Interview BBA Tours Tilburg Michael van den Broek

This interview with Michael van den Broek (MB), commercial employee at BBA Tours, is taken by Martijn van Poppel (MP) student at the NHTV in Breda. This interview took place at the 13th of June at their base in Tilburg in The Netherlands.

MP: Can you tell me, how you started in the bus and coach hire sector?

MB: That’s a good question! I studied sport and exercise, it is completely different from what I am doing now, as a commercial employee by BBA Tours. I knew the owner of BBA Tours, I got in touch with him in a skybox at Willem II, where I was working as a barkeeper. I had to rent a bus for school, and got in touch with him because I needed to cancel the reservation. Cancelling the reservation, I saw an advertisement that they were searching new people. At that moment I nog longer doubt, and started working at BBA Tours. Meanwhile I am working here for nine years now.

MP: How old were you, when you started working for BBA Tours?

MB: I was about 21-22 years old. I started working for BBA Tours at a young age.

MP: Did you worked at any other coach hire companies, before you started working at BBA Tours or in a different sector?

MB: No, I had only a few jobs on the side. I worked in the catering and worked as a substitute-driver. My job at BBA Tours, is my first serious fulltime job.

MP: Can you tell me something about the history of BBA Tours?

MB: BBA Tours descend from the public transportation in Brabant, BBA Tours is a short form for Brabantse Buurtspoorwegen en Autobusdiensten. BBA Tours was a part of the BBA, what was established by the province Brabant. BBA wanted to cut loos BBA Tours because it wasn’t profitable enough. Sometime later Annie Vrugt-Pereboom appointed a management team and BBA Tours started on their own. This happening took place about 11 years ago.

MP: Can you tell me who founded BBA?

MB: The province Brabant established BBA. BBA is combined with a few other companies. Kruff Reizen in Eindhoven, currently called Willy De Kruyff, but you also had Wim De Kruyff Reizen, this company is added to BBA. BBA made also a take-over purchase on De Mol Reizen in Boxtel and Van der Wouw in Kaatsheuvel. By these happenings got BBA that big.

MP: Who is the current owner of BBA Tours?

MB: The current owner of BBA Tours is Annie Vrugt-Pereboom.

MP: Do you know if there are any family members from Annie Vrugt-Pereboom working for BBA Tours?

MB: No, she is the only shareholder at BBA Tours. Her husband has also his own company, he is doing something completely different. He is specialised in audit checks in the touringcar sector.

MP: How many bus drivers are working for BBA Tours and how many part-timers do you have? 

MB: MB: I think we have around 60 drivers working for us at the moment. Half of them are permanent employees, both fulltime and part-time and half of them are on-call employees. Throughout the year we work with all of these drivers. When the permanent employees are on holiday, we can appeal to the on-call employees. As a result of this our business is very flexible, which is very important nowadays, because we receive many requests last-minute.

MP: What was the first vehicle that was purchased for BBA Tours?

MB: I can't recall; BBA tours is not a brand dependent business. We can buy all busses, but we mainly focus on quality and what maintenance is guaranteed. When we have problems during our trip, we want to be helped quickly. Setra and VDL are offering good service, but Mercedes is the greatest dealer and offers the best service. We’ve got Setra, VDL and Mercedes busses in our fleet. We’ve got one double deck bus from van Hool.

MP: Is quality the main concern when purchasing new buses?

MB: Quality is very important to us, it’s something we stand for and we’d like to ensure it. Service and quality are top priorities at BBA Tours. VDL is from Brabant, so keeping in touch might be a little easier there, but our contact with Mercedes is also fine. We happen to have received a bus from both companies recently.

MP: You just mentioned the double-decker, can you tell us some more about it?

MB: Yeah, right, we have a double-decker by Van Hool in our fleet. At the end of the year we’ll get a double-decker from Setra, but this one will be for testing. This is to make a comparison between these two brands so we can decide which type of double-decker suits us best.

MP: Are the tours / trips BBA Tours arranges mainly focused on large or small groups?

MB: That varies: we have access to minibuses as well as double-deckers. We have every kind and every size of bus. Which bus we use depends on the preference of the customer. We will always look for the bus that suits the job best; when it concerns a small group we're not going out with a double-decker. We try to use all means as efficiently as possible. We think along with our customer and show our flexibility again.

MP:  What kind of tours / trips are we talking about?

MB: This can also vary from being a ride to a festival to one for a football club or even for a seniors association with things like a snack, drink and tour included.

MP: Do you also arrange trips abroad?

MB: No, unless the customer asks off course. We do have our own daytrip programs, for example: a day in Paris, London or the Christmas markets in Germany.

We offer these trips regularly. These are all one day trips. When people want to travel several days with an overnight stay, the customers has to request this. We can not compete with Oad or Kras.

MP: Do you get assignments especially from Dutch organisations or also from clients in foreign countries?

MB: We’ve got the most assignments from Dutch organisations. I think 90-95% percent are Dutch consumers. We’ve got some cooperation’s with foreign tour operators who are organizing European trips, or need airport transfers.

MP: From which countries do you get these assignments?

MB: Belgian firms knows how to find us, because we are close to the Belgian border. The tour operators are especially from England, Italy and Spain.

MP: Can you tell something about the bus drivers who are working for BBA Tours?

MB: You can write stories about bus drivers! We’ve got a lot of different types of bus drivers. We’ve got bus drivers who are specialised in driving long distances but we also got bus drivers who are great in driving daytrips. BBA Tours has also drivers available for driving shuttles to the airport. The most of our bus drivers are all-rounders, this is a big advantage, because it makes us flexible in our supply of bus drivers.

MP: Of course you want to be different from other companies, are you making this difference through the type of bus driver who is working for BBA Tours?

MB: Sure, we’ve got a few customers who has their own bus driver. We are driving for Willem II, PSV and RKC Waalwijk, we are offering them their own driver, this creates a close bond. We’ve got some regular customers, which have their own pool of drivers, every time they have an assignment for us, they can choose from these bus drivers. This creates flexibility for both sides.

MP: Which languages do your drivers speak?

MB: Our bus drivers speak different languages. Most of our bus drivers speaks English and German and of course Dutch. Some of our drivers also speaks Spanish.

MP: What are the most driven daytrips for your firm?

MB: This is very different each season. We’ve got the period with the ‘Huishoudbeurs’, the ‘Libelle zomerweek’ and the ‘Margriet Winterfair’. We’ve got also a huge supply of daytrips to the Christmas markets in Germany for example to: Aken, Dortmund and Düsseldorf. We got a wide range of different trips, so it is very hard to tell which one is most popular.

MP: Are you focussed on the daytrips or also on the extended tours?

MB: We are focussed on coach hires for daytrips. For the extended tours you have to go to Oad, Kras or Sunweb, they are offering complete trips. You also need a certificate for organizing extended tours.

MP: What are you doing in the area of promotion?

MB: We’ve spend quite some money in door-to-door advertisements, but the return wasn’t that high. In 2015 we started with Facebook advertising, we noticed that this was seen by a lot people. Driving for the professional football clubs PSV, Willem II and RKC Waalwijk, supplies us with a lot of promotion. We are promoting BBA Tours by advertising on led-boarding. We are getting name through the promotional contracts with study associations in Tilburg.