Reinvigorating coach travel – a luxury offering
Exploring the world of coach travel and the luxury offering. We speak with VP Marketing and PR, Florencia Cirigliano of Red Coach about how to identify a new opportunity in the travel sector and the technology adapting the experience.
Argentina's coach sector inspired Florencia to apply the model to the USA, going one step further she established a high-end, affordable express motorcoach service in 2010. She talks us through how the transport sector is diversifying and the benefits of entering the market with a defined and unique proposition. Florencia explains the importance of knowing your audience and making the entire experience seamless. We cover:
-Rising costs and inflation, -The makeup of the US coach market, -Challenges with an outdated sector tech stack, -Integrating technology and making it more friendly for the customers, -Evolving the booking engine ...and why they look to the airline industry for inspiration.
Founded in 2010, RedCoach is a high-end, affordable express motorcoach that has been servicing Florida for more than a decade. Today, RedCoach is one of the most trusted luxury transportation offerings for business and leisure travellers alike, with daily routes throughout Florida and Texas. Equipped with the latest technology, RedCoach provides travellers with a truly unique motorcoach experience with its fleet of luxury vehicles that offer the utmost safety for its passengers. Fitted with 26, 38 and 56 seats, RedCoach offers spacious seating that reclines up to 140 degrees. Since its inception, RedCoach has transported more than a million passengers, and it continues to add new routes to fulfil its mission of providing an affordable, luxurious and safe travel experience for its customers. RedCoach is committed to offering travellers a level of quality and service that is the new standard in the industry.
Ryan Haynes: Hello, and welcome back to Travel Market Life. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes. And in today's show, we're looking at coach travel and the luxury offering how to identify a new opportunity in the travel sector and the technology adapting the experience I'm joined by fie P marketing and PR Florencia Cirigliano of Red Coach. A high end affordable express motorcoach. Now she took some inspiration from one country and applied it to another. Ryan Haynes: Florencio thank you ever so much for joining us today. I've been, it's been an incredible last couple of years, but you have learnt from one country, brought it to another. How is the coach sector going for you there in Florida? Florencia Cirigliano: Thank you very much for having me today on the show. It's real, real pleasure to get to you, you know, to share with you my experience and what's going on in the last couple of years after and the aftermath of COVID and what's going to be happening in industry in the states. A RedCoach is located in Florida and Texas. So we are in two markets. Are there policy has been very open to, to business and there weren't that restrictive as other states laws such as California or New York. So it's been a little bit easier. I would say that other places and especially because Florida is very popular in tourism and we have a thousand people moving to, to the state every single day. Florencia Cirigliano: So it's been, there's been a lot of tourism also coming in here and that will help that help us to pick it up. But at the beginning we lost like 80% of our passengers. So it wasn't like everything that nice, but we are getting there. And we think that by the end of the summer, we'll be back to the previous number of pre COVID numbers, which is exciting for free and everything in general. And in terms of, well, I'm originally from Argentina, I've been born and raised there and we, when we came here and we saw an opportunity because luxury travel, it wasn't an option. Florencia Cirigliano: Like the mindset about coach travel has to do with, you know, field theme and safe. The mindset of Americans is completely different that our mentality or the riparian, I mean, actually Argentina has been, all the transportation system was, was built by English, England, and UK. So we do have a lot of influence and a ropy and influence in general. And that's how we, we manage our transportation. But here it's not that way, especially in CDs or as states as Florida or Texas, or most of the states here that very spread out the suburban areas. Florencia Cirigliano: So it's not like maybe in the case of New York, yes, they do have more authority or Boston or Washington, but here you have to create a market. And when we were talking about coach travel, people were looking at how you can mix it up together, luxury and coach that doesn't go to get her at all. So it was a really, really hard job to get them to open, you know, be a little bit more open-minded and say, well, business, not your regular coach. This is not where you're used to. And when we were saying, okay, our coaches only have 27 seats. So you can recline like a first class in an airline. Florencia Cirigliano: It's almost like a total bed. And they were like, I don't understand what you're talking about. Or, oh, so this is the smaller coach. No, it's the same coach, which is remove all the seed. We tailor made it. We brought the seat from Argentina because we couldn't find anything that we love and make it that comfortable here. And then the way we grew actually was word of mouth because people will recommend the, someone, the service. And I remember back in the day I would be on a bus, you know, traveling back and forth from Miami to Orlando. And I would have, I would hear, I would enjoy. I enjoy really a lot when, when I heard people on the phone trying to convince someone and explain you're on a bus, like you can tell that someone else will say, what the hell are you doing on a bus? Florencia Cirigliano: I mean, you always fly. You always drive. And they were trying to explain, you know, what was it about? And that was really good because they got it very passionate. And that's kind of like how we grew. Ryan Haynes: Unless it's say that. Yeah. I mean, I've, I've been on coaches in south America and they are fantastic and it is the way to travel. And I prefer to travel when I lived in Sao Paolo. I much prefer to travel by coach most of the time than flight, partly because I didn't want to deal with the hassle of security and the check-in checkout part of it. And that actually, I think it was only a couple of hours extra that a coach would take, but you could often get that at the most ideal time. And as you say, people just don't believe the fact that you have these different types of births and a coach. You can actually get a business class first class seat that you would do in an airline on a coach. And it is such a smooth way to travel. Florencia Cirigliano: I mean, you, you mentioned the fact that you actually had to go to Argentina and you bring the seats over and that's still the case today that a lot of that is being built in your home country. Florencia Cirigliano: It is, it is. I mean, we couldn't find anything here that it's cushion enough, comfortable enough. We want to look at it like a sofa kind of experience. You know, it's like very smoothly. In fact, the other time I was with someone from Spain and he, he, he started working in the company. So he was like, I got on the bus and he, he couldn't stop saying, I didn't. I thought it was going to be nice, but I didn't think this it's going to be this comfortable. So someone from Europe that, you know, you kind of have some options, still think that it was like way more than what he could expect it. And the other thing that it's important that you were saying in, in, in my home country, in Argentina, we don't have that many flights. Florencia Cirigliano: We don't have a good railroad system. So as you said, people rely on bus travel. So you have to be, there's a lot of competition. You have to be very good with the company was doing that in Argentina when they brought the concept here. So it has 20 something years experience doing that service. We, you know, we kind of know how to do it. And the thing is, it's important for people here to understand that it's something express, you know, because even it's the most comfortable bus, you don't want to spend hundreds of hours there and stopping every literally town, which is the concept that was here for many, many years. So it's important. Like if you go to Miami airport, you have to go to Orlando. Florencia Cirigliano: If you go, you have to go through TSA, all the hassles delays that typically airlines have because of weather or whatever reason you spend about kind of like the same amount of time where you would spend going on, on a plane, because it's a one hour trip, but it's, you know, it's like the whole thing is, could be three hours and a half or so if you're lucky. So yeah, I think that that was another thing in Fordham, you know, and you have to be comfortable, but you have to have a good schedule, but also direct routes. Ryan Haynes: And that's one of the things that I realized because Argentina was also another place that I traveled around by coach. And it's the multi destination trip that you want to do as well. You want to stop in these cities that may actually be four or five hours apart from one another. But if you know that there's a coach, that's running from north to south east to west, and you can just hop on one day, hop off the next and be able to go and, and visit different places. As you say, without having to carry so much luggage around all the time. And it goes to different airports, it makes everything much smoother. What are the other trends that you're starting to see in coach travel? Because I mean, that is particularly new. And, and why did you choose the luxury market? Florencia Cirigliano: Well, when, when we, when we came here, the, in our mind was, this is something that wasn't here. It was, we were actually graded in each market, new market. We were redefining the way American things about bus travel, actually, you know, it's like for them, luxury and bus, as I mentioned, it doesn't go together. So the luxury for us was here was the norm in Argentina. You know, we have to put another name. We have just give a luxury, but in Argentina is the way you travel. So it's just, it was just about to start developing this market. Florencia Cirigliano: And we never wanted to compete with another bus company because that's not the market that we're after our main competitor are the carts people that dropped. So we want to take as many people out of the roads and explain them that why you would be driving for four hours in a very, very boring route. It's not a cynic at all. You will be driving there instead of being like able to work, because we have the power hours, we have a lap tray, we have the Wi-Fi, you could be working, you can be sleeping, you could be watching Netflix. You know, it's like, instead of being stuck behind the wheel of a car, and right now, in terms of trends, I feel like there's a great opportunity for our market for coach travel. Florencia Cirigliano: And that's the same thing that happened back when we started in 2000, we launched something 10, the around me and by DNF, their year gas crisis has started going up like tremendously. It was like $2 50 and it ended up being like $3, eight. So what happened is people start being a little more open minded because they were more conscious about gas prices and raising the, the money that we're spending traveling. So they wouldn't, you know, I wouldn't get out on the comfort of my car kind of mentality that they have. You know, there's nothing you can do to convince me to do that. But then it was a different kind of mindset. Florencia Cirigliano: And in terms of also the things that helped back then was the Uber. Uber started getting more popular. So here in Florida or Texas as well, the it's, everything is spread out. It's not like you are in the city and a taxi. You know, it wasn't like that. It was a hassle to get a taxi. So people were like, okay, I have this affordable option that I can use to get to my last mile, which is, I think really important in this kind of services. And now it's happening again with gas prices raising like a 50% and then everything in the industry. It's, it's raising prices. The hotel cost jumps like 30%. Florencia Cirigliano: They're lying first rows, 24% vehicle. You know, the vehicle rental costs jumped 14% and our industry was the one that get the leads of the races. And also it's still the cheapest way of transportation. So when people try to save on the inflation is 8% now, which is something that it may control. Would it be anything was like, okay, that's nothing. So, but here it's, it's a lot is really impacting. And there was a article from the wall street journal, actually talking about how people are rethinking, what are they going to do this summer? Florencia Cirigliano: Because the inflation that's prices, it's everything changed in it. And obviously a lot of people want to go out and about because a lot of people has postponed their trips that they have 20, 20, 20, 21. But now they're like, I'm not going to spend. I remember the wall street article has a sense of like a, a round trip from new Orleans to somewhere that wasn't like a two hour trip, $900 for that money. I can go to Europe, you know, so bus travel, it's starting to be an option. And I do think that there's a lot of game-changers now, as I said, Ray house, like it's the company that's been here for a hundred years and it's how bus travel is known, but now there are new players. Florencia Cirigliano: And the funny thing is like, they're all foreigners, all foreigners. We had, well, first group back in the day where the ones that purchase Greyhound Navix, it's been sold to Flexbox. We have stagecoach with mega bus as from Argentina. So what the Germans with, with FlixBus. So it's like, we are spicing thing up from the motor coach industry in, in America, which is something very interesting to see, and that really tells you how not important than industry is here, right? As like, Ryan Haynes: Oh, absolutely. I mean, we are seeing so many innovations in so many different spaces. And as you say, like one which sustainability being a prime concern and costs, and the fact that people still want to travel and they want to have a bit of a luxury experience in some way, they want to treat themselves that's all of these types of travel or for the pipping, you know, holiday rentals were seen as the cheap option. Now they're seen as other option hostels, not so long ago were not seen as cool. And they're just as cool as, as, as any other form of alternative accommodation. And I mean, you've talked at length, you know, about the seats and it sounds like there's a lot of in-seat technology for your customers there. Ryan Haynes: And what other technology is really making your, your industry and, and particularly red coach work today. How, how are you using technology across the business to really harness the opportunities that are going to come from in the coming years? Florencia Cirigliano: This industry, since the very beginning was a really all fashion industry, the way it's always been managed. Every time we tried to get a new system and you upgrade, it's like how you don't have this all integrated. And we were always the one asking for the upgrades. And we always look at, for our, like for our mentality, we thought this is not enough because you have to have everything more integrated, more friendly for the customer. And so w we will always developing, we have a booking engine provider, and we're always given like improvements and operates because the industry is not asking for it. Florencia Cirigliano: So if you don't have anybody challenging the technology companies or the technology, they need the standard softwares for motorcoach industry. It's not so unimproved because no one is asking for those improvements. But so I, I, I think that what we do our strategy always was to look at the airlines because they are way ahead in the game, in terms of technology, you have to get the customers out there. So we were always looking up for them. And what is the technology they use? We recently changed our booking engine. We are going to launch like next week, it's from Estonia, the service, like it's something that they use in Europe because we didn't like any options here in America. Florencia Cirigliano: So we always have to outsource different places because it's not there. However, with Flexbox coming in the market and other game-changers. And in fact, there's a company now, their name is Wells. Well, as, as BWL. And they're from the middle east, they're from Egypt. And they were in NASDAQ. I mean, there are what called the unicorn of the middle east and what their mindset is. We're going to do an Uber for buses, for motor coaches. So they're in Brazil, they're there. They want to enter in different markets. And it's telling you how technology is being applied or the bus industry that it was neglected. Florencia Cirigliano: So I feel like there's going to be a lot of things. And a lot of changes coming up soon, this industry is going to change tremendously in the next three, three, I wouldn't say five, three years. And if you don't get ahead of the trend that you don't have the app, you don't have your GPS tracking. You don't have ways to communicate, chat online with your customers. I mean, people today want to be everything easy. I mean, it's not, yeah, you can have a really nice boss, but if I can book a ticket and it's, it's hell to do that, I'm going to try it with someone else. You know, it's like once you click situation today, so this companies are going, if you don't step up, you're going to be out.
Florencia Cirigliano: If you don't modernize. And you're the applied technology, that's it? Because today companies are more technology company, the actual companies, you know, Ryan Haynes: Oh, absolutely. I completely get that. The one to click is definitely helpful when it comes to transport. As they, when I was in Brazil, where it sits in 2015, you are booking your, your, your tickets on your phone. You took your phone, the guy would scan your phone, or just check your phone for the ticket. I came back to the UK in 2017, I had to print off my bus pass. You know, it's, it's, it's that so many of us are so used to, as you say that one, two click let's get on with it. Let's not mess around. It needs to be easy. It needs to be simple. And he'd be there. It's great that you've got that mind. You've got that, that, that real focus, particularly for RedCoach in order to change the industry or the sector for, for coaches and transport, and hopefully reinvigorate the way that these businesses are really seeing the type of service and a way to deliver it to their customers. Florencia Cirigliano: Yeah. And it's, if you look into the industry, and this is only 5% transportation, you know, the country 5% in a 320 million people, it's only 5%, which is, it tells you how Virgin the market is, how much opportunities there are there. It's very important. Since we started into 2010 and now 20, 22, it's a new generation. Now it's the millennials are, the gen Z are more willing to try new things. They are not, they don't have this mindset of bus travel that they parents would have and, or grandparents, you know? Florencia Cirigliano: So I feel like that's even a lot of opportunity for this grow to be more radical and rapid because they don't care. They just give me something, but it's okay. And if it has amazing seed, it's great, but it has to be affordable. They see a lot of the value, but they don't, they don't have any pre concepts and things like that. They just, you know, if it works, the schedule works, the seat FYS, the bus is clean. It's on time, it's affordable, that's it? You know, so that it's gonna make all these new trends to, to go more quickly because of new generations embracing it. Ryan Haynes: Absolutely. And I really look forward to seeing your journey over the next few years and red coaches flourish, because it's really sounds like, you know, you're, you're on the, on the right road. They're using as many puns as I possibly could do for NCO. Thank you ever so much for joining me today. Florencia Cirigliano: Thank you so much for having me. And it's a pleasure and I look forward to talk to you on another time Ryan Haynes: That was Florencia. Cirigliano the VP of marketing and PR at RedCoach check out our other episodes from some of our other tech and travel leaders, as well as hoteliers voice on Travel Market Life. Thank you for listening. Travel Market Life: Some more go to Travel Market Life. The music sensation by Zach Nelson is reproduced under license from story blocks. Several Market Life is a Haynes marcomms digital marketing agency production serving the travel and technology industries.