Coachmarque has prepared itself for the industry’s recovery period with an in-depth review of the accreditation scheme, carried out earlier in 2021. That work evaluated what Coachmarque is and what it does, what members need from it and how it can assist their rebuilding, preparation of a strategy document and how its aims will be delivered.
That was the message from Chair Roland Eglinton at a members’ meeting on 23 June. Mr Eglinton, who is Managing Director of Chalkwell Coach Hire, succeeded previous Chair John Johnson in late 2020. He is supported by Richard Grey of Greys of Ely as Vice Chair.
Mr Eglinton notes that while Coachmarque has been on the “back burner” during the COVID-19 crisis, “it is a fundamentally good scheme and is still needed by the industry.” But it must justify its subscription fee and add value to members’ businesses, he says. That has become increasingly important as operators scrutinise all such outgoings in view of the damage done by the pandemic.
Coachmarque develops vision statement as part of review work
Developed as part of the review work has been a vision statement: Showcasing the best coach operators in the UK, with emphasis on quality, safety and the environmental benefits of coach travel. A list of goals has been produced, majoring on retaining and growing membership, adding value, holding regular events, generating leads and increasing Coachmarque’s profile.
Members have benefited from a free first six months of 2021, covered by cash reserves that had been accrued.
Mr Eglinton says that such a move was an “appropriate thing to do” when the effects of COVID-19 on the sector were considered.
What will not change is Coachmarque’s position as part of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT). Recently appointed Coaching Manager Phil Smith is Coachmarque members’ first point of contact, but in a bid to add a dedicated resource that is separate from CPT, Transport Partners has been engaged to handle membership administration.
Allan Edmundson will provide most of that support. Mr Edmundson is well known to the industry and he is familiar with Coachmarque and CPT through previous links with both bodies. He also has connections with other associations that are relevant to coaching.
Among those is the Global Passenger Network (GPN). Coachmarque is now the UK’s representative at GPN. It is hoped that presence will allow further best practice to be shared with Coachmarque members while delivering other benefits from connections in other countries, from both a support and a sales perspective and also through GPN’s supplier partners.
Focus on marketing as part of efforts to build scheme
A major part of the planned development of Coachmarque is the engagement of JR Buzz.
The public transport marketing specialist will work to raise awareness of Coachmarque both within and outside the industry, and it will improve member communications. Growing website traffic and lead generation is also part of JR Buzz’s remit.
Mr Eglinton notes that some previous comment around Coachmarque has centred on its marketing efforts. The addition of external resource there, and for member administration, is deliberate. It will be focused entirely on Coachmarque and is intended to help wider efforts to build the scheme for members’ benefit in the post-pandemic world.