Prom Rental Guide for Parents

One of the more popular service inquiries we are receiving, as of late, is for prom limousine service. As such, we thought an informational primer for parents, guardians and anyone helping a student book a prom limo might be beneficial. Connecticut is home to some rather stringent rules and regulations – which don’t necessarily meet routine customer demands (think BIG SUV style limousines) and you will want to be familiar with local laws before allowing your attendee to make a reservation. What follows are a series of best practices and Connecticut specific explanations.

Know Exactly What is Needed:
Prior to surfing the web or calling around for price quotes, take a few minutes to gather some basic information. Things you might find helpful: How many students require prom transportation? Specific date and times? Will there be multiple pick-up locations?

Who May Provide Limousine Service?
Connecticut laws regarding limousine service are VERY straightforward when it comes to who may provide said services and under what conditions. For consumers, your tip-off will be in the license plate. In Connecticut, professionally licensed livery vehicles in Connecticut are marked with “L” license plates (the markers both start and end with the letter L) and are allowed to provide services both inside and out of Connecticut. Interstate registered vehicles sport “Z” license plates (these license plates start and end with the letter Z) and may only provide service between states (i.e. pick-up in New York and a drop-off in Connecticut or vice versa). For students attending a prom in Connecticut, with all stops/pick-ups/etc. being in Connecticut, the reservation must be made with a vehicle bearing L (aka livery) plates. The only acceptable alternative, in this geographic scenario, would be for those opting to reserve a party bus, which will be registered with bus license plates. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT allow out of state operators to tell you they can provide the services you or your child want. Out of state vehicles cannot legally come into Connecticut to provide prom services – they run the risk of being towed and ruining your student’s special night.

SUV Limos – Take Note
Should your child be clamoring for an exotic SUV limousine, know that their Connecticut prom is not the best place to make an appearance in such a vehicle. Yes, there are a few SUV limousines available to rent in Connecticut, however, they are few and far between and must conform to all aforementioned licensing requirements. We recommend that you inquire to the state of registration to prevent any prom night problems (remember, Connecticut L or bus license plates only). Limo companies in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts have a reputation for attempting to fill a void left by our strict licensing requirements. In past years, some scary looking vehicles, all registered out of state, have appeared at area proms, with many towed off. Don’t let your child become a statistic or have their evening ruined over something you know to be operating illegally.

If your child wants to attend prom with a large group, we recommend that you look into party bus service. However, remember to act early as supply is limited and demand for these limousine-style buses high.

Most Companies Will Quote Packages:
Most companies will quote packages, which typically start with a minimum 6 hours of service. Yes, the time will more likely than not include when your child is at prom. While this may seem unfair, please consider the work and time that goes into preparing the vehicle for your special event (refreshing the limo mid-evening, traveling to/from your pick-up location and the final destination). Oftentimes, the chosen limo company and professional chauffeurs spend upwards of 4 hours to prepare the vehicle for your child’s use, so service minimums are set to guarantee a break-even point.

Ask Any and All Questions:

When calling for a prom reservation, you may feel you are being interviewed. With an extensive list of questions answered, now is the time to respond with your own set of specific questions. Here are some things to ask:
• How old is the limo being offered?
• How many passengers can be accommodated?
• What is included in the package (chauffeur gratuity, sales tax, etc.)?
• Will a written contract be furnished?
• Is the company fully licensed and insured?
• Is it be possible to inspect the vehicle?

Shop Around:
For many, price is the bottom line. With a number of expenses for the evening including formal attire, hair/nails/make-up, tickets, after parties and more, prom clearly is a costly venture. You should feel free to call around and compare packages for service level offerings, however, we strongly encourage you to look beyond price – as more often than not, you get what you pay for.

Think Beyond Limousines:

Should your child be attending prom with a smaller group of classmates, consider luxury sedan service or a standard SUV. These vehicles are nice cost effective solutions, that still convey luxury, in lieu of a stretched limo service.

Supply is Limited
While it may seem that local limo companies are attempting to put a fast sell on you/your child, please know that most of the time, this is not actually the case. Instead, consider the basic premise of supply and demand. Prom season coincides with the early part of wedding season and vehicle availability can be sparse. Oftentimes, vehicles are reserved as early as January and the ensuing months become a matter of first come first served regarding reservations. In all honesty, the only way to guarantee service, is to make reservations early in the year and get everything in writing.

Things that Can Increase Cost:
If you reserved service based on a fixed rate, please know that there are a few typical circumstances can lead to additional charges including passenger drop-offs after the contracted time, pick-ups/drop-offs outside the routine service area and damage to the vehicle. Your signed and executed contract should closely outline the terms and conditions involving pricing.

Be Ready to Make a Deposit:
Most local limo services require a deposit, if not full payment, to secure a prom reservation. Cancellations are usually frowned up and result in stiff penalties. In most instances, the deposit will be applied to the quoted price.

Affiliations:
In Connecticut, look for affiliations with industry governing bodies including the National Limousine Association (NLA) or the New England Livery Association (NELA). Companies may also be members of their local chamber of commerce or Better Business Bureau.

It’s All in the Details:
Small details will often give you much insight to the workings of a local limo service. Things to expect on prom night: Purses and accompanying bags will more than likely be required to be stored in the trunk. This is to prevent any potential student access to alcohol. Please be mindful, you have contracted for a limo to provide a safe and stylish ride that will help keep your special group of students safe.

Most signed contracts will require a designated contact person. Unfortunately, the unexpected can and does happen; students act out, the limo gets damaged or there are problems at the event. The executed contract asking for a designated contact is merely a safeguard to help protect your child(ren). We believe in asking all parents/guardians of children, age 17 and under, to sign the contract and discuss all salient points with their children.

Book and Most Importantly, Enjoy:
Renting a limo is certainly a high point for any passenger. With some careful planning and due diligence, your child/student will travel in style to one of their most important life celebrations.

Should you have any specific questions relative to prom services, please feel free to drop us an email at proms@absolute-transportation.com or give us a call at 203-938-0000. It is our goal to help you navigate the complex waters of prom limousine service in Connecticut.

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