We all do what we can to ensure no mistakes, but that does not always happen
No matter how much planning you do, how many times you double check details, how many times you call your transportation provider to re-confirm; mistakes can still happen. Your best plan of action is to think about as many of these “worst case scenarios” as you can and plan your reactions to each. The main thing to remember is the popular phrase from one of my favorite books, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: “Don’t Panic.” This phrase is the number one thought that will help you get through any “what if” situation. Where you go from there will probably vary on the situation you are facing. After all, you may not have the same procedures for a driver getting lost as a bus breaking down.
What if the vehicle does not show?
Don’t panic. Believe it or not, this does occasionally happen. Some of the common mistakes that could have caused this mishap in the first place are mixing up AM and PM, having the wrong pick-up address, the wrong date or time, a driver error (late or missed work), and many more. Now you are on the curb with a bunch of guests expecting to get on a vehicle. The first thing to find out is what happened and where the vehicle is. Hopefully, your transportation company has given you the driver’s cell number; call them and ask where they are. Maybe they are running late or are a little lost. Neither is good but at least you know they are on their way and can hopefully get a estimated time of arrival to you. If you cannot reach the driver, you need to call the company. Make sure you have gotten a 24-hour emergency number where you can reach a live person with the company and not just an answering service. If you cannot reach anyone, you have to assume the worst: the vehicle is not coming. Then you have to think about how many people you are transporting and where are they going. If it’s just a few you may be able to get some taxis and get everyone moving. If it is more, you may have to start calling transportation companies and see if you can get another bus. If you are at a hotel, maybe the concierge or bell staff have a transportation company they can call for you. You need to use all of your resources. Also, consider if the transportation was only one way or if you will need to get them back again. If you need a return and cannot find that right away, just worry about getting everyone there and give your self some time to plan the return.
What if the vehicle breaks down?
Well, the vehicle showed up to pick up your guests but now you are on the way and it starts to sputter and stops running. What now? Hopefully your driver was able to get to a safe location off the roadway to figure out what is wrong. If not, you need to remind them to do so or see if they have reflective triangles (or flares at night) to safely direct traffic around your stopped vehicle. If you are at a safe location and you think it will be a long wait, you may want to find somewhere nearby that the group can go to wait. Try to find a location where they can sit, have access to food and drinks and a place to go to the washroom. Once the guests are attended to, work with the driver to evaluate the situation. Does the driver know if this is a quick fix or if it will be a major problem? Has the driver called into his company and talked with them about what to do next? Are they sending a mechanic to access and fix the problem or are they sending a replacement vehicle? In a breakdown situation, it is very similar to when your vehicle does not show up; you want to get a replacement vehicle ASAP to transport your guests.
What if your driver gets lost?
Wrong turns can and will happen. If you are chartering a vehicle to take your group somewhere that is not common, it is always good to send a map and maybe even directions to the transportation company. Yes, they should be able to find it on their own, but it is better to be safe than sorry. When you re-confirm your vehicle, make sure that they have given any maps or directions to the driver. Take a copy with you on the day of travel. When you first meet your driver, ask them if they have the materials. If you did not send any maps, just ask your driver if they are familiar with where you are going and what way are they planning on getting there. This will help prevent any mistakes. If the driver does miss a turn or gets lost and you notice, just ask them if they knew they missed the turn and offer to help redirect them correctly. Many phones have mapping programs, if you do map something out for the driver or the company ahead of time; make sure all routes you choose are the right size for motor coaches or larger vehicles. If you are not sure, call the local police department’s non-emergency number and ask if a larger vehicle can go the route you want. They will know the low clearances and other challenges of taking a commercial vehicle through their town.