Texas Bus Company Caters to Fed-Up Air Travelers

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.

Credit: Vonlane.

Credit: Vonlane.

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.”

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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.

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