Mimi Vielhauer works at Express Transportation Inc. in Orlando, Fla. The company has 16 state-of-the-art coaches based in Orlando that travel across the U.S. and into Canada. Vielhauer is also chairperson of the Travel, Tour & Charter Committee for ABA’s Women in Buses Council. She and her husband, Dave, have two children.
Q: How did you get your start in the motorcoach travel and tourism industry?
Mimi Vielhauer: I got my start in the travel industry working at a travel agency during my college summer breaks (University of Cincinnati—go Bearcats!). After college, I worked within the hotel sector. I then switched to the tour operator side of the industry and found that I liked the hotels better—so back I went. I worked my way up to regional manager with nine hotels under my belt. I was on the road for up to 28 weeks a year and had a chance to see so much of the world. After 20 years of hotels, I decided it was time for a change and to learn the motorcoach business. I have now been in the motorcoach industry for over 10 years, and I love it.
Q. What does Express Transportation offer to the community that is unique?
MV: I believe in giving back. Express Transportation is a business partner with Osceola County schools. We collect canned goods for Osceola’s Food Angels, which is an organization that feeds the homeless students in Osceola County (there are approximately 3,400 students living in cars, hotels, or in the woods). We recently participated in Orlando Cares, which put together meals for the hurricane victims.
Q. Describe your leadership philosophy.
MV: Treat people how you want to be treated. Don’t micromanage. If you need to micromanage, then you have not hired the right people. You cannot make every square fit into a round hole, so understand some people have different ways of doing things that can still be a huge success.
Q. What advice do you have for someone just starting out in the motorcoach travel and tourism industry?
MV: Understand that things change. Don’t be afraid to ask us old folks what we have learned—we’ve been there. Remember, most of us started out before computers. I still remember when customers needed a contract “as soon as possible,” and they knew that it would take a few days to get there by mail, not the few minutes people expect now. Also, don’t forget to take time for yourself and realize that some days you can’t do it alone.
Q. Why did you get involved in ABA’s Women in Buses?
MV: ABA’s WIB is a fabulous organization. It is a great place to network and learn. The webinars offer great ideas and discussions. I can always get help and answers from a member. I first got involved by attending the webinars, and then I attended the in-person meetings and knew I wanted to get more involved. Currently, I am the chair for the Tour, Travel and Charter Committee and look forward to many more years serving and helping.
Q. What motorcoach travel and tourism industry issue would you most like to see resolved, and why?
MV: I think most people think a motorcoach operator’s newest bus is their best bus; however, the newest bus may not be the best. Ask me, “What is your favorite coach for my group?” and you may find out that we just refurbished the interior of an older bus or the driver assigned to that bus may be the perfect fit for your group. Also, customers need to know that while they need their quote as soon as possible, so does everyone else. They can help expedite the process by sending us their itineraries ahead of time so we can make sure each day is legal for the drivers.
You are invited to join Mimi and the members of the Women in Buses Council at their winter meeting on Jan. 27 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. in Charlotte during ABA's Annual Meeting & Marketplace.