Tips for renting a stretch limo
Hiring a stretched limousine need not be a hit and miss affair if you ask the right questions and take account of the following.
No two limousine operators are the same and different organisations place varying levels of emphasis on service levels and investment in their fleet. You can gain an insight into the way a company operates by how responsive they are and the professionalism of their approach. For example, if you have completed an online enquiry form, how long does it take for them to respond, have they correctly interpreted your requirements and is the quotation professional or just a dismissive a one liner?
Similarly telephone enquiries can also provide an insight into how a limousine operator is likely to handle their customers. Is your call answered promptly and professionally with the company name, are they friendly or evasive when answering your questions, do they offer to send you a written confirmation of the price, or is your call answered by a telephone answering machine.
If you are visiting websites look for signs that they are a professional limousine operator. Do they have a fixed line number or just a mobile phone, does the website include the name of the company or individual, is there a physical contact address, or just a PO Box number, or worst still, no address at all? These are indicators, not definitive signs of a poor organisation, but you should ask yourself why, for example, a limousine operator would not want to include their full company name or physical address.
Because the limousines are a critical aspect of the hire, look to see if the website includes images of their own vehicles. Study the pictures, many companies use generic pictures of limousines, if this is the case, ask yourself why they would not want to show images of their own vehicles. One clue maybe to look at where the picture was taken and the registration plate, if it looks as if it was taken in the USA, then take care. Also ask about signage on the vehicle, some operators use their limousines as advertising hoardings, which can leave many hirers disappointed.
If you come across a broker offering to secure quotations on your behalf you will need to consider the following. Most limousine operators will be paying for each enquiry they receive or a percentage of the hire value, will you end up paying a premium price for the convenience of using a third party? Some of these brokers describe their limousine operators as accredited or approved. If this is the case ask what this process entails, what guarantees if any, the accreditation process provides you, for example, will the broker underwrite the hire and also how often are the operators checked? You also need to bear in mind that you are relying on a 3rd party to complete your research, which means you are dealing with two entities of which you have no previous experience.
Whilst there is inevitably a temptation to decide on price, this should only form part of the process given, as should become clear from your research, all limousine operators are not equal. A professional limousine operator may charge £10 or £15 per hour more, but on an average hire of 5 hours, this amounts to no more than £75, a small premium to pay in order to secure a professional service, from an established full-time operator with modern limousines.
Another aspect to consider is the length of the hire. The average time taken to prepare a stretched limousine prior to hire is around 2.5 hours. Therefore, most professional operators will impose a minimum charge and/or a hire duration of 3 hours or so, this may be higher during peak periods. The minimum hire charge is likely to be in the region of £150. Beware of any company that does not apply these caveats given it often means that the operator intends to use the vehicle for several hires on the day. Inevitably this can lead to problems relating to reliability or timing and more often than not, a vehicle that has not been properly prepared. It is also worth bearing in mind that many limousine operators offer a reduced hire charge for mid-week hires, so if this is an option, don't discount it.
Another aspect to bear in mind when searching for a limousine for your event is reliability. Stretched limousines are expensive to service and repair which inevitably results in some operators attempting to delay repairs until the last possible moment. Unfortunately poorly maintained limousines are notoriously unreliable. Whilst it is reasonable for you to expect the limousine operator to be diligent in such matters, it does not necessarily follow that they are and it may well affect your hire! In many cases a cheap hire really does result in a cheap service. Listed below are some useful questions to ask of your limousine operator.
Questions to ask Limousine Operators
- How long have you been in business?
- How many vehicles do you have?
- Where are you based?
- How old are you vehicles?
- Where can I view your limousines?
- Are there any minimum charges or hire durations?
- Are you a full-time limousine operator?
- What does the price include (VAT, Drinks, Gratuities etc)?
- What contingencies do you have if the limousine breaks down?
- What guarantee do I have that I will receive the limousine I have chosen?
- Do you have the appropriate private hire insurance, can I view it?
- Will I receive a written confirmation of the price?
- Do you provide a booking confirmation with the itinerary and price included?
- What payment methods do you accept?
- What is the deposit and when is the balance due?
- What livery is on the limousine is it discreet?
Questions to ask Brokers
- What does your accreditation or approval process consist of?
- How often do you complete this procedure?
- Will I be able to see a copy of the last report for the company I book with?
- How can I be certain that I will receive the limousine I ask for?
- Do you provide any guarantees regarding operator reliability?
- Will I have to pay any extra if I use your service, either directly or indirectly?
- Who do I pay?
- How can I be certain that you are truly an independent service?
- Can I be sure that my email address will only be used for the purpose of a quotation?
None these questions are unreasonable and no professional limousine operator will have any objections responding positively, however, if you meet with resistance or the answers are evasive, it should be a case of caveat emptor or ‘ let the buyer beware’.
- Prepare your questions in advance
- Know who you are dealing with (Trading name, physical address, landline number etc)
- Don’t be frightened of asking probing questions.
- Insist on viewing images of the actual limousine or visit the premises
- Get everything in writing, the quotation and the itinerary
- Make sure you are comparing on a genuine ‘like for like’ basis
- Consider hiring your limousine mid-week, where significant savings can be gained
- Never be tempted to decide on price alone
- Check t&c's of the hire
- If in doubt, keep searching!
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