When and where did it all begin ?
You may ask yourself how it ever came about in the first place. Well it all started off in the 1700's with the first chauffeur driven vehicles in France. These were actually horse drawn carriages for the rich, beautifully designed and often laced with real gold, pulled by only the finest horses. The actual word "limousines" is derived from the word "Limoges" which is the French province where it all started. The one thing that made limousines different from other carriages at that time was that the driver was in a completely separate compartment from his passengers. In 1902 the first automobile limousine appeared where the driver sat outside under a covered compartment, remaining true to the original origins and definition of the word "limousine".
The first actual stretch limousine was created over eighty years ago in Arkansas around 1928. These limousines were often referred to as “big band buses” because they were mainly used to transport famous big band leaders, their orchestras and their instruments around the United States. Then in the 1930’s limo hire really started to progress as limousines were used to transport guests of hotels to the airport and on different sightseeing tours, and so the name “Airporter Stretch Coach” was born. Needless to say, the movie industry soon caught the bug where they used limousines to carry film crew around movie sets. But, more importantly, they became an absolute "must" for the top movie actors and actresses where they had to be seen to arrive in stretch limousines, creating a mystique of glitz and glamour that they retain to this very day.
In recent years the addition of new technologies and different types of vehicles available to stretch has led to a phenominal rise in the “new style” limos. You'll now see everything from stretched Lincoln Town Car and "Baby Bentley" Chrysler 300 limos through to the larger 4x4 limousines such as the Audi Q7 and Hummer limos. They're perfect for transporting large numbers of people in style to every possible event you can think of. School proms, weddings, and birthdays are among the most popular but you'll see plenty of limos on other special occasions such as Royal Ascot, Christmas parties and corporate days. At weekends virtually every city in the UK hosts limos running around full of fun loving people who are on stag nights, hen nights, rock concerts and theatre trips.
You'll need to plan your event properly !
If you're considering limo hire for the first time here are a few tips which may help you. Firstly, just searching for cheap limousines is not always the answer. If you take a little time to research the market you'll get a better understanding of what’s actually out there. You can do it all on the internet so it won't take long, coupled with the fact that it's a lot more fun than work or study research, to say the least. Think of all those great vehicles you'll be looking at ! If you get different prices and options you'll get a better idea of what you can expect to pay before you hire a limo. This will also give you a good feel for the market so you can make an informed decision about the different limo hire prices you'll encounter.
Then you'll need to be sure that the size of your party matches some of the different types of stretch limos available. Typically those companies that are licensed to carry a maximum of eight passengers operate the Lincoln Town Car, Chrysler 300 “Baby Bentley” and smaller H3 Hummer limos. After that there are the twelve to sixteen seaters such as the Lincoln Navigator, Ford Expedition and larger H2 Hummer limos. These cost quite a bit more to hire so you either need to stick to eight, or get your numbers up to between twelve and sixteen to fill one of the bigger vehicles, thereby spreading the higher cost among more people.
Once you’re ready to choose a limo hire operator you need to establish a few important facts. Firstly you need to be sure that he is properly licensed which should ensure that he can provide a satisfactory service. In other words his licensing authority will be monitoring his vehicles to see that they are properly serviced, maintained and MOT'd. His licensing authority will also insist that his drivers are licensed and CRB checked and that his bookings are solid. Evidence that he is licensed should be clearly displayed on his website, including his limo operator’s licence number.
Then before you actually pay any sort of deposit you need to be very confident about the limo you're hiring. In other words you should be getting what you've been sold on the operator's website. Good companies only display what they're actually hiring out to you. It's also worth taking a quick glance at their terms & conditions, particularly the rules concerning damage or over-runs on time. A good set of terms & conditions will be easy to find on a website and should reflect a fair agreement for all parties. That way it broadly protects both the interests of the consumer and the limo operator, covering most obvious eventualities, liabilities and responsibilities.
If you consider exactly what you want and plan things out carefully you can often get great value for money. Firstly you need to bear in mind that the main operator cost is actually supplying you with a state-of-the-art American stretch limo in the first place, coupled with the chauffeur costs attributed to that afternoon or evening. So if you were to ask him to travel into a city, for example, that wouldn’t cost him much more than running you around locally but that cost to you of transporting, say, eight people door to door to a city and back would be incorporated within the cost of the hire so it would effectively be free. This can typically be at least fifty percent of the value of the limo hire so there's a great opportunity here.
Another brilliant example of getting value for money is weddings. Say you hire a limo for the bride on your wedding day, then if the journey to the church is a short one you can request a second or third run for the bridesmaids, or even the groom and ushers from their pub first ! That way you only need to hire one vehicle where a lot more people are being transported to the church and joining in the fun beforehand, finishing up with some great memories on the day. Obviously they may need a bit of help from friends or relatives getting to the reception as the limo is normally reserved for the bride and groom after the ceremony.
The most important thing, though, is that you're getting a great service. This means getting a great limo with a good chauffeur who's friendly, as well as professional. Last, but not least, you should get the feeling that your operator really cares about your job and that he's not just offering you cheap limo hire but great limo hire. After all it's usually a very special day in people's lives so it's important to get it right. That way you'll be coming back for more - any excuse will do !
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