There are plenty of attractions and businesses doing everything they can to attract the attention of coach drivers, understanding that a coach load of passengers represents a substantial amount of business. It might be a simple offer of free entry, or it could be a complete package of benefits where the business really goes out of its way. What follows is a number of attractions where visiting coach drivers are held in the highest regard. James Day looks at some of the top group destinations which are friendly towards the coach industry.
At the Eden Project this summer, visitors can take a thrilling journey 67 million years back in time to the lost world of the dinosaurs. Activities include searching for an escaped T.Rex in the Crater of the Tyrant King, while Dinosaurs Unleashed is an attraction suitable for all ages, with a dig pit, dinosaur exhibition and fascinating fossils. As always, visitors can relax in the beautiful gardens, which are at the height of their blooming season. Free entry is offered to one driver per coach, along with a £10 complimentary catering voucher. A free coach wash is available to use, along with a drivers’ rest room and facilities. It’s free to park coaches at the site.
MyFerryLink has a new service between Dover and Calais, offering a stylish, comfortable crossing from 90 minutes. The MyFerryLink fleet is made up of two state-of-the-art passenger vessels, the Rodin and the Berlioz, which are sister vessels custom built for the route, ensuring customers can relax and enjoy their journey, whichever vessel they sail on. With 16 crossings a day, MyFerryLink provides a fast and frequent service across the Channel. The passenger areas feature eye-catching contemporary décor. There’s a tempting choice of bars, cafés and restaurants, with menus to suit everyone’s budget, each with its own ambience. Because the crew are all partners in the business, you are assured a warm welcome. Coach drivers have access to the dedicated ‘professional drivers lounge,’ where they can enjoy a meal in a relaxed environment, arriving refreshed for the journey ahead. With excellent motorway connections in both Dover and Calais they can be on their way in no time. The on-board boutique is perfect for a bit of retail therapy, stocked with a range of products including wines, spirits, fragrances, tobacco, sweets and gifts.
Located on Liverpool’s historic waterfront, the Albert Dock boasts some of the city’s favourite attractions, home of Tate Liverpool, Merseyside Maritime Museum and The Beatles Story, as well as an array of cafés, restaurants and bars. The Albert Dock’s coach welcome service provides up-to-date info, dedicated pick-up and drop-off points, welcome maps for passengers, free refreshments for drivers and great offers for leisure, educational or business groups. A second drop-off point is located at Liverpool Cathedral (a 15-20 minute walk from the Dock), available from 1000-1500hrs, Monday to Saturday from March to October. Email email@example.com at least 10 working days in advance. The dock also has a number of incentives for coach drivers, including a free hot refreshment at The Beatles Story, food and refreshments at ‘What’s Cooking?’ and snacks and refreshments at Vinea Wine Bar & Deli.
Springfields Outlet Shopping in Spalding offers a coach drivers restroom, with seating, tea and coffee, TV, shower and toilet. It’s a fantastic room to relax, ready for the journey home. The outlet’s other useful facilities for coaches include:
● A dedicated coach drop-off point;
● Personalised meet and greet service;
● Convenient and secure coach parking;
● Driver incentives; and
● A greet and goodbye survey.
Drivers are offered a choice of a £10 Springfields Gift Card, £10 worth of food and drink at Festival Garden Centre Restaurant, The Kitchen or a free tea or coffee with a pastry at Costa Coffee. This is in return for bringing a group of at least 16 passengers, which stays for a minimum of two hours. To book your coach space call 01775 760909 or email enquiries@ springfieldsshopping.com
The Cardiff Bay area has a range of group discounts and coach driver incentives. Discounts and incentives are based on a minimum of 10 people per group. Coach driver identification, stating the name of the company, needs to be shown. At the Norwegian Church, the driver receives a free hot drink and cake when the group visits. Pedal Power offers group bike hire at £5 per person and a 10% discount on group cycle tours. The driver is provided with free cycle hire when the group books either of these options. Wales Millennium Centre offers guided tours at £4.50 per person. Pre-booking is essential, with additional discounts when booked with a show. Depending on the production, groups are given priority booking and discounts on a wide selection of shows. Special hospitality and pre-show dining can be arranged and programmes, interval sweets and ice creams can be booked in advance. The driver is given access to the backstage green room and complimentary tea/coffee and cake in Ffresh Bar or Hufen. For more information contact the Group Sales team on 029 2063 6464 Option 4, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wmc.org.uk
Loch Lomond Shores combines a beautiful environment with an outstanding mixture of leisure and shopping experiences overlooking the majesty of Loch Lomond at Balloch in Scotland. The site is open all year round, with the buildings open daily from 1000hrs. On the first and third Sunday of every month, the attraction welcomes the Loch Lomond Farmers’ Market, with fresh and local produce piled high on every stall. The market kicks off at 1000 and runs until around 1600hrs, but get in early as stock is limited to keep everything as fresh as possible. Loch Lomond Shores offers free coach parking, a drop-off point close to the shops and special discount vouchers and group discounts for passengers. Driver incentives are available.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour provides an amazing opportunity to explore the behind-the-scenes magic of the Harry Potter films. Visitors can step inside and discover the actual Great Hall, explore Dumbledore’s office and discover never-before-seen treasures. A huge array of beautiful sets, costumes and props are on display, including Harry’s Nimbus 2000 and Hagrid’s motorcycle. The average visit to the attraction lasts three and a half hours, though there is no imposed time limit. Group tickets cost £28 per adult and £21 per child up to 15 years. For bookings of 25 or more people, call 0845 084 0900. A complimentary ticket is offered for the coach driver.
Groups can explore the fascinating history of the Royal Marines at the Royal Marines Museum, from 1664 to the present day. Learn about the lives of the extraordinary people who have become Royal Marines. Visitors can follow a recruit through training and on to deployment around the world, then creep through the jungle, marvel at the medal collection and examine the museum’s WW2 homefront kitchen. The museum is also home to an award- winning café, The Quartermaster’s Kitchen. The Royal Marines Museum in Southsea offers a number of benefits for coach groups. Groups of a minimum of 10 receive a 10% discount on admission prices. Coach parking is free and there is admission for the driver and group leader. Complimentary lunch is also provided for both. A group welcome talk can also be requested upon booking. Various packages are available starting from £7 per head. For bookings email email@example.com
TIME FOR A BREAK?
When calling at a Welcome Break Motorway service area with or without passengers and in a professional capacity, coach drivers are invited to eat for the nominal charge of 1p. Drivers can choose one of three meal options; EATIN – a main meal, drink and dessert, Burger King/KFC – up to £6 or Starbucks – up to £5. Additional amounts can be paid for in cash or in £2 Reward Vouchers. All food and drink should be consumed on the premises wherever possible, although drivers are advised to speak to the Duty Manager if takeaway is required. Welcone Break’s staff have been briefed to check for uniforms, I.D badges, Job Sheets and passengers. The company advises that these checks are sometimes not easy or perfect, so drivers should make themselves as easy to identify as possible. Drivers are required to complete the Coach Drivers Logging Sheet, which allows Welcome Break to monitor the use of the scheme.
Loyalty rewards are also offered, as the company wants to reward coach drivers who bring passengers and therefore potential customers into its service areas. Whenever passengers are brought to one of the service stations, drivers receive a voucher to the value of at least £2, redeemable against any purchase in the station’s WH Smiths and Waitrose retail shops (excluding fuel, lottery, tobacco, alcohol or accommodation). The amount of vouchers issued is at the discretion of the Site Director and the local management teams and may vary from day to day. It will never be less than £2 per visit per driver and could often be more. Occasionally, Welcome Break Group runs prize draw incentives for drivers. Details will be available at each service area on coach driver boards and on the Welcome Break website. Vouchers must be redeemed within their expiry date, and cannot be exchanged or replaced once this date has passed.