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Bethel Church seamlessly overcomes last-minute scheduling changes to send 2,000 students across the globe

The challenge

Every April, the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry sends more than 2,000 students out on Short-Term Missions all over the world. As a non-profit organization, Bethel Church needed a more cost-effective, easy-to-manage way of busing hundreds of students to and from major California airports.

The solution

Bus.com stepped in as Bethel’s a single point of contact for airport transfer logistics — supplying buses, taking care of scheduling, and arranging on-site meet-and-greet. What’s more, Bus.com’s bespoke technology platform and industry knowledge enabled it to cut costs by 40% per bus.

The results

Despite facing immense, last-minute scheduling changes, Bus.com has helped Bethel Church coordinate two highly-successful Short-Term Mission events. And with Bus.com providing proactive optimization suggestions, next year’s trips are set to be the most streamlined and cost-effective yet.

Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry students board a coach bus.

Highlights

  • Cut bus costs by 40% compared to previous provider
  • Successfully overhauled 100-bus schedule less than three weeks out from the event
  • Proactive suggestions drive further time and cost savings

One bus per hour for 48 hours

Based in Redding, CA, Bethel Church is a global, non-denominational Christian movement with a congregation of more than 10,000 people. And as part of its ongoing goal of sharing its teachings around the world, the Church runs the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry – a college in Redding that focuses on training students in ministry. 

One of the most important events of the Bethel School calendar is the annual Short-Term Missions initiative. Every April, all 2,000+ students go out on week-long missions to communities across the globe, with roughly 80 groups visiting 50 different countries. Coordinating transport for the event is a massive undertaking: a large number of students fly out to their destinations, and the first hurdle is getting them to the airports.

Students from the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in South Africa.

As a non-profit organization, Bethel always keeps a close eye on its budget and aims to make every cent count, but it found that rates kept going up with its existing bus provider. To make matters worse, managing the buses was a logistical nightmare that prevented the Short-Term Missions team from focusing on its other priorities. 

Ben Marsh continues: “When I joined the team, one of my first tasks was to reevaluate our bus strategy. I quickly came to the conclusion that we needed a new provider that could offer better prices and easier management.”

Lower rates, better service

Bethel had three main criteria for its new bus provider: cost effectiveness, logistical expertise, and customer service. The Church initially struggled to find a company that could meet all three requirements. While several providers seemed capable of handling the logistical work, none offered the level of customer service that Bethel was looking for – that is, until it discovered Bus.com.

“2018 was our first year using Bus.com, and it was beautiful,” says Ben Marsh. “Communication by email and phone was excellent. They’d call me just to check in, and they even came out to meet me in person. That kind of proactive customer service is the secret sauce of Bus.com.”

For the last two Short-Term Missions events, Bus.com has taken care of all of Bethel’s stateside airport transfer needs. In addition to scheduling and supplying approximately 50 minibuses and coaches for both the outward and return journeys, Bus.com also set up operations teams at both airports for meet-and-greet and to handle any last-minute complications. 

With so many vehicles involved in the event, it’s always necessary to source buses from a number of different operators – but with Bus.com, Bethel was able to manage everything through a single point of contact. Additionally, Bus.com’s extensive industry expertise and dedicated technology platform ensured that Bethel got the best possible prices.

“We saved about 40% per bus compared to our previous provider,” confirms Ben Marsh. “We knew we could get discounts from bus operators due to the high volume of our event, but Bus.com has the experience to know just how low price points can be pushed. And their scheduling platform ensures rates are consistent across suppliers.”

We saved about 40% per bus compared to our previous provider. We knew we could get discounts from bus operators due to the high volume of our event, but Bus.com has the experience to know just how low price points can be pushed.

Ben Marsh, Director of Short-Term Missions, Bethel Church

Overcoming last-minute changes

Students participating in the 2019 Short-Term Missions enjoyed another year of seamless bus transportation – in spite of major, last-minute scheduling changes.

Ben Marsh comments: “Three weeks out from the event, we realized that our budget was under pressure. We took another look at our schedule, and decided that we needed to make some changes. Bus.com was super receptive, and they worked with us to consolidate multiple student groups into single coach buses to reduce the number of vehicles.”

Behind the scenes, Bus.com completely overhauled the bus schedule, switching from using mostly minibuses to mostly coach buses. Having to make such large-scale changes on such short notice could have been a disaster, but Bus.com ensured that everything went smoothly.

“All students got to their flights on time,” recalls Ben Marsh. “And, as always, the return journey was just the best.”

Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry students.

Proactive customer service

Bus.com is not just responsive to Bethel’s evolving requirements, it also provides proactive suggestions to help the Church improve its processes. Each year, after the event, Bus.com checks in with Bethel to discuss what can be done better next time. 

“After the 2019 event, Bus.com suggested that in future we could overbook buses in advance, and then cancel down as we finalize the numbers. That way, we can be sure that we’ll have enough buses, and we’ll benefit from fixed pricing.

“Bus.com’s proactive approach helps me make sure that busing never falls through the cracks,” concludes Ben Marsh. “Airport transfers are only one part of the event, so it’s great that I can focus on other things. And I’m always confident that Bus.com can adapt and solve any last-minute problems.”

About Bus.com

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