Most people that rent a limousine have very little experience in it. In many areas, the limousine industry is unregulated and anyone can buy a cheap used limousine and call themselves a company, regardless of their reputation, business sense, investment in their assets, and professionalism. As well, there are many out of area "lead farmers" that buy local looking URLS's, purchase a local phone number that forwards to a call center and create websites that appear to look like a local company. They take your booking and then try to sell it to a discount (unknown to you) local company for a profit! If they take your booking and can't find a local limo company to take your lead, you won't actually have a booking! Here is an example of a copycat lead farmer: (We are www.daytonlimo.com, a real local company)
Finding one of the local legitimate businesses that provide proper insurance, licensing, have an established reputation, and safe, maintained and reliable limousines used to be very challenging. Today, with a little online research you can find and rent a great limousine directly from a real local company and assure that your event is safe and memorable. We've provided this handy FAQ guide and some great tips on asking the right questions and what you can expect in terms of COST and POLICIES when renting a limousine.
What size limousines are there?
In the last decade there has been a wide variety of different converted vehicles added to the formal transportation industry, "Limo" busses have come to the market and were introduced for the "party" segment. Many LimoBus conversions are now targeting other segments and even though they don't provide an exterior "formal" presentation, if you simply want to move a lot a people, these can serve your need.
Generally speaking, if you are renting a 10-passenger limousine stretched from a car, the vehicle seating won't accommodate 10-people comfortably unless they are all very petite! You may want to seek a larger vehicle in such cases. Generally speaking, you should subtract at least 2 from the vehicle rating for adults for maximum comfort, depending on their size. Take careful consideration not only to how many, but as to whom is riding in the limousine to determine what size vehicle to rent. SUV Limousines are much roomier and a 10 passenger SUV limo will typically be fine for 10 adults, given average sizes.
How much does it cost to rent a limousine?
There are a lot of variables in this question. Legitimately operated limousine rentals run in the neighborhood of $125 - $300 per hour with a MINIMUM of two or three hours booked. Most companies require a minimum of 2 or 3 hours to provide service, with exception to standard airport service.
Generally speaking, renting a limousine can be compared to renting a hotel room. There is a large span of quality and service levels to choose from, and the difference in price is usually determined by what you get or don't get. You will usually find that "you get what you pay for" and special attention should be paid to what you DON'T get since the limousine industry in many states or counties is not regulated. Very simply put, do your homework and check online reviews!
Here are some hourly rental guidelines
Your chauffeur makes his/her money on gratuity. Be sure to accomodate GRATUITY (Typically 20%) and TAXES (Varies by location) in your budget.
The differences in the lower to higher priced offerings could be for many reasons, such as age of vehicle, condition of vehicle, cost of business services provided (insurance, advertising, etc) Generally speaking, in any market, a higher price usually gets you something more and a lower price gets you something less. Ask what it is!
What is included with limousine service?
It is very important to ask about the 'all-inclusive price' when reserving a limousine. Unfortunately, some companies are unscrupulous in their billing methods and will tack on extra charges such as non-existent highway taxes, fuel surcharges, beverages, waiting time, travel times, tolls, and other miscellaneous charges. While such cases are rare, it is a good idea to get the all-inclusive price, which should include the TOTAL FARE. (Usually may not include sales tax as the law requires it to be listed separately) This is especially important when renting a limousine for a third party such as a wedding couple or younger kids celebrating prom or homecoming. Ask for an email confirmation laying out all charges and conditions.
Why can't I find a limousine for 1 hour?
Most companies require a minimum 2 or 3 hour booking to rent the vehicle. This is due to the large expense and cost involved in securing and maintaining these assets. The average limousine can run around $75,000-$150,000 new! A one-hour rental is simply not cost effective because the vehicle is only in 'paid-service' for one hour; however actual vehicle run time may be more than 2 hours. Other costs that make a 1-hour rental not possible is vehicle preparation time and driver salary.
In addition, during prom or other high demand season, minimum hourly booking requirements may increase to 5-8 hours due to the overwhelming demand for limousines. You are more likely to get struck by lightning than getting a limousine rental for 1 or 2 hours during prom or special event season. Some companies may offer special exceptions to this rule depending on fleet availability and their current scheduling considerations.
Do I have to tip the chauffeur, and if so, how much?
YES! Your chauffeur is working in the service industry just like a waiter or bartender, but assumes a much more responsible role. The standard tip is 20% of the total fare. If you feel your driver has performed in an exceeding manner (as a chauffeur), you can tip more. Some companies will AUTOMATICALLY include the gratuity (tip) in their total price quote so that you don't have to worry about it at the end of the charter. When making reservations, always ask if GRATUITY is included in the total price. If not, you should budget an extra twenty percent minimum towards your total bill for driver gratuity.
Can I drink alcohol in the limousine?
Typically “yes” if it is legal in your area. The laws vary from state to state so ask when you book the limousine. Underage drinking in a limousine is ILLEGAL, no matter what state you live in and a reputable company WILL NOT allow it, so you risk losing your charter total and being arrested or severely fined if YOU violate the law.
We want to rent a limousine to take us to a concert. Do we have to pay for the time while we are in the concert even though we aren't using the limousine?
In such cases where you aren't occupying the limousine during your rental (such as bar-hopping, dinner reservations, concerts, sporting events, etc.) you still have to pay for the rental time, even though you aren't physically inside the vehicle, much like a hotel room works. Even though you are not using the vehicle while at a concert, the vehicle cannot be used elsewhere; even when there are 2 or 3 hours in between drop-off and pickup. You may leave your things inside the vehicle and the driver is still on call should you have a special need or change your itinerary..
In addition, if there are more than 4-5 hours between drop-off and pick-up and you remain local, some companies may offer a "split" - just a rental to-and-from your destination with no charge for waiting time in between, however this option offers inconveniences such as unavailability to leave things in the limo, leaving earlier than expected, or having the same chauffeur or car upon return.
Ask your service provider if they offer a package to accommodate your needs.
If I rent a limousine, when do my rental charges start?
This varies by company and location. Most companies begin rental charges at your designated pickup time and location if it is within their stated range. If you say, "Our first pickup is at 6pm at 123 Main St', then this will be the beginning of your rental charge. Some companies begin rental charges on portal-to-portal basis and charge 'travel-time'.
Specifically, your rental time may begin the moment the limousine begins its journey to your first pickup location. Ask your limousine company specifically how they charge as this might explain price differences. Charges for travel time are usual in remote areas where the closest limousine service may be many miles away.
Wedding rental tips.
Wedding rates are commonly quoted at a 'package' price. For Instance, "Our 3 hour wedding package is $225 and includes our six-passenger limousine". Ask your limousine company what comes included in the package price. ALL or SOME of the following may be included in the price:
Standard chauffeur gratuity
Red carpet roll out
Limousine decorations, decorated after ceremony
"Just Married" sign
Tuxedoed or professionally attired chauffeur
Limo decorations and napkins
Additionally, buying a package may offer availability during peak times whereas trying to rent a limousine for 2 hours may not on Prom Weekend, for instance.
Since a limousine on your wedding day is going to be seen by your entire circle of family and friends and recorded forever in the picture books, make absolutely sure that you know what you are getting. This is not the time to find the cheapest price!
In the last decade, "Limo" busses have come to the market and were introduced for the party segment. These vehicles have a very wide range of quality, some are $125,000.00 gems, and some are converted airport busses with 300k miles! Regardless, most are now courting the Wedding segment and even though they don't provide a "formal" exterior presentation, if you simply want to move a lot a people, these can serve your need. Considerations for a party bus might be whether you want a bus showcased in front of the church during your wedding, the informal "party" stigma and presentation, and it's place in your photography.
General advice on picking a limousine service and the mistakes not to make!
When booking a limousine, always make sure you know exactly what you are getting. In any competitive market, varying prices between providers usually means a significant difference in either the product, a company's overhead, service levels, insurance coverage, or any combination. In essence, you usually "get what you pay and ask for."
Simply being told an "10-passenger limousine" is not enough. Many small companies utilize earlier model high mileage limousines. This may work for you and generally can land you a better price, however, we suggest that you ask many questions like mileage, condition, color, company policies, insurance, etc. If in doubt, ask for current pictures or better yet, see the car in person if you can not check a companies reviews. The price is usually relevant to what you are getting! There are currently numerous body styles on the market in many colors! Make sure you know what you are getting!
If you are looking for a wedding limousine for only 1 hour, you will have to do some searching and probably without luck. Most successful companies simply will not do it because of high cost considerations, vehicle prep time, and driver salaries. Keep other considerations in mind such as a late ceremony ending, pictures with the vehicle, etc. that will lead to costly overtime ! Look for packages!
Many companies will also require a cash deposit or credit card guarantee to hold your reservation. This deposit is usually lost if you cancel your reservation in an untimely manner. Ask your service what their cancellation policy is for your booking and get it in writing!
Check Online Reviews. In today's e-world, an online reputation can be established and checked with little effort. Companies that are concerned about their online reputation are the ones that you want to do business with! Look for companies that respond with concern to negative reviews.
Lastly, it is important to ask your provider questions about how they do business to make sure that you are dealing with a professional and legitimate organization. Here are some queries that we may suggest:
1) What is the chauffeur uniform policy for your event?
2) What are the company's office hours and how can they be reached after hours in the event of a last minute change, etc.?
3) Can they provide references relevant to your event?
4) What type of organization are you dealing with? The limousine industry is lightly or NOT regulated in some states and counties, and in some cases, your "limousine company" is simply an unregistered individual with a vehicle. Are they un-incorporated or an established corporation? Do they have a vendor's license? Commercial Insurance? Business Sense?
5) Make sure you ask your service provider questions about the car that are relevant to the event. For instance in an August wedding you may want to verify that the limousine’s air conditioning is properly working or that you will get a white car if this is what you are expecting.
DO NOT MAKE THESE MISTAKES!
Make absolutely sure to verify that the service provider is properly LICENSED and INSURED COMMERCIALLY. Here is the USDOT site to verify that they are registered and legally authorized to operate.
Here are the three things to verify to assure that your operator is a legitimate commercial limousine operator in Ohio and that your charter will go smoothly and safely.
1) Ask your provider if they OWN the limousine or if it is being chartered on behalf of someone else. If they are not the owners but rather a broker or friend, MOVE ON. There are too many assurances that you would have to verify to make sure that it is being properly chartered.
2) By law, any limousine in Ohio must have MINIMUM commercial insurance coverage of $1.5 million. (More for larger limousines or party buses) Without this, an operator cannot get proper livery or commercial licensing in Ohio. Insurance that is not designed for commercial vehicles or Heaven forbid no commercial insurance at all could leave you and your guests in deep trouble in the event of an accident. Do not be afraid to ask your limousine service to fax you proof of commercial insurance coverage or present it upon pickup and do not be afraid to ask HOW MUCH liability coverage is provided for your charter. If your operator cannot provide proof of proper levels of COMMERCIAL insurance, DO NOT RENT!
3) Make sure your operator uses a charter contract or charter agreement with confirmation of your rental. A legitimate limousine operator must keep records and collect and submit sales tax in the state of Ohio. This tax must be listed separately on your charter agreement and cannot be "included" in the price. If you are not presented with a proper charter agreement upon pickup, you are not dealing with a legitimate operator.
That's everything! No need to be scared if you do your diligence! Start shopping around and have fun! Limousines are no longer considered only for the rich and famous! They are a safe and economical way for groups to celebrate any event or enjoy a night out with a guaranteed safe return home for you and your guests!