MAN Truck & Bus
It's big, it's long – and it looks extremely attractive. The NEOPLAN Skyliner is a real eye-catcher at the Meering Touringcars coach park: At four metres high and 14 metres long, it easily eclipses all the company's other touring coaches. "We decided in 2018 to extend our fleet with a double-decker", confirms Cor Meering, who manages operations together with his sister and two brothers. "It quickly became clear that it should be a Skyliner. Ultimately, we have relied on NEOPLAN vehicles for over 50 years, because the brand reflects exactly the same quality and design aspects that we represent as the company Meering Touringcars."
Meering Touringcars is one of the leading providers in the coach travel market in the Netherlands. It all started in 1935 with just one bus. "My grandfather used it to bring farmers from around Amsterdam to the market in the city", relates Meering. "And naturally also their goods – from a sack of potatoes to a cheese wheel." Trips abroad extended the company's radius in the 1950s. Thousands of Dutch people travelled throughout Europe on board Meering coaches. Since the 1960s, the customer base has also included foreign tourists wishing to explore the Netherlands and other European destinations in a comfortable and safe manner. Meering is equally active in local transport: schools and clubs, families, businesses and public institutions from the Amsterdam region use the company's services
Cor Meering puts the long history of success down to their consistent business model: "We are concentrating on our core business, safe and comfortable passenger transport", says the 47-year-old. "We tailor this offering exactly to the needs of different target groups. This is possible because we have staff who are technically competent and know how to provide guests from various milieus and cultures with a good travel experience. And because we have a fleet with which we can respond flexibly to different needs." What this means in practice is demonstrated during a tour of the company premises on the outskirts of Amsterdam: over 40 buses in various sizes and designs depart from here into the world. Everything is included, from the luxurious coach, the double decker and the sturdy school bus to the minivan. The fleet also includes several Cityliners and Tourliners and various other MAN models. The new flagship NEOPLAN Skyliner has been in use since October 2018.
Best views From the upper deck, travellers enjoy free views of the countryside, but also of one of the monitors. © Bertie Willemsen
This luxury coach is the first and so far the only one of its kind in the Netherlands. Such a première is nothing new for Meering touring cars. The Amsterdam company imported the first Cityliner into the country in 2008 and the first Tourliner in 2017. No wonder that the company is seen as a pioneer and trailblazer for new ideas in the sector. Meering demonstrates his claim to be exclusive and always up-to-date by purchasing vehicles as yet unknown in the local market. "This creates a real USP", he says. "Our buses on the road are also our most important advertising. The more extraordinary a vehicle looks, the more interest it generates." The company underpins this eye-catching effect with strong branding: every Meering bus sports a red and white striped pattern with a high recognition value. Cor Meering was even able to establish that this strategy works on his most recent business trip to Taiwan: "From my contacts there I heard several times: “Meering? You're the ones with the chic logo and the luxurious buses.'"
Making potential customers aware of you, and keeping them loyal in the long term with high quality, is more important than ever nowadays – especially since coach tours have been booming for years. Because the competition and passenger expectations have also increased in line with passenger volumes. In addition to comfort and safety, the media equipment in a vehicle is important to them. Can I easily surf the internet? How well suited is the bus for a business meeting where presentations are to be shown? Can a notebook be connected throughout? "Such questions are now standard in many of our customer meetings", states Cor Meering, who is also on the Board of Directors of Royal Dutch Transport, the Dutch umbrella organisation for professional road and rail freight transport. The awareness of sustainability while travelling has also increased. Fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and energy efficiency are aspects in which customers are more keenly interested now than a few years ago. Public bodies, in particular, increasingly make placing an order dependent on good environmental values. But even private clients no longer want to book a 54-seater if only ten passengers are travelling – or conversely to have use two buses just because the group is a little larger.
An extraordinary vehicle is our best advertisement.
The red and white striped pattern creates a high recognition value.
The new NEOPLAN Skyliner is the flagship of the fleet.
The exclusive interior offers comfort and the latest technology.
The Skyliner means that Meering Touringcars is even better positioned to meet all these challenges. "With 86 seats, the space alone immediately makes us the potential partner for large tour groups. We could not have served them with our existing fleet", relates Cor Meering as he opens the door of the double decker. Almost soundlessly it glides to the side. A little later, as driver Bert Bos turns the ignition key, the engine hums quietly and the huge vehicle almost floats from the parking lot.
The high-quality impression is underpinned by the interior, which NEOPLAN has customised exactly to Meering's requirements. The interior appears spacious and offers plenty of legroom and freedom of movement, despite the numerous seats. Each seat is equipped with a USB port and power connection; the indirect lighting can be variably adjusted. All travellers have a clear view of the monitors on which entertainment programmes can be shown equally as well as a PowerPoint presentation. The Skyliner windows offer panoramic views of the countryside and let a lot of light into the interior.
Driver Bert Bos also considers his workstation in the Skyliner to be excellent. "Everything is very well organised here in the cockpit; all of the controls are at my fingertips. I believe this is simply the best bus," he declares. He did not find it difficult to adapt to the new model, even if the enormous dimensions and a few technical features did take a little getting used to at first. "But there was a detailed introduction by the manufacturer MAN where all the questions were actually answered."
Service aspects like driver training and after-sales service are among the reasons that Meering Touringcars has repeatedly decided on NEOPLAN products for over 50 years. "We place great value on long-term business relations, because the better a partner knows us, the more accurately they can meet our requirements," states Cor Meering. This is evidenced not only by the customised Skyliner, but also by the other NEOPLAN models in the Meering fleet. "Many have already been in operation for a long time, yet are optically and technically in excellent order thanks to good service", states the businessman. "That is what we also envisage with the Skyliner."