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An operator standing by its firm principles

By The Whisperer

With many years in the coach and bus industry, The Whisperer keeps his ear to the ground for all the latest tit-bits and gossip. Tell him what’s going on in your part of the world: e-mail him via

With 15 years in the business, Dover operator Bayliss Executive Travel’s ethos has always been to provide the best. The firm reveals how it does just that

When it comes to starting a business, it is important that goals are put in place and that these objectives are not lost along the way.

The firm operates a 16-strong fleet on a variety of work

For Dover-based Bayliss Executive Travel, it’s always been about being able to provide the best drivers, the best vehicles and, overall, the best service.

“When the company was established, it was with a view to be able to provide a level of service unrivalled by anyone, anywhere,” says Operations Manager, Rob Marriott.  

It was in 2004 that Bayliss was set up by Scotsman Alistair Bayliss, running a seven-seat VW Caravelle. Work consisted of feeder work for companies such as Leger Holidays, Consort Travel and Travelsphere Holidays.

“One of our biggest clients was SMS, which is a Maltese company. It was running quite a few ground handling cruise ships from Dover, Southampton and Harwich, so there was quite a bit of work from that as well,” says Rob.

When Rob joined the firm in 2005 it enabled the business to grow as there were now two people to do the work.

The fleet size grew steadily with the addition of two 16-seater minibuses and the firm’s first full-size coach was bought in 2009.

“We took on more drivers and the business has grown from there to what we are today,” Rob explains.

A one-stop shop

Bayliss now operates a 16-strong fleet made up of seven full-size coaches, two VIP coaches, a minibus, a midibus, three double-decker buses and two cars. Two of the full-size coaches are 75-seat over-deckers, which Rob describes as “very successful vehicles” due to their capacity for one wheelchair user and huge amount of luggage space.

Managing Director Alistair Bayliss set the firm up in 2004

While some operators have found their niche over time, focusing on certain types of work – whether that be privates hires, coach tours or anything in between – Bayliss operates a varied portfolio, with Rob describing the business as a “one-stop shop for coach transport needs”.

Work consists of private hires – including airport and cruise transfers – daily school runs, and occasional rail replacement work. The firm also operates its own day breaks and UK and European holidays – a part of the business that is headed up by Alistair’s partner Simone.

Sports travel partnerships also make up part of Bayliss’ work, with the company providing transport for local football, rugby and cricket clubs.

VIP team coach

It also became the official travel partner for Sheffield United Football Club in 2014 – the first-ever team coach supplier for the Club – and a partnership that has just been renewed with the delivery of a new SC7-bodied Volvo B11R in January.

Bayliss’ Sheffield United team coach is ‘creating a lot of interest’

“Our relationship with Sheffield United originated from one of our Maltese clients who sponsored them quite a few years ago and we got involved,” explains Rob.

“We told them we wanted to provide them with a coach to bring the team’s families and any sponsors down to their FA Cup semi-finals match against Hull City at Wembley Stadium.

“We then got a phone call from Sheffield United saying they would like to use the vehicle for the first team, so I drove them down to Wembley.

“From there, Sheffield United invited us to continue the season with the vehicle. We ended up buying a new coach for the next season and it’s gone on from there.”

The team coach has been completely specified to the team’s exacting requirements. The interior of the Volvo B11R includes a number of bespoke features including leather seats, a medical table, kitchen, satellite TV and enhanced subwoofer audio system. 

“It’s creating a lot of interest,” says Rob. “Not just from within the industry, but we’ve also been approached by a few different football teams as well, which is really great.”

Glowing reviews

When the VIP coach isn’t being used to transport the Sheffield United team, it is being utilised by running routes for Snap – the on-demand scheduled intercity coach specialist.

Operations Manager Rob Marriott: ‘We’re a one-stop shop’

The coach is used to pick up Snap customers from London and take them to Nottingham, before going onto Sheffield and taking the football team to a match – with the appropriate driver rest in between.

Says Rob: “We started working with Snap towards the end of last year and the relationship we’ve developed with them works really well for us – their concept is brilliant.

“We would like to operate more Snap routes if we could, but where we are based it makes things a little bit difficult.”

Although Bayliss hasn’t been running Snap routes for long, its drivers and vehicles are already getting glowing reviews from passengers.

Snap’s Service Delivery Director, Paul Adcock, says: “Snap customers rate every trip they take with us and we use those ratings to award new ‘Snaps’ to the operators they rate the best.

“Bayliss get absolutely brilliant ratings – with a 4.85 out of 5 average over the last six months – because ‘Snappers’ love its friendly drivers and customer service and when they get the VIP team coach as well, that’s the hat trick.”

Award-winning firm

Bayliss’ commitment to providing high-quality vehicles, drivers and services was rewarded at last year’s British Coach Tourism Awards where it took home the Medium Coach Tour Operator of the Year accolade.

Judges were suitably impressed with the operator’s “high standard of presentation, smart modern branding and attractive livery”, stating that Bayliss “clearly shows the benefits of moving with the times and staying upmarket and up to date”.

Rob says: “We try not to blow our own trumpet. It may seem with the awards we have won and have been shortlisted in recently that we have changed our ways, but we haven’t. We still like to keep ourselves to ourselves and get on quietly with doing the best job we can.”

Strong commitment

The firm’s commitment to compliance has also been strengthened by its recent CoachMarque accreditation.

The VIP coach has been specified to the team’s exacting requirements

Founded by the Confederation of Passenger Transport, members of the scheme are benchmarked against a strict set of criteria and independently audited on a regular basis to ensure that they continue to meet and provide the highest levels of standards in coaching.

“You’ve got to have all sorts of procedures in place to be a CoachMarque member and it is an elite group of operators, so we are very proud to be a part of it,” says Rob.

“It’s another feather in our cap to show the industry and our current and prospective clients that Bayliss’ standards are very high.

“We will continue to keep these standards up every year to remain a CoachMarque member and we are also working towards becoming part of DVSA’s Earned Recognition scheme.”

Exciting times ahead

It has been 15 years since Bayliss was established and when it comes to the business’s success, Rob attributes this to hard work and good drivers.

“We like to think we look after our drivers from top to bottom because they’re not just a number to us – they’re a huge part of the business. Without them we wouldn’t be able to run, so we make sure that we look after them and in turn they are great ambassadors for the company,” he says.

While no solid plans have been made to celebrate the firm’s 15-year anniversary, there are plans to continue to invest in the fleet this year.

Says Rob: “With London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone and other Clear Air Zones coming into place in other cities, we have to make sure we are prepared. Already 95% of our vehicles are Euro 6, but we’re looking to replace more in the next few months.

“There is some exciting news coming up, but we can’t reveal it yet, so watch this space.”