Getting the right limo often depends on the type of occasion, number of people, number of hours you'll need and how far you're going. Most companies will need to know if this is for a wedding, concert, prom, birthday party or maybe an anniversary - and they often specialize in certain events to deliver the best possible experience. The more details you can provide, the better the value and service you'll receive.
- Consider the type of event. Typically limousine companies charge based on the type of event. Events are typically as follows: Airport Transfers, Weddings, Nights Out, Birthday Parties, City or Wine Tours, Day Trips, Concerts, A to B Transfers, Proms, Client Meetings and Special Events. Most limousine companies have special airport transfer rates and special A to B Rates. All limousine companies have hourly minimums on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Prepare the details of what you are looking for. Most companies charge by the hour, so it is important to decide how many hours you will need.
- Determine how many people will be participating before you call. This can affect what type of vehicle you can ride in. You want to make sure that you rent a limousine that's large enough to cater to all of your guests so they don't end up looking like they've been stacked inside a sushi roll.
- Decide on vehicle types. Here are all the types of vehicles available:
- Sedans (mostly Town cars but sometimes Mercedes or Specialty Sedans)
- 6 Passenger Limousine (Seats 4 comfortably)
- 8 Passenger Limousine (Seats 6 comfortably)
- 10 Passenger Limousine (Seats 8 comfortably)
- 12 Passenger Limousine (Seats 10 comfortably)
- 14-22 SUV Limousine (Typically a Navigator, Escalade, or Excursion)
- 18-20 Passenger Hummer
- Small Shuttle Bus (22-35 Passengers)
- Coach Bus (45-55 Passengers)
- Small Limo Bus (14-22 Passengers)
- Coach Limo Bus (28-35 Passengers)
- Classic Cars (Rolls Royce, etc).
- Focus on value: the best service at the best price: Not all limousine services are equal. Price should not be the only factor in your search. Much like renting a hotel, different price points often mean different service levels. It good to have a budget determined ahead of time, but also know what type of experience you want.
- Get the right ride: Often times, the right vehicle can make all the difference - a stretch Hummer for your next bachelor party or a classic antique for riding off in style from the wedding. Ensure the vehicle you're getting has the space, features and look for your next event. Try to book a vehicle that has room for at least one to two more people than are in your party. Some companies provide music (radio or satellite radio), so ask in advance or be prepared to take your iPod or a mix CD with enough music to last the whole ride. Also ask about features like the seating arrangement and luggage capacity for large group vehicles. Not sure which is the best ride for you? Check out our Limo Pricing Guide for vehicle details.
- Safety first: The most important thing to consider when booking a limo is safety for yourself and your party. Legitimate limo companies need to be registered with their state (US only), have the proper levels of insurance and be properly licensed. Never book a limo with a company that can't promptly show you their licensing and insurance credentials - don't take chances.
- Plan ahead: Think about all the details of your ride experience. Do you need ice or drinks? Do you have a preferred route for your ride? What stops would you like to make? Providing these details to your chosen limo service provider will help them meet your needs - for the right price.
- Get the whole price: Always make sure you are checking prices apples-to-apples between services. Each limousine company will generally have their own unique pricing policies. Most companies offer services priced by the hour - but may also offer flat/guaranteed rates for airport rides or sometimes all-inclusive packages. Pay attention to "add on's" like fuel surcharges or other services fees not included in the base price. FYI, it is customary to tip drivers 18-20% of the base price. Most companies automatically charge a driver tip, while some leave it to the customer to decide. Be sure you get the full price up front when weighing your options.
- Packages: A package is often the best choice for special occasions like weddings, concerts, prom, sporting events or other ride types with a predictable start and end time. Packages will generally provide a set number of hours in a vehicle that fits your party size and event for a fixed, all-inclusive price. Some companies offer packages for every type of service and most give substantial "bulk rate" price breaks.
- Reserve early - especially for big events: Start searching well before you need your limo. For wedding limos, some people book 12-18 months in advance. Other events, like proms, are best to book a limo a few months in advance. In general, it is best to start looking 3-4 weeks before your event. After you've selected the right limo service provider, get confirmation in writing. For special occasions, it's generally a good idea to contact your limo service provider a week before the event, just to ensure everything is confirmed. It is best to call 2-4 weeks in advance of the reservation. Now, do some research. Google "Vehicle Type, Your City" for example, "8-passenger limousine, San Francisco,CA." Then look at the company websites to confirm the companies have your desired vehicle. Look in the phone book and decide on an additional few companies.
- Call companies and listen to how each company deals with your phone call. On your special night, it is important that the company is responsive to your requests. Call each name on the list and get quotes from each. Be sure to ask for rates including gratuity, cancellation fees, how much for an extra hour and their TCP number (State license to be a licensed transport). Ask what the vehicles come with (alcohol, music, passes to clubs, etc.).
- Decide which company you feel will be on time, have the best vehicle and chauffeur, and has the best price. For most people, price is not as important as service, so don't automatically choose the lowest rate, you might end up with an 80's limo and a driver in jeans and a t-shirt.
- Book the vehicle with the company you choose. When booking make sure to get a copy of the contract and reservation, confirmation/reservation number, as well as their cancellation policy in writing/email. Make sure to confirm the out the door price that will be charged to your credit card.
- Call 2-4 days before your event to confirm your reservation and request the driver's cell phone number. Be sure to verify that the routing is correct and that there is a driver scheduled. Be sure to ask if they are going to farm out your run.(A "Farm-out" means that they are selling your reservation to another company at a profit). If they tell you of their intention to farm out, either tell them not to do so, or ask for details of the other company so that you can satisfy yourself of their reliability.
- Call 3 hours prior to the event, just to check in and make sure everything is fine.
- The type of event can drastically change the price of the vehicle.
- Make sure that you know the location of the limo company. Some must charge drive time if they are more than 30 minutes away.
- Head count is important, no one wants to be left to take a taxi!
- Like in most things, you get what you pay for.
- Be sure to inquire about limitations around food, drink, or smoking. This could include the availability of glasses, refrigeration, if the driver will also be the server, etc.
- Some companies provide music (radio or satellite radio), so ask in advance or be prepared to take a mix CD that has enough music to last the whole ride.
- if you're in California, check with the California Public Utility Commission at [www.cpuc.ca.gov cpuc.ca.gov]. This web site will help you check the license and standing of the limousine company (active, denied, revoked, suspended). you can check using the name of the company or the TCP number. If the company is not listed then it could be illegal.
- Remember that it is also advisable to check the limo before you book it. make an appointment to check the limo and if you are satisfied write the license plate down and get it in writing. Happy limousine hunting.
- Be sure to give an extra 10-15 minutes than needed whenever setting up detailed routing. Events always take longer than expected.
- Ask the year of the vehicle!
- Lowest price means lowest service in most cases!
Things You'll Need
- A phone, a computer and an hour or two.