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On the Road to Ground-Transportation Savings

Whether you’re booking airport shuttles or buses for off-site events, it’s tough to put the brakes on rising costs.

The prices of airport shuttles and other ground-transportation services are revving up. According to a recent MPI Meetings Outlook survey, 85 percent of respondents expect to see price increases in ground transportation, and 38 percent expect those increases to be higher than 10 percent.

Short of cancelling off-site events, here are some ideas for cutting the ground-transportation tab.

Creative Ground-Transportation Cost Cuts
• Rather than group shuttles, ask attendees to use ride-share services like Uber to get themselves from the airport to the hotel or from the hotel to off-site venues. Arrange for a discount code with the ride-share company and send the code to attendees ahead of the event. Try getting a sponsor for this.

• If there’s a mass-transit stop near your hotel, provide attendees with clear information on using the destination’s mass-transit options.

• Reduce the need for shuttles by using off-site venues within walking distance, as long as you provide alternatives for attendees with mobility issues. This approach, however, “can blow up on you if the weather decides it is not your friend!” warned one respondent to a MeetingsNet survey on meeting cost-savings ideas. If you go this route, have umbrellas at hand (preferably branded or sponsored) in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Tried-and-True Ground-Transportation Cost Cuts
Get multiple quotes from vendors and be specific about exactly what you will need, especially in terms of accessibility.

• Negotiate for the host hotel to provide complimentary town-car service for your speakers and VIPs.

Get sponsors to underwrite the cost of shuttles in exchange for putting their branding on signage at the shuttle stops, the hotels along the route, the convention center or main meeting hotel, and on the shuttles themselves.

• Among the many services a convention and visitors bureau can provide is discounted rates with their transportation partners to various attractions in the destination. Talk with your host city’s CVB to see what they can arrange for your group, from price discounts to airport greeters who can point people toward the right conference shuttle.

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