Navigating the Challenges of Ground Transportation

By Monica Compton, CMP, July 15, 2016

Whether it’s through a discussion with my planner peers or personal experience, I’ve found coordinating a meeting’s ground transportation is one of the most challenging aspects of a program. Sometimes only many years of experience can prepare you when ground transportation goes awry. Here are three examples of logistical setbacks and solutions you can implement to ensure a smooth ride.

The Meet-and-Greet Mishap

My first major ground transportation blunder occurred 16 years ago when I was planning a global leadership meeting. This was pre-9/11 when you could meet passengers at the gate. I was in charge of greeting one of the top executives and escorting him to a driver waiting in baggage claim. I dutifully held the sign with his name and waited for him to deplane. I waited. And waited. My client called to say he couldn’t find me. How could this be? I was in direct view of all passengers coming off the plane. I found out later he had been on his cellphone while walking by and did not see me. Since then, to prepare for a private transfer, I search for the attendee’s LinkedIn profile, print his or her photo, and pass it along to the meet-and-greet staff.

The Drop-off Debacle

I was managing a program where attendees were staying at two hotels. The properties were 20 to 30 minutes apart to accommodate guests coming from neighboring airports. The hotels were the same brand and thus had the same first word in their names. You might imagine what happened next: A driver dropped off an attendee at the wrong hotel. It was late, and the attendee was coming in from Europe. He didn’t realize he was at the wrong hotel until he tried to check in.

The takeaway here: Prior to the program, have a sit-down meeting or conference call with the transportation company and review all drop-off points. This is especially important when attendees are flying into multiple airports and staying at more than one hotel.  Although the manifest may list the airport or hotel, a verbal run-through can reveal discrepancies in arrival times, flight numbers and airport terminals.

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