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Recently an International Inbound Tour Operator stated that he claimed R150 000 back from a coach operator over a touring season due to poor service delivery - basically 15% of its total cost for bus hire on a particular tour series.

Taking into account that the coach operator in question is generally considered to be a reputable company - owning a substantial fleet with depots in both Cape Town and Johannesburg - the poor service delivery scenario seems quite surprising. However, it has been the trend lately that some coach owners and operators focus more on survival than on service delivery of acceptable standards.

Another scenario involves coach companies that are owned by large holding companies active in other industries. Whether these coach companies operate profitably and effectively with proper service delivery standards is almost an irrelevant matter to these holding companies - as long as the safety requirements are met with no bad publicity in the media with regard to accidents,all is fine.

Whatever the case may be, it seems that suppliers in the bus hire market have become plain "order takers" with little regard to the level of service they offer their clients - almost like "well, I own the R3m bus and you don't - so take it or leave it". The more reputable companies sometimes have a blatantly arrogant attitude, since salaries get paid at the end of the month by the "big sister" holding companies and they couldn't care less about retaining clients through good service.
Those that do care are unfortunately so involved in tough recession survival strategies that they also fall out of the bus - pardon the pun - resulting in a bus hire industry that is plagued with poor service delivery.

All is it not lost for buyers in the bus hire market though. As with any other industry where a huge gap is left through poor service delivery by suppliers, the rise of Charter Management Companies (CMCs) are slowly but surely filling this gap,not only offering the level of service that buyers deserve, but also offering its clients very competitive rates by taking advantage of the current over supply of buses in the market.

Are these Charter Management Companies here to stay? Well unless there is an inherentchange in the way bus owners / coach companies do business in general, CMCs are going to flourish - maybe that will start the fire that is necessary for some of these coach companies to wake up and smell the roses - a few CMCs upsetting the status quo can only be beneficial to the industry.

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