Interview bus and coach hire company Van Mook - Astrid de Jong

This interview with Astrid de Jong, owner of Van Mook Touringcars is taken by Martijn van Poppel student at the NHTV in Breda. This interview took place at the 30th of May at their establishment in Oosterhout (near Breda) in the Netherlands.

MP: Can you tell me, how you started in the Touringcar sector?

AJ: How I started in the touringcar sector? Actually I was born in this sector, Van Mook Touringcars is a family company. We started just after the war, you can compare it with the Shell Pernis workers. That time we had a small truck with wooden benches, were people were working with. That is how we started, and nowadays it is called a Touringcar company.

Coach and bus hire operator mrs. Astrid de Jong from Van Mook

In the picture Mrs. Astrid de Jong owner Van Mook Coaches from Oosterhout Photo credit: Martijn van Poppel
MP: This coach hire company was started directly after the war?

AJ: Yes, correct, we started with Van Mook directly after war. At the beginning we were small scaled, but year after year we grew bigger and bigger and we developed our company.

MP: Did you worked at any other businesses or in an another sector?

AJ: Yes, I did work at other companies when I was young, but it wasn’t in the bus and coach hire sector.

MP: Can you tell me something more about the history of Van Mook Touringcars?

AJ: Yes, sure, we started small but we had to grow. The seating got better, there came music in the busses and we got televisions in our busses with a video player. We were developing to make the busses luxurious and more comfortable. At the moment we have a luxurious motor coach provided with a toilet, an air-conditioning system, a television, music and of course comfortable seats. I think this is a big difference with when we started.

MP: Who started this company?

AJ: My grandfather started Van Mook Touringcars. Van Mook Touringcars is a family company and we want to keep it a family company.

MP: Are you currently the owner of Van Mook Touringcars?

AJ: Yes, I am the owner of Van Mook Coaches at the moment.

MP: Are there more family members working for this company at the moment?

AJ: No, currently there aren’t any family members working for this company except for me. I am still the only one working for Van Mook Touringcars from our family.

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

AJ: At the moment we have 9 bus drivers in duty. When the summer is coming we have an another 9 bus drivers working part-time.

MP: Van Mook Touringcars has a nice fleet, but what was the first vehicle Van Mook Touringcars purchased?

AJ: That was a small truck, I don’t remember the brand of the truck, but I thought it was a Hanemach, what is was called that time.

Two large Van Mook coaches with astrid in the back

White coaches with logo in the Van Mook Garage with back Astrid de Jong. Photo credit: Martijn Van Poppel

MP: Was the second vehicle from the same brand, or did Van Mook Touringcars made a change in their supply?

AJ: It took a long time before we bought our second bus. Our second vehicle was an Bova, currently this brand is called VDL.

MP: How many busses does Van Mook Touringcars has to their possession?

AJ: We own 13 busses. We have double deck busses but also normal busses, with these busses we can transport about 750 people.

MP: When you’re buying new busses, did you prefer a special brand?

AJ: Yes, we are loyal to Van Hool in Belgium. We are loyal to this brand because they are offering top quality double deck busses. We own double deck busses but also normal busses, but we prefer the double deck busses. When we are buying new busses for the company our preference still goes to Van Hool in Belgium.

MP: Can you tell me something about the type of customers Van Mook Touringcars deals with?

AJ: We have a wide ranged target group. Our type of customer is everyone who likes to travel with a touringcar bus. Small groups, Big groups, older people or younger people it doesn’t matter. This weekend we are driving for events, but on weekdays we drive for schools or older people. We also organize workweeks for schools. We arrange trips in the Netherland but also in foreign countries, it depends on the wishes of our customer.

MP: The assignments for Van Mook Touringcars are they from Dutch organisation, or also from foreign countries?

AJ: Our assignments are especially from Dutch organisations. Sometimes we get an assignment from a foreign country, most of the times these assignments are from Belgium or Germany. 

MP: What kind of bus drivers are working for your company?

AJ: There is a difference in our bus drivers. We have bus drivers who only can drive to a destination and back for example to Spain and back to the Netherlands. We also have bus drivers who goes on a 10-day trip with a school, and our drivers arrange the whole trip.

MP: How are you different from other touringcar companies?

AJ: I think we are different from other companies because our bus drivers arrange the whole trip. We’ve got everything under one roof, so all of our assignments are quickly arranged. The wishes of our customer, are directly told to our bus drivers, so they know exactly what to do during the trip.

MP: Which languages does your drivers master?

AJ: Our bus drivers have control of the following languages: English, German and French. Some of our bus drivers speaks a little bit of Spanish, because the come a lot in Spain with bus trips.

MP: What is the most popular daytrip from your firm?

AJ: That is a hard question, we have a wide range of products for example daytrips, group trips, workweeks and school trips. I am not 100% sure but I think the Huishoudbeurs and the Libelle Beurs are the most popular at the moment. These trips are organised by our organisation, and we noticed they are very famous. We organise a lot of daytrips but we perceive that the longer trips are more favoured.

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

AJ: We are represented in the Dutch telephone directory. We are using Google Adwors, by working with this tool we are improving our position in Google. We are promoting in regional newspapers to get noticed by the older people. To get more noticed by the younger people we are using Facebook to get in touch with them. We also have a website, were you can find more information about are organisation, but you also can find some special deals.

MP: Are you active on multiple social media channels?

AJ: Currently Facebook is the only social media channel were we are active. We want to expand, but noticed that Facebook is enough promotion for us at the moment.

MP: How are you different from the completion you are dealing with?

AJ: We are different from other organisation by offering much different trips. But I think the most important aspect of our organisation is that the connection between customer and our organisation very tight is.

MP: Does Van Mook Touringcars does something special for their customers?

AJ: Yes, every year we are organising a daytrip for the customer who booked that year at Van Mook. By organising this trip, we thank them for having trust in Van Mook.