You might think the bus transportation business – and bus operator marketing – are boring.
That’s the wrong answer in Texas, where a new company offers a unique transportation option to fed-up Lone Star State travelers.
Vonlane puts a smart-differentiation twist on the old-fashioned bus ride. It’s a reminder that when you think like an end-user, you may find a path toward commercially successful differentiation.
Vonlane demonstrates, at least sometimes, that what appears to be a commodity product or service doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else.
(On a related note, I wrote about Boltbus back in 2009, which offered enhanced amenities versus traditional bus operators in a strongly branded concept.)
Vonlane provides high-end bus transportation between Dallas-Austin and Dallas-Houston, with service coming soon between Austin and Houston. The company is positioning itself as a premium-comfort, practical, efficient and cost-effective alternative to regional airplane flights.
“People are tired of the hassle of the airport,” said Vonlane founder and CEO Alex Danza in a KRLD radio interview. His company offers an alternative.
Consider these amenities and service features:
- Roomy, first-class-style leather seating (no middle seats)
- Complimentary Wi-Fi, refreshments/snacks/meals, noise cancelling headsets, and a wireless printer
- Personal 110v electrical outlet
- Satellite television and radio are available
- Private 6-seat conference room (available via reservation) outfitted with three flat-panel monitors for laptop projection
- Plus an on-board attendant and galley
“We’re helping people reclaim the hours that are typically wasted when flying or driving between Texas cities,” explained Danza in a company release. “Whether someone wants to be productive during their trip or simply relax, we’ve created the ideal environment and experience.”
Parking, including valet parking, is available at Vonlane’s terminals, located at Doubletree Love Field (Dallas), Hyatt Regency Austin, and Sheraton North Houston at George Bush Intercontinental.
Fares are $100 each way. Vonlane says that’s “priced competitively with the lowest coach-class airline fares, half the price of the typical fare selected by business travelers and more cost effective than IRS reimbursement levels for personal vehicle mileage.”
The Dallas-Austin route is approximately 200 miles each way. A $200 round-trip fare providing reduced travel hassles and high-productivity opportunities seems very reasonable. The same goes for the Houston route, which is a bit longer at approximately 235 miles.
Vonlane’s buses are configured with 16 main seats, plus another six in the private conference room. The cost to reserve the conference room is $399, which is an excellent value for rolling, team meetings of 4+ (essentially two free seats for a group of six).
“Vonlane is one of a handful of new companies in the luxury bus space,” writes Steve Hargreaves in CNN Money. “It’s part of a surge in the number of new offerings in express, city-to-city bus service — both luxury and discount. Driven largely by European money, America finally has what Europeans and Asians have enjoyed for decades: Decent buses.”
In his radio interview, Danza stated that Vonlane’s customer profile is 65% business travelers with the remainder leisure journeyers.
Harvey Chimoff is a marketing and business team leader who drives performance in consumer products and manufacturing companies.