“But they have buses on their website.”
“Their rates were the best and they guaranteed excellent service.”
“You mean they don’t own any buses at all?”
“I’m so upset; we requested a motor coach and got a school bus.”
“They just cancelled the bus on me the day before our trip.”
These are familiar comments many of our sales staff hear when customers mention their experience with bus brokers.
What’s a bus broker?
A bus broker is an individual or company that sells bus charters, but does not actually own any buses or operations facilities. Sort of like a middle man.
Bus brokers are normally found on the internet and through glitzy nice looking websites giving the impression that they are a bus company. They also regularly appear high up on Google searches because dollars normally allocated by bus companies for buses, employees and facilities is spent on internet advertising.
It should be noted that bus brokers are not held to the same standards or regulations as actual bus companies. Insurance, safety, equipment registration and maintenance are just a few of the areas bus companies are regulated. Brokers may be more concerned with finding the bus for your group from a company that will ensure the most profit, not the safest or most reliable service.
How does the broker process work?
In general, brokers book buses for potential groups and then shop that price to local bus carriers looking for a taker. Sometimes, depending on overall demand, local bus companies are unwilling to accept certain pricing for a broker quoted trip. This could lead to a school bus showing up or even a last minute cancellation.
Determining if you are working with a broker or an actual bus company is difficult.
However, here are some helpful tips when trying to determine if you are working with a bus broker:
- Do research and ask around. Just because someone is offering the cheapest rate does not mean they will provide good service or the buses pictured on their site.
- Be suspicious of a website that touts all types of unmarked buses and service areas all over the country. Very few, if any actual bus companies service the entire country.
- Look for reviews on social media or other digital platforms.
- Ask for an emergency operations number or who do you speak with if there is a problem.
No matter what anyone looking to charter a bus for the first time should shop around and ask lots of questions. Remember that the cheapest isn’t always the best option and the flashiest website isn’t always what it appears to be.