Taking a back seat

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 Chana Viljoen looks at which car rental companies offer Business Traveller the option of being chauffeur-driven.

Finding your way in a foreign city can be daunting, which is why many business travellers prefer to be driven around by a chauffeur. The option is also popular amongst travellers who want to catch up on work, phone calls or emails while fighting the traffic, and those who feel too exhausted to drive themselves.

According to Michelle Jolley, Marketing Manager for Corporate Traveller, chauffeur-drive services are almost exclusively used for senior executives or business travellers, who require the flexibility and convenience this service provides. She adds that it is also often used when travellers are going to be away for long periods of time (three to seven days).

Bev Vorster of Door2Door Transfer and Chauffeur Services, operating the chauffeur service for Budget Car Rental, says the chauffeur/transfer service is becoming more popular because business travellers use their time in the vehicle more productively which, in most cases, provides an average of two additional hours of work per day. “The price paid for the chauffeur service is minimal relative to the increased productivity of the passenger,” she adds.

The advantages

Jolley points out that a traveller won’t need to worry about parking fees, getting back to a dirty car or walking far to find their vehicle in the parking lot. Another advantage she mentions is that it saves travellers’ time, and after a long flight they won’t want to negotiate their way home. She adds: “Who needs the hassle of car hire with a GPS if you don’t know the city, when a transfer or chauffeur-drive will get you where you need to go?”

Mike Shapland of Avis Chauffeur Drive, says there are three major reasons for business people to use this service. They use it for safety as the fleet consists of new vehicles, with trained and security-vetted chauffeurs with local knowledge of the area, and the backup of all the vehicles being monitored and tracked. It also offers convenience and reliability. Shapland says: “With a service incident statistic of below 0,02% on transfers, we have been able to introduce a reliable service that professionals can rely upon for getting them to their destination without having to worry about service issues.”

Any disadvantages?

Jolley mentions that the service has to be pre-booked. “There is almost no such thing as a last-minute chauffeur. Companies who operate these services cannot afford to have a chauffeur waiting at an airport on the off-chance that someone might need them.” She also says the cost can be prohibitively high. “A group’s transfer or a point-to-point transfer is more affordable than an individual chauffeur drive”.

What’s on offer?

Avis

Avis Chauffeur Drive was introduced commercially by Avis eight years ago. From a small business this has now grown to transfers taking place roughly every 90 seconds of the working day, equating to about 17 000 transfers nationally every month.

Which areas are covered?

Johannesburg

Bloemfontein

Cape Town

Port Elizabeth

East London

George

Durban

Vehicles:

An exciting, constantly updated range of low-mileage vehicles to choose from including luxury sedans, 4x4s, two-seater roadsters and convertibles. An economy Toyota can also be booked.

How it works:

A reservation needs to be made in advance, including the traveller’s name, delivery and collection address, as well as the date and time of delivery and collection. The type of vehicle as well as the type of service required and type of chauffeur/tour guide required should also be specified.

Budget

Budget Door2Door vehicles are all equipped with tracker, so in the event of any incident, Budget can react immediately to an emergency. Drivers are taught defensive driving techniques and given extensive training to meet customer requirements.

Which areas are covered?
Gauteng

KwaZulu-Natal

Western Cape

Vehicles:

Economy- Toyota Corolla or similar

Luxury- Mercedes Benz and Audi A6

Passenger-carrying vehicles- Toyota Quantum/ VW T5

Wheelchair transport- specialised vehicles designed to transfer people using wheelchairs

How it works:

Budget Door2Door will meet you at your designated location and transfer you to your destination. The service is not limited to business hours – Budget will meet the customer’s requirements. An after-hours fee is charged for transfers between 21h00 and 04h00.

Europcar

Europcar now offers a chauffeur service in association with Imperial Chauffeur Drive. Complimentary refreshments of chilled still or sparkling water are placed in all chauffeur-driven vehicles with the exception of the economy vehicles.

Which areas are covered?

Gauteng (Johannesburg, Sandton, Pretoria)

Cape Town

Durban

George

Port Elizabeth

East London

Polokwane

Nelspruit

Kimberley

Bloemfontein

Vehicles:

Economy class- Toyota Yaris Sedan

Comfort class- Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Executive class- Mercedes-Benz E-Class

MPV: Volkswagen TDi or Toyota Quantum

How it works:

There are two services offered by Imperial Chauffeur Drive: transfer service and flexi drive service. With the transfer service, a chauffeur will arrive at the required pick-up point 15-20 minutes early, and will transfer the client to the required address. With the flexi drive service, the chauffeur will transport the customer to all their destinations for the length of their stay.

First Car Rental

First Car Rental’s joint venture with EZShuttle has been successful and has experienced a 30% increase in volume year-on-year over the past three years. Transfers from A to B, as well as a chauffeur service are offered.

Which areas are covered?

Gauteng

Eastern Cape

Western Cape

KwaZulu-Natal

Vehicles:

There is a range of vehicles from mid-sized vehicles with leather interior and climate control to a variety of passenger vans.

How it works:

Pick-up points are anywhere clients need to be picked up. First runs 24 hours a day. The service is quoted on the basis of the pick-up point and a distance and time limitation. Chauffeur drivers can be booked for a maximum of 12 hours, which includes 250 km.

Tempest

Tempest offers a product called Tempest Transfers which offers airport transfers as well as a flexi drive option. These are operated by Imperial Chauffeur Drive on behalf of Tempest. The product is popular amongst business travellers, but there is some uptake from leisure travellers when flights are late at night or early in the morning.

Which areas are covered?

Johannesburg

Durban

Cape Town

Vehicles:

Trips are done either in a people carrier or in a Group B type vehicle. Tempest Transfers does not offer transfers in luxury vehicles.

How it works:

Transfers can be booked on the client’s corporate car rental account or paid by credit card and the service may be booked online or through the 24/7 call centre. Rates are competitive and charges are per trip, not per person.