2022 April

Get busy with Busie An easy way to manage charter bookings

For years, brokers have gained tremendous ground capturing customers in the ticketing and charter segments with superior technology, selling them back to operators at a 20-30% premium or more.

Trailways now has the tools to connect these same customers to our Trailways network directly, taking back control over the entire charter transaction for you to keep and capture more customers.

In collaboration with Busie, a leading cloud-based charter software company, Trailways has started a live pilot of the first-of-its kind charter-lead and booking platform on Trailways.com with the seven operators who were involved in the two-year development phase of the system. This new system will replace the old charter lead dashboard sometime in mid to late summer. In the meantime, operators not on the new charter platform will continue to have leads forwarded to them by the Trailways team.

Trailways will launch a series of webinars over the next couple of months with the Busie team for operators to see the platform in action. You can become part of the next group of operators to go live. Fill out this wait list form and a member of the Busie team will contact you. Here’s what the new system will offer:

Transparency + Improved Information Capture

Our charter lead platform has been updated for greater information transparency. You’ll have real-time visibility with customers and their trip needs, providing more thorough and accurate details when it’s time to book.

Improving Conversions + Margins

You’ll convert more leads. With Trailways.com’s new streamlined experience, trip organizers will be able to move through the quote and booking process quickly and efficiently. The system saves your teams time and money on quotes you don’t end up booking. The software provides instant quote capabilities, allowing customers to make decisions in real time. This will decrease customer quote-shopping and improve the quality of leads that convert to bookings.

Revenue Generation

Our goal is to drive more revenue directly to you with broker-equivalent technology throughout the Trailways system. With this new platform, you control and own every step of the process with a customer, not the broker. You also have total control of your rates, profit margins, and inventory availability.

“The Busie Charter platform is easy to use, saves substantial time in the quoting process, and offers a modern, online experience to our customers,” says pilot member Sarah Ring of Dean Trailways.

Want to be a part of the first group of operators onboarded to this platform? Please fill out this quick form to get on the waitlist.

Want to learn more? Reach out to Trailways@getbusie.com.



Kobussen Trailways’ Dave Meyerhofer three-time champion of UMA Maintenance Competition

Trailways’ signature red logo grabs attention and conveys fun. But that’s not the only reason Trailways-branded coaches look so good going down the road.

Credit also goes to knowledgeable, seasoned mechanics and maintenance teams who can’t be beat for keeping Trailways’ fleets pristine and running to perfection.

Meet Dave Meyerhofer, a lead mechanic at Kobussen Trailways in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. He took first place at the 2022 Maintenance Interchange at UMA Expo in Long Beach, California, marking his third first-place win and seventh trophy in his eight years participating in the industry’s most challenging maintenance competition. Meyerhofer also holds several amateur racecar trophies and works on racecars as a hobby he enjoys with his son.

Dave Meyerhofer (center) wins 2022 UMA Maintenance Competition

Sponsored by ABC Companies, the 24th annual UMA competition includes nearly two dozen professionals, representing motor coach companies across North America, who compete by answering 50 questions on a written test and finding eight to 10 rigged defects on two motor coaches in the fastest time. In the 2022 challenge, Dave Meyerhofer, Kobussen Trailways, was the only one to catch an incorrect rear backup light and achieved the highest overall score, winning the championship and a cash prize of $2,500.

Meyerhofer attributes his mechanical aptitude to growing up on farm where he fixed and repaired machinery. He joined Kobussen Trailways as a mechanic in 1990 out of high school, working on school buses. Now, with a fleet of 1,000 buses of all types, Meyerhofer focuses on his company’s 25 motor coaches and leads a team of technicians at the company’s headquarters. He also trouble-shoots equipment issues at the company’s 22 locations throughout Wisconsin. “I got in with a very good company and plan to finish out my career here,” says Meyerhofer. “I like my work and I treat the coaches like they are my very own.”

Meyerhofer, who has taken “as many technical training courses from manufacturers as possible,” recommends mechanics focus on electronics. “Anybody can change nuts but today’s new buses have 15 computers. You have to keep up your education to excel,” he says.

Excellent roadside assistance is never far away when you’re a Trailways carrier. Meyerhofer knows first-hand the value of Trailways membership. “Breakdowns happen and just recently I contacted Thrasher Brothers Trailways in Alabama for assistance. Alan Thrasher himself went out to look after our coach,” said Meyerhofer. “No one (in Trailways) ever turns anyone away and we won’t either.”

When not at a Kobussen garage, you’ll find Meyerhofer working on his two street stock Chevys, a ’99 Monte Carlo and 2020 Camaro. His racing hobby started when he was 35, leading him to 10 stock car racing wins. Now retired from racing, Meyerhofer volunteers as crew chief for his son and nephew’s racing team that participates in nearly 40 stock car races in the Mid-Am Racing Series each year in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.

It’s no surprise to learn, after UMA Expo ended and Meyerhofer’s big win, he and his girlfriend hopped in a Ford Explorer rental for a drive-up Pacific Coast Highway to enjoy the open road and scenery all the way to Sacramento. “It was nice to be back at EXPO and represent Kobussen,” he said.

To learn more about the UMA Maintenance challenge click here.



West Point Trailways President Robert Brisman rejoins Trailways Board

Robert (Bob) Brisman, President of West Point Trailways, who served on Trailways’ Board more than a decade ago, has rejoined the Board with a major mission in mind — to serve and help further the brand with industry-leading technology that boosts revenue while appealing to new generations of riders.

“We get a lot of leads coming from Trailways,” he said. “In the age of apps and technology, customers expect immediate replies. They don’t want to speak to anyone, either. They just want the data, quickly.”

Brisman, the third generation to run West Point Trailways, Vails Gate, New York, is most interested in the organization’s two newest technology ventures, the Trailways.com website and fulfilling Trailways vision for its Busie cloud-based, trip-planning and charter booking future. He knows internal and systemwide technology are important to a company’s future.

About West Point Trailways

West Point Trailways story begins with Brisman’s industrious grandfather. Max Weiner was busy in the 1920s building bus bodies, parlor cars and transit vehicles before starting a bus service in 1947 for mason workers at expanding postwar construction sites in the West Point and Highland Falls, NY area.

Brisman’s father Jerome Brisman, who graduated from the United States Military Academy West Point in 1952 with a degree in engineering, worked as an engineer around the country for a decade before joining the business in 1962. At that time, the company’s school bus operations began taking off and many of those contracts won back then are still in place with West Point Trailways today.

Bob Brisman and his brother Jay now lead West Point Trailways. Brisman joined after earning a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Syracuse University and a career in finance working for firms in Manhattan and White Plains, New York. “When the insurance market spiked in 1987, I called my father asking if he had any interest in me coming to work for him,” recalls Brisman. “My father was happy to have me on board. We had a good father-and-son relationship. I like the risk and reward along with the diversity of our business.”

A fourth generation has joined the ranks. Brisman’s son Ethan is learning the ropes starting in office reception booking trips. “We’re not letting him drive, that’s not his talent,” jests his dad, who got his CDL when he was 30 years old to drive school bus routes.

Primarily a school bus company, West Point purchased its first motorcoach in 1993 from Chuck Toohy, MCI’s East Coast representative, who Brisman fondly recalls as having a John Wayne persona. They became a Trailways operator in June 2000.

Today, West Point has a fleet of 220 vehicles, including 16 motor coaches for school, charter and tour operations. They keep three coaches exclusively for its contract with the military academy. The company operates Blue Bird activity buses for its daily West Point Tours operations serving West Point’s campus and historical sites.

Describing himself as an escape artist by nature, Brisman is a big reader of novels. His two favorites are author’s Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads and John Irving’s The World According to Garp. “They write about life experiences and enjoyable challenges,” said Brisman, who began playing guitar at the age of nine. He now owns four guitars including Fender electrics and likes to play in the style of Derek Trucks, a top guitarist whose music encompasses blues, rock, jazz and soul. Brisman jams with a group at a local school on Tuesdays. “Escape in the form of music keeps you in a good mood,” he reasons. When it comes to business life, these are his three philosophies: anything is possible; start each day as if it is your first and have a purpose to be of service.



Huskey Trailways turns challenges into advantages

Sometimes the best opportunities are right where we are now. For Huskey Trailways, 2019 was a traumatic year. Kent Huskey, who co-founded the Festus, Missouri charter bus company, died at the age of 55 after routine back surgery. His wife Julie Huskey, who started the business with him in 1996 working side by side, then faced managing the business through COVID-19 lock downs in 2020. Today, driver shortages and increases in fuel costs are among the company’s concerns. Yet through it all, Julie Huskey, who runs the business with her with daughters Katie Brunner and Mollie Pruneau, approaches obstacles with optimism and persistence, finding solutions as she has done since Huskey’s start.

A Trailways member since 2008, Huskey appreciates the long-standing name recognition, networking camaraderie and road support the affiliation brings to her business. “Trailways members think the same way and hold to a higher standard of customer service,” she says.

Those standards, business strategies, and Huskey Trailways dedicated employees, are the reasons Huskey Trailways is enjoying a much-needed, busy spring season. “The first half of 2022 has been really good. Everything is moving,” reports Huskey. “Schools are calling with big trips for band and sports competitions and preferring motor coaches rather than school buses.” But that doesn’t mean business is back to pre-COVID levels. “We are about 60 percent of the way there.” Tours are picking up. Huskey’s April bookings include week long trips to Washington D.C., Florida, Nashville and Branson, among many other local places they travel to in Missouri. The company also provided military transport all through COVID and continues to bid on new contracts.

Huskey shares insights on what’s keeping her fleet rolling:

Never underestimate the power of first impressions

Newer, good-looking motorcoaches, sparkling clean interiors and neatly dressed, personable drivers are Huskey’s rules of the road. “Appearance is everything,” says Huskey. “Our fleet averages around 6-years old or newer. Our vehicles are disinfected daily and smell fresh and clean for our passengers.” Huskey also states, “We are always on the search for more friendly and professional motorcoach operators to join our growing team.”

Office interactions are just as important. “We respond to customer inquiries the same day. I can’t stress that enough,” she adds. “Millennials are beginning to run things and they don’t wait. They want to book charter business quickly or they’ll move on to another (company’s) quote regardless of the price.”

Never stop thinking out of the box

After spending thousands of dollars on help-wanted ads for drivers on Facebook®, newspapers and other media outlets without results, Huskey decided to give Kelly Anderson Impact Solutions a try. Specialists in driver recruitment for the transportation industry, Kelly Anderson takes charge of advertising, finds and pre-screens candidates. Huskey met their representative at UMA EXPO in Long Beach, CA. “We’ve just hired two new drivers they sent our way,” says Huskey. “It costs nearly the same as our ad budget. There are no guarantees, but the firm sent us qualified candidates who were a good fit for us.” Huskey said the female applicant previously drove school buses and wants to switch to driving motor coaches. The other candidate lost his job at a much larger motor coach carrier during COVID and wants to return to driving part-time. Huskey training mandates for drivers include hands-on instruction plus online learning via Trailways new driver training modules and programs offered through MCI Academy as well as other industry suppliers.

Huskey gave its motor coach drivers, who are paid by the day, a significant increase this year. Motorcoach drivers also get a per diem for overnight stays. Huskey offers all employees (who stay beyond 90 days) a simple IRA and three percent match along with supplemental insurance at a self-pay, group rate. Full-time drivers are also eligible for partial pay health insurance.

Manage fleet size and fuel costs with an eye on the future

Half of Huskey’s 50-vehicle fleet include large 56, 40, and 24 passenger motor coaches. COVID caused a pause in Huskey’s ongoing fleet renewal strategy. So today, Huskey is looking to replace older coaches with brand new models to better serve their customer’s needs.

Fortunately for Huskey, the company added a fuel surcharge to its contracts to combat the 2008 financial crisis when the price of crude oil rose. The clause allows the company to add an adjustable percentage increase if fuel rises above $3.50 a gallon. Huskey has also increased rates. “Our customers understand the economic situation and have no problem with our charges,” says Huskey, who sees the acceptance as a good sign for the industry. “Some customers want us to calculate the fuel surcharge another way, but even still we are finally charging what we should have always been paid.”

With the passing of her husband, Huskey’s daughter Mollie, who also worked side by side with her dad, stepped right into his role, managing operations, sales and marketing, and equipment purchasing. Daughter Katie, a former Kindergarten teacher, stepped into the company full-time in 2020 and applies her talents to HR and compliance. Huskey now holds Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Certification. “The certification has allowed us to capitalize on more opportunities, and it took a great deal of effort to become certified. I’m proud that we have it,” she adds.

Huskey and her daughters also own a few other businesses including an online fashion boutique and a vinyl graphics company, which kept them busy during COVID. With six grandchildren and parents to care for, Huskey extends the same kind of protection to customers and colleagues. “We think of everyone as family in our business and treat them that way,” she adds.



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