Are you planning on attending a prom this spring? Then this handy guide should be a quick read that helps you get the vehicle of your dreams reserved. Much like school, there will be some research involved – but the end result is worth the time investment. Also, some of the points we make will sound like things that adults say – and be those things you want to avoid…However, much like your parents and guardians – we like to think we know what we’re talking about – as such – please listen. Sure, there’s no consequence for not following our tips – however, we’ll end with some stories from over the years – and hopefully these will make you think twice about heeding our suggestions.
Good luck planning and enjoying one of the most special nights of your life.
Prior to Booking:
Know or Try to Determine the Following:
- The date of your prom
- The location of the event
- The time of the event
- Your budget
- How many passengers you estimate
- Where you and your friends will need pick-up (1 house, multiple houses)
- Will you need stops along the way?
- After prom, will you be heading home, to an after prom party or elsewhere?
When Calling or Looking Online For Quotes:
- Find a vehicle that at minimum matches your number of passengers – you may want to consider something bigger (we’ll explain why below)
- Determine what the price includes
- Typically, you can expect a base rate. Added on to that expect to find chauffeur gratuity (a fixed percentage of the base rate: industry standard is 15-20%), possibly a fuel surcharge and possibly sales tax (depending on the state where you are renting the limo)
- Questions to Ask (you can ask these verbatim):
- What year, make and model is the vehicle? (We are going generic on this question as you might be looking at limousines, party buses, executive vans, etc.)
- How many passengers can the vehicle accommodate?
- Are you fully licensed and insured?
- Where are you located? (this is a MUST if you live in Connecticut – we’ll explain why later)
- What does the price include?
- Are there any additional charges if we need extra time with the limo, have extra stops or incur any damages?
- Do you have hourly minimums for prom?
- Is a deposit required?
- Does the deposit get applied to the final balance?
- Would it be possible to see the vehicle prior to making a reservation?
- What forms of payment do you accept?
- Are we able to split the payment among multiple passengers, or will you accept only one source for payments?
- Will a contract and/or reservation confirmation be provided if I choose to book?
- Considering booking a vehicle slightly larger than what you need. Why? Comfort. Formal attire can be a bit awkward – having a few extra inches between passengers can make for a more enjoyable passenger experience.
- Want to sound like a pro? If you are interested in a limo, ask if the company has a 5-door model. What’s a five door limo? It’s a specialty vehicle designed specifically for formal events. Instead of 2 doors into the rear passenger compartment there are 3. The third is larger and known as the bridal door. In these limousines, at most, passengers will only have to slide half way through the back to find their seat (versus a traditional 4-door limousine where passengers might have to slide from the back up front to reach a seat).
- If you ask about the licensing and insurance, don’t be afraid to ask for their livery permit number (will be something like CT ####) or an MC number.
- Looking to save money? Consider another chauffeured vehicle (sedan or SUV). You will avoid driving but still can enjoy a night without driving.
- With regards to hourly minimums: You can expect most companies to tell you 6 consecutive hours. Industry standard.
- Do NOT book solely on price. We know it’s hard – funds may be limited – however, we firmly believe: if something sounds too good to be true – it probably is. Take the time to research your findings and make sure the company is reputable before you book. You can easily save yourself a night of frustration and potentially wasted money.
- If in Connecticut:
- You MUST hire a CT limo company. Read this primer on license plates (and don’t be afraid to ask about L & Z plates). Consequence to ignoring this tip? Your vehicle might not show (if they’re tipped off that DOT is going to be at your prom), your ride might get towed (if they bring you to prom and DOT makes a surprise appearance) or you may be asked odd questions by your chauffeur like “Would it be ok if I dropped you off at a side/back/alternative entrance?” – which is a tip-off that they are looking to avoid something or someone.
- You cannot legally rent a stretched Hummer and/or many of the popular SUV style limousines. Remember, 8 passenger max on the limos – anything bigger than that – the renting company is not being truthful with you (unless it’s a party bus)
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- Discuss EVERYTHING with your friends and parents.
- Take the limo company up on the offer to see the vehicle – you want to make sure it’s not a 1980’s special (unless of course, that is what you want)
- Make sure the date, times and locations are set.
- Be ready to supply a credit card – many limo companies require one be on file (even if you intend to pay in cash the night of the event) – so you may need the help of a parent or guardian here
- Appoint a point person to handle all interactions with the limo company.
- Make sure everyone is aware of all charges and consider requiring the money up front, before actually reserving the vehicle.
- Have a designated adult who will be available all night should there be any problems.
At the Time of Booking:
- Request a fully executed contract or confirmation of service that outlines the following:
- Vehicle reserved (including color, make, model, year and maximum number of passengers)
- Pick-up time and location
- Drop-off time and location
- All agreed upon charges
- Method of payment
- Deposit (if paid, how much and when and if this decreases the full balance)
- Know when the final payment is due
- Read the terms of service carefully – most things are routine – but you should take the time to read the information so there are no surprises.
On the Night of Your Event:
Sit back and relax! Your hard work will be appreciated by all as a luxurious limo, that fits the exact vision of your group, appears on time (or even a few minutes early) to transport you to your prom.
- Make sure the company is licensed and insured
- Check with the BBB for any complaints and how they were handled
- Ask friends and family for recommendations of local limo service providers
- If you live in Connecticut and will attend prom in state, the vehicle MUST be registered in Connecticut. Also, certain SUV limousines are not allowed to be registered in CT – don’t be a victim.
In Our Experience:
- Don’t trust the limo company that tells you “DOT inspections at prom never happen” or “sure we can provide limo services – our vehicles are registered in NY/NJ/MA (these are the common ones around here).
- Price should NEVER be the sole deciding factor in your decision making process. You want service and value – not low rates and a shoddy, unkempt vehicle.
We know better – here’s a story from 2012:
Around 10 pm one night last May, one of our dispatchers gets a call asking if we could send a limo to pick-up some students at a prom in the New Haven area. After reviewing the balance of trips for the night, we realized that yes; we could send a stretch to pick-up the stranded passengers. In this instance, it turns out; the students had rented an out-of-state Hummer (from New York State). The vehicle never showed and the parents were forced to get the students to the prom. Calls to the non-appearing limo company yielded some flimsy excuses. As it turns out, DOT was present at the prom in CT and towing out of state vehicles (our hunch? The out-of-state operator got wind of the DOT and chose to stay far far away).
The request we received as to transport 12 passengers – another tip off that this group was destined for logistical problems from the start. You simply can’t have a 12 passenger limousine in Connecticut. Our chauffeur did the right thing; he picked up the first group of eight, transported them to their final destination and returned for the remaining four. The school was extremely accommodating under the circumstances and we were fortunate enough that the drop-off point was close to the prom location. In this instance, the students booked through a popular online booking service – and paid the price. Rest assured, if you follow our hints, tips and advice, you should be able to easily avoid this same fate.
Prom is a special night that should be enjoyed from start to finish. If you choose to include a limousine in your plans, following our well-tested advice will help you celebrate your night safely and in style. Good luck!