It’s prom season again as VIP Transportation is seeing its calendar fill up.
Lynn Pilcher has co-owned the Quad-City-based luxury shuttle and transportation service with her husband since 2018. The limousine driver-turned-business owner said she is as busy as ever despite the lingering effects of COVID-19.
“Things are definitely coming back to the level prior to COVID,” she said. “We’re really happy to see proms returned, but we’re cognizant of doing those as safely as possible.”
Her fleet of nine vehicles range in size from accommodating as few as one or two riders up to large buses with a capacity for 32 passengers. They include the VIP Limo Coach, the H2 Stretch Hummer Limousine, the Red and Green Davenport Trolley’s, a GMC Denali, and the Original Boom Boom Buses.
Pilcher said each vehicle is sanitized before and after every trip per CDC guidelines laid down in light of the COVID pandemic. Drivers are required to wear masks, and passengers, depending on certain specifications, are required to have masks as well.
Although some social distancing restrictions have been lifted, Pilcher said passenger safety has always been her company’s biggest priority.
“We strive to make sure passenger safety is our number one concern,” she said.
As a ground transportation company, VIP is under the authority of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA.
The drivers, all CDL-licensed, are the backbone of the company.
“We have the greatest team of professional drivers,” Pilcher said. “Without them this would not be possible.”
As dedicated as they are, the pool of a dozen drivers may not to be enough to keep up with exploding demand. Proms and weddings are filling up the Saturday schedule through May.
Summer is a peak time for weddings, some of which were postponed from last year because of COVID. With restaurants and bars reopened, the calls for nighttime transportation are pouring in.
VIP Transportation is also anticipating a full slate of summer festivals, which are being brought back online after being canceled during 2020. The company works closely with a number of local vendors, especially during the LeClaire-Port Byron Tug Fest.
“Things were a lot different than they are now,” Pilcher said. “When COVID hit, we saw 80 percent of our reservations canceled or postponed, many of those being weddings. They simply were not able to happen with a worldwide pandemic going on. Now that things have come back, I don’t ever want to go through another 2020.”
Pilcher is happy to see demand growing again, as long as she’s able to find enough qualified drivers.
“The demand is now almost to the point where it is more than the capacity or availability we have,” she said. “When I look at the next several weekends we’re completely booked up. If I had 10 more vehicles and drivers, I could book them. That is a good problem to have.”
Customers can book any vehicle in the fleet up to 15 months in advance, and the 2022 calendar is already beginning to fill up.
VIP Transportation is a member of the Illinois Limousine and Bus Association, or ILLBA, and the National Limousine Association, or NLA. The company operates within a 100-mile radius of the metropolitan Quad-Cities.
Having won numerous awards, VIP Transportation has an excellent reputation in the bistate area.
“We at VIP Transportation love being of service to the entire Quad-City area and regionally for anyone’s transportation needs whether that’s corporate transportation or guest shuttles,” Pilcher said. “Whatever the need is, we’re happy to help with limousines, trollies or buses.” “Great service is how we roll”