By Clayton Moore
When it comes to navigating the premiere tourist destination of Scottsdale, a taxi just won’t do for some passengers. As one of the most upmarket resort areas in the western United States, the city attracts movie stars, moguls and other celebrities, who are more worried about whether the champagne is chilled than trying to save a few bucks.
For that customer, it’s Transtyle to the rescue. This high-end executive transportation company, based at Scottsdale Municipal Airport (SDL), has cornered the market on transporting prosperous guests to and from some of the world’s most exclusive resorts. In the process, it’s become the top-ranked limousine service in Arizona.
“We’re providing transportation services at the highest possible level,” explained Chris Groepler, the company’s director of operations. “We’re not a taxi company, and we’re not just taking people from point A to point B. We do our very best to accommodate every request that’s made of us.”
Fred Sadeghi founded Transtyle shortly after he came to Arizona in May 1990. He had a little over $100 to his name and immediately lost $50 of it to a cab driver who overcharged him for a ride. After learning the trade himself, while working for a local taxi firm, he founded Transtyle with a half-dozen Lincoln Town Cars.
Today, the transportation company has more than 200 cars in its fleet, all far more glamorous than Sadeghi’s originals. Among the cars chauffeuring guests are Chrysler 300s, Mercedes S500s, the very latest iterations of the Lincoln Town Car and even more exotic rides like the BWM X5 sports utility vehicle and a sleek, limited edition Jaguar XJ8. Transtyle provides larger groups with access to 14-passenger vans, minibuses and more exclusive vehicles, like a Hummer stretch limousine.
With hundreds of thousands of visitors drawn to Scottsdale each year, competition for business can be fierce, but Transtyle has managed to stave off upstart companies by continuing to provide the best, most reliable service in the city.
“The sky’s the limit out here,” Groepler said. “A few competing companies pop up from time to time, but they have a tough time competing, because we’re so rooted in this business community. Our reputation speaks for itself. We have the market cornered, as far as the big resorts and hotels.”
Transtyle services all the big names in the resort industry through its partnerships in Arizona, which include the majority of the Marriott and Hilton Family Hotels and Resorts. It also services elite destinations, like the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort and the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, an exclusive hotel and meeting facility that has garnered a host of awards from publications like Condé Nast and Travel + Leisure.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Groepler observed of the growing resort industry in Scottsdale. “They’re building on and adding rooms all the time. Scottsdale is definitely more of a national destination than some people realize. A lot of companies have their annual meetings here, which means bringing all of their staff here and booking entire hotels. They have to hold their meetings somewhere, and Scottsdale has all the amenities to serve them.”
Much of Transtyle’s business comes from private jets that land at Scottsdale’s two airports, as well as from Landmark Aviation, the largest charter jet service in the state.
With all those cars in place, the next ingredient in Transtyle’s successful business model is its drivers. More than 200 private chauffeurs work for the company as independent contractors.
“Drivers are the most essential facet of our business, because they’re the daily face of our company,” Groepler said. “These men and women provide the first and last experience visitors have when they come to these resorts and hotels.”
Transtyle hires experienced drivers, but also trains them in customer service and the minutia of Scottsdale’s hospitality industry.
“Every account has different rules and specific needs,” Groepler said. “For example, the Sanctuary is one of the top-rated resorts in the country; its clientele are very high caliber, and we have a lot of specifics on billing for that location.”
To service movie stars and other A-list celebrities, Transtyle assigns its most experienced and dedicated drivers to a “VIP List,” a selection of chauffeurs on call for the most exclusive clientele at a given resort.
“Only a very select few of our 200 drivers make the VIP list,” Groepler said. “At that level, we’re not just taking people to and from a resort. We’re really a partner with the hotel, and the drivers are an extension of that experience. They know everything about the resort, from the types of restaurants to the number of rooms available.”
To control the potential chaos of maneuvering hundreds of vehicles around a city that’s home to more than 70 resorts and hotels, Transtyle relies on a sophisticated system of communications and vehicle tracking, built specifically for the company by software manufacturer Tranware. Three shifts of two dispatchers each manage the Transtyle fleet, 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. A bank of phone reservationists is also available to arrange transportation and service group sales. Drivers communicate on a single-group talk channel, using Nextel radios.
At the vehicle level, each limousine is equipped with a GPS system that maps in real time, not only for dispatchers at Transtyle, but also for hotel concierges and sales managers who need to track their guests. That system is combined with an Internet-based reservation system that allows observation of a fare from beginning to end.
“It gives us better control of the current matrix at the office, but our accounts use it as well,” Groepler said. “Anyone with an account can go on the Internet and make, modify or monitor reservations. If one of our accounts is online, they can literally watch the screen and know when the driver is assigned, when the driver has loaded their guests and when those guests are dropped off. It’s a huge sales tool and helps administrators at the resorts better service their clients.”
Services at Transtyle sometimes surpass vehicular transport and take guests into the sky. For those select clients, the company has worked with partners to provide private aircraft to fly over the Grand Canyon or admire Scottsdale from the air. It’s a service particularly popular with site inspectors, advance team members who come to Scottsdale to select hotel sites for conventions.
“We try to provide one-stop shopping, just like what you’d get from a good concierge at a fine hotel,” Groepler said. “You tell them whatever you need, and they provide it for you. We provide the same level of service when it comes to transportation options. We don’t do things like dinner reservations, but if you want a trip up to Sedona or to tour Phoenix in a small plane, we’ll set it up.”
Word of mouth, passed from guest to guest over the years, has built the company’s reputation.
“We’ve never done a lot of marketing or advertising,” Groepler said. “This is a business based around referrals. It’s easy to land an account, but it’s very difficult to keep one. We rely on our attention to detail and the personal touch involved in building relationships. The key is to under-promise and over-deliver.”
This year alone, Transtyle aims to build its fleet to more than 300 vehicles and expand its services to the west side of the city.
“We want to keep growing,” Groepler said. “We’re using our GPS and online reservation system to streamline our business. We want to keep landing accounts and keep everybody moving. Our goal is to be on time, every time.”
For more information about Transtyle’s transportation services, visit [http://www.transtyle.com].