the company a detailed itinerary for your trip. This information allows the company to quote on your trip accurately. For your safety, drivers hours limited by Federal regulations. In addition, specify if your driver must stay in the same hotel as the group.

Tip #11) Ask if video coaches are available. Video equipped coaches can be a genuine asset. You can view educational videos or movies to help pass the hours. Sports teams can even view game tapes. A great way to see your opponent, or review your own performance. (All Holiday Tours' motorcoaches are video equipped.)

Tip #12) Be a careful shopper. Consider all factors. If your organization requires multiple quotations, make sure careful consideration of the overall company are balanced against cost. A decision based solely on price may not be the best value.

Tip #13) Ask who pays for the driver's room. Is the driver's room included in the charter cost? If not, ask if you are responsible for the driver's room.

Tip #14) Determine company policy for extra mileage costs above the contracted amount. Find out the carriers policy concerning "overage miles" before you select a carrier -- not when you get an inflated bill after you return!

Tip #15) Ask if the coaches are equipped with a Cellular Phone. In the event of an on-the-road emergency, the driver should have a way to contact the appropriate people to help with the situation. (All Holiday Tours' Coaches are equipped with the cellular phones and our drivers have 24-hour access to management personnel).

Tip #16) Ask if the coaches have coach-to-coach communication. This is especially useful on multi-coach trips, where coach-to-coach communication is necessary for the group leaders to communicate with each other on rest and meal stops, tour times and other important decisions. (All Holiday Tours' Coaches are equipped with commercial 2-way radios).

Safety Issues...

Tip #17) Ask if the company adheres to Department of Transportation driver regulations. The DOT limits the number of hours a driver can work. A driver is limited to 10 hours of actual driving time. If your itinerary exceeds this limit, ask the company how they plan to handle your groups needs.

Tip #18) Inquire about the company's procedures for on-the-road emergencies. The company should have access to a nationwide list of companies/garages which will assure you of prompt servicing of equipment in all regions of the USA.

Tip #19) Ask if the Company has a formal Drug and Alcohol Program. Specify that your carrier supply a copy of their written drug and alcohol policy statement. Never charter from a carrier that does not strongly enforce a drug and alcohol-free workplace.

Tip #20) Request a list of qualified CDL drivers. Ask the carrier to submit a list of current qualified drivers. These drivers must have a CDL (commercial drivers license), a DOT driver's file, a current DOT physical examination and approved Medical Examiner's Card, as well as other driver qualification documentation.

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