In any given service industry performance or endeavor, one is only as good as their last mistake. In any company crisis or disaster, a similar dynamic applies.
Have a solid plan regardless of the nature of the incident. The public in their very soul are typically forgiving, sympathetic, and understanding when bad things happen to good people.
However, let me make one thing perfectly clear. The public is not stupid and if they catch you lying, covering up or diverting blame they will turn on you in a heartbeat.
Based on the age and size of the luxury ground transportation industry, the number of catastrophic events versus the quantity of trips and people count are substantially less then Amtrak, airlines and bus lines. Although no exact metric exists, studies typically compare people versus miles versus incidents to determine statistics. Nonetheless, we have had our share of very dark days.
In Schoharie, the staggering loss of life combined with a twisted backstory of every bad form of drama and dysfunction will never be forgotten. All the crisis management and damage control expertise would be challenged by this crisis of epic proportion.
Then Saturday August 6 arrived. A party bus in Chicago goes on a slow motion rampage sideswiping 18 vehicles. The party bus segment of our respective industries already have public relation issues. Specifically by the City of Chicago. They don’t like them; they have no use for them, and the Police agree.
Furthermore, this disaster was filmed, uploaded, and shared over a million times. I did some basic research on the provider since they branded their vehicle for everyone to see.
They are based in Valparaiso Indiana roughly 50 miles east of Chicago. They have a good reputation. They appear for all practical purposes to be good honest business people who take pride in their company. But now they have a big problem. Over a million people saw them in the worst light possible. This is when crisis management takes over.
They issue a statement. This is the time to shine. Take whatever responsibility is needed, make it clear you will follow up. Make amends and do it with honesty, sincerity, and empathy.
My take on the statement, it was full unadulterated baloney. I use the word baloney because I am not fond of using curse words like Bullshit.
They say the police have not released details. They claim the driver was not impaired. They make it clear they learned most of the facts from the media.
I think I know what happened. I was born at night but not last night. The following synopsis is my theory and opinion only with no concrete facts to back it up.
We know everything we need to know about the service provider. We know the Chicago Police found the driver, arrested him and can now see the actual bodycam initial interview. We know the driver lives at home with his mother. We know he had some past issues with law enforcement including narcotics.
We are missing one part of the story. One key part of the story. Where are the passengers? The service has their name, cell phones and certainly, credit card info, email address and I am betting they know where they live.
My hunch continues. The group gets picked up, they are going to Wrigley Field for the Cubs game. They befriend the driver and perhaps offers him a “pre tip” of maybe, possibly, allegedly party supplies. The driver possibly accepts the toxic pre tip and after they were dropped at the friendly confines, he then ingests said alleged edibles. He then embarks on his own little trip(ing) and the rest is history.
Next thing you know social media blows up, maybe the group learned about it on social media, possible someone in Valparaiso caught wind and tipped them off. Either way if my theory has meat on the bone, this group realizes they have a problem. Could be they all decide to Uber to Union Station, then take the train back home and swear everyone to secrecy.
Anyone’s guess. Bottom line. Be straight. As scattered and spread as our industry is we are still brethren at heart. Help is out there, but if you don’t do it right, if you don’t do it with integrity, you give the entire industry a black eye.