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Carl T.Haley Jr. - Week In Review

This past week for me has been amazing.  First my wife, Connie Haley and I attended the Music City Walk of Fame for Steve Cropper, E.W. “Bud” Wendell, Miranda Lambert and one of my all-time favorite Country Music Legends, Johnny Cash to receive their stars.  The Honorable Mayor Megan Barry was there to speak and did an amazing job of welcoming everyone in attendance.  It was a bucket list event for the two of us and it was all made possible by the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, also known as the CVC – thanks to Butch Spyridon, Executive Director and his wonderful Team! 

I then got to spend four days at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, with my sweet and beautiful wife Connie Haley celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary, and did I say she is also my best friend and an awesome life coach.  You should check out her articles in the Your Williamson Magazine.  This great and memorable getaway would not have been possible without the help of Tod Roadarmel, Director of Sales and Nydia Navarez, Director of Room Operations with the Omni Hotel here in Nashville – you two, plus Dan Piotrowski, the General Manager and the rest of the team are the very best! 

I also was invited to speak at the local GBTA chapter on the topic/concept of Long-Tail Spend.  For those of you not familiar with the concept, join the club (you can learn all about it by down loading the white paper on the internet by GEP).  But I did learn a tremendous amount about the topic from several industry experts and visitors to our chapter; they were Thom Zak, Chief Client Officer of the Parking Spot, Robert J. Hairston, C.P.M, CPSD of HealthTrust, Brian Tarble, Sr. Director of Product, Insight & Analytics of Concur and Chris Froelich, Vice President, Business Development of Dinova.  Our event was hosted by the Embassy Suites at the Airport.  The hotel’s accommodations were spectacular, the staff super friendly, the food delightful and the General Manager, Rone Middler made it all happen perfectly.  Carl T. Haley Jr.

And to wrap up the week I was invited to speak at an YP Williamson, Inc. event called Meet the CEO’s.  A one of a kind event designed to allow young professional to meet one-on-one with local CEO’s in their communities.  I was allowed this honor to participate compliments of John Lowry, JD, executive Director of the Spark Center, Lipscomb University and the Williamson County Chamber.  All in all it was an awesome and amazing week for me!  Isn’t it great to live in the Greater Metropolitan Nashville area and to be part of all the amazing things that are happening in our amazing and great city – the It City, or even better Music City!  I sure think so.

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Iroquois Steeplechase: May 10, 2014

The steeplechase is a timeless tradition.

The first one is said to have been the result of a wager in 1752 between Cornelius O'Callaghan and Edmund Blake, racing four miles cross-country from Buttevant Church to St. Leger Church in Doneraile, in Cork, Ireland.

Nashville’s steeplechase is born of this same resiliency and deeply rooted history.

The Iroquois Steeplechase has run continuously since 1941, taking only one year off during World War II. Even under threatening weather conditions such as the Nashville Flood of 2010, the race has continued on.

The race goes on because we love it. Most of all, we at Grand Avenue love its style.

“The classic Steeplechase look is all about seersucker, a button down and a bow tie,” Vineyard Vines manager Lele Thompson tells The Tennessean

But style doesn’t begin and end with what you wear. It isn’t just about what color pastels you choose, or the size and shape of your hat. Style is also how you arrive. It is showing up in a classic sedan, spacious van or vintage car. Just like the jockeys, it is more about what gets you to your destination.

The Iroquois draws an average crowd of 25,000 on race day. That’s a lot of people to impress and a lot of traffic to navigate.  

Let Grand Avenue worry about it. Eliminate the parking hassles and driving responsibilities while you enjoy the excitement of this timeless Nashville tradition.

Reserve Your Ride Today! 

A six hour minimum is required for Steeplechase reservations.

What Makes a Great Chauffeur?

There are many companies that like to say that they have the best chauffeurs in town. Which got us thinking about what sets our professional drivers apart from the rest of the competition.

Here are four characteristics that great chauffeurs should exemplify:

Know Your City

Sort of knowing where places are is not going to cut it as a professional. Get to know the ebb and flow of you city. Know where traffic spots are, drive around during different times of day to get a full understanding of rush hour, know the back roads. It’s always a small thrill for out of town guests to get the scoop on the really great “off the beaten path” places but really being able to talk about your surroundings will set you apart.2

Be a People Person

Really great chauffeurs can find common ground with nearly everyone. Nothing makes us more proud than hearing that a chauffeur treated our clients like family while they were in their care. It’s not just small talk or knowing what questions to ask; to be a great chauffeur, you really need to like to be around people from all walks of life.

Dress Impeccably

Not all chauffeur driven companies require a suit and tie as Grand Avenue does but that still gives little reason not to be sharply dressed while working. Press your shirt, jacket and trousers and keep lint rollers and possibly back up articles of clothing with you at all times.

Be Prepared

Every good chauffeur has a small kit but great ones are so intuitive they know what their clients need before the client does. From chargers to Tide sticks, Febreeze to first aid, making sure you are prepared for any situation is the key to being great in this profession.

Don't lose your bags while traveling!

Is there a worse feeling than lost luggage? These things happen in life, but that doesn’t make it any less of a stressful setback. There is a stomach dropping dread that takes over when you see the seemingly endless line of bags on the carousel quickly dissipate and realize that none of them are yours. Lost luggage is an unexpected stress that no one wants while travelling. While there’s no way to prevent this from ever happening, there are ways to make it preventable.


  1. Don’t rely on the routing labels provided by the airline – Our bags have to go through more checkpoints than we do. By the time it reaches the distribution area, the labels that may been provided by the airline could very well be removed or damaged making its destination (and owner) unknown. Ultimately it is placed to the side until someone (you) claims it after filing a report. The report you file after you’ve reached your destination to find out that your luggage was not so lucky. Complete the attachable tags that are usually provided at the check in desk and ensure all of your information is legible. Also, fill out those nice identification tags/cards that are sometimes provided when you purchase luggage.
  2. Set your phone alarm before departure to remind you to pick up your bags – It sounds simple, right? You get off the plane, head straight for the baggage claim area, and pick up your bags. Although, believe it or not, it’s easy to get distracted when getting off that plane. The “single serving friends” you just shared a flight with have now become a stampede and all headed in the same direction as you. Or that in-flight cocktail you had became two or three in-flight cocktails. Whatever the reason may be, forgetting your luggage is a reality. Most of us check our phones the second we get off the plane, so if you set your alarm to go off a few minutes after your scheduled landing time, you should have a friendly reminder waiting for you when you turn your phone back on.
  3. Take a picture of your luggage – While you would probably prefer to keep pictures of sunsets or your children on your phone, storing a picture of your luggage on that same phone may save you a sizable amount of stress. If your luggage does not make it to your destination, whether it be damaged tags or the bag-check attendant enters the wrong destination code, it is likely sitting in the abyss normally called the unclaimed baggage area. If this is the case, you will have to file a lost-baggage report (because we all need one more report to fill out) so that a search can commence. Although if a picture can be presented it will provide more detail for the agents searching for your bag. This will make it easier to locate and you can get back to capturing those sunsets.
  4. Place your itinerary inside each bag – Multi-stop trips can lead to missed connections, for you and your luggage. In an attempt to identify a bag’s owner, the airline staff may look inside for hints as to wear your luggage may have been headed. How fantastic would it be if your itinerary was sitting there waiting for them so that they can forward it to the correct destination?   

What does Chauffeur Driven really mean?

There are so many ways to be driven, it’s hard to differentiate what sets the Black Car Service companies apart from the rideshares and cabs and everything else on the market today.

The key is professionalism.

To be a quality chauffeured transportation company, the standards must meet the high bar set by an industry that has been around for over 100 years. The Chauffeur profession began around the turn of the century, when only the most wealthy could afford cars. No experience or training was required because it wasn’t available and the New York Times complained that “…young men of no particular ability, who have been earning from $10 to $12 a week, are suddenly elevated to salaried positions paying from $25 to $50.”

That has all changed. Chauffeur driven companies like Grand Avenue have set up intense multi-day training for all of their professional drivers. The training courses cover a myriad of categories, including technology, navigation, customer service and, most importantly, safety. Aside from the beautiful kept fleet and sharply dressed employees, professional chauffeured transportation companies stand out from the crowd of the new rideshare model that has come on the market because we take the time and the effort to call ourselves professional.

Just as it was in 1906 (when the previously cited NYT article ran), Chauffeurs are professional career driven individuals looking to provide the best possible customer service for the clientele.

4 Ways to Make Travel Easier

It’s the perfect time of year to start planning your travel for 2014. We’re all going a bit stir crazy with all this winter weather and it’s natural to start dreaming about somewhere warm while formulating your plan to get out of town for a little while.

Now, we all know that traveling by plane is not the sophisticated affair it once was (or seems to be on Mad Men anyway). Flying on an airplane involves a lot of irritating annoyances that can be avoided with a little forethought.

Here’s our list to help make your travel easier:

1. Upgrade

We know it sounds silly and can seem like a waste of money but if you are running late for a flight or have a screaming baby in town, buying that small upgrade will save you valuable time waiting in lines for security and boarding. Maintain sanity and make your flight on time; that may just be worth the >$50 it will cost to upgrade your seat to Business Class.

2. Mark your calendars

According to Business Insider, one in every five people uses a smartphone. Of those users, 89% of people utilize that phone all day for both business and personal need. Why is this important to travel? Use that calendar. Set alerts and/or alarms so you remember to check necessary stuff off the list: buy travel shampoo bottles, check in to a flight, print out your itinerary. You’re pre-occupied with the day-to-day grind and planning for the actual trip. Don’t forget to do the little things that will make it easy to get there.

3. Have a security line routine

The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney has this down pat: his cell phone, watch, keys and pens all go in his briefcase for easy access. Shoes come off in line. ID goes back in the wallet once the TSA agent is finished with it. Boarding passes go in the same pocket of the same suitcase every time. Liquids and laptop are always in the same place in his suitcase to make sure he can grab them quickly and all of the bigger bags go through security first so there is time to put his shoes back on while he waits for his other items. The key is to make it simple, make it quick and know where everything is every time.

4. Pack snacks

The airport is the best place to ditch the calorie count in favor of those wonderful smelling cinnamon rolls or the fries you never let yourself eat. Don’t let the tedium of airport travel mess with your daily intake. Pack a granola bar, grab a Ziploc bag full of nuts or bring some beef jerky in your carry on. Higher protein snacks will keep you fuller longer and curb those cravings.

Choosing the Right Transportation for VIPs

The competition is steep and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of choices there are for VIP travelers. Grand Avenue understands how easily it is to make the wrong decision when trying to cater to high end clientele; please see below for our best advice when choosing your transportation provider.

  1. Do your research

Starting you research by utilizing the resources on the internet is the best way to look in to the value of the service or company you are considering working with. Using word of mouth sources and reviews, such as Yelp, will give you a better idea of whether the company in question is reputable and take care of their clients the way your VIPs expect.2
      2. Network Size

While traveling, it’s important to know where and with whom the company you trust with your transportation services is doing business with. It takes a lot of work to build a network and this is not something that can be done with just anyone, especially with high level clientele. Grand Avenue have affiliates in 465 cities in the US and across Europe; each affiliate is fully vetted by our affiliate manager to ensure we bring on quality partners.

      3. Fleet Quality and Size

Every car is not suitable for your events or clientele and not every company has the diverse fleet that can suit your needs. Ask the questions you need answered and if your executive or VIP wants a specific vehicle, find the service in the town that you are booking in that has them.

      4. Flight Tracking and other technology

Your VIP client does not have time to check with the transportation service on the other end of the flight to see whether they are aware of delayed flights. Make sure to inquire how the company tracks incoming and outgoing flights and how Dispatch oversees GPS location of the vehicles. Many companies also offer satellite TV, Wi-Fi, flats screen TVs and other services that allow business to be done on the go.

      5. Dispatch Staffing Hours

Finally, we recommend asking the hours that Dispatch staff works when you book your reservation. Some companies, like Grand Avenue, are staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Others have an automated service. Confusion doesn’t stop after hours so make sure you know when you will be able to get a hold of someone should something interfere with the itinerary.

Julius Caesar and the beginning of the NYE resolution

That’s right, the infamous Caesar can partly be credited with the celebration of New Year’s Eve as we know it today. In 153 B.C. the Greek calendar was altered to include Janus, god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. Janus is always depicted with two faces: one facing the front and one facing the back. At the end of every calendar year, the Romans were sure that Janus was looking back at the old year and forward in to the new.

Flash to almost a century later when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that divided the seasons far better than previous years. Just as it does currently, New Year’s Eve now fell on December 31st and the Romans started the tradition to exchange gifts for luck in the new year. Nuts, coins and branches from sacred trees were given to bring the recipient good fortune.

The celebration cannot be entirely credited to Greco Roman culture. Ancient Babylonians marked the turn of the New Year on March 23rd. The eve was celebrated by people resolving to return something borrowed from their neighbors in the outgoing year. Historians agree that this was the first New Year’s resolutions to be made.

Other important dates on the road to resolution: in 1722, Puritan theologian Johnathon Edwards wrote 70 mantras he asked his audience to read at least once per week. Many of these sayings become coming resolutions such as “never lose one moment of time” and “live with all my might.”

In 1738, Benjamin Franklin included a chapter on the importance of ridding ones’ self of old habits and making better choices in the year to come in Poor Richard’s Almanac.

So while you choose your resolutions for 2014, remember what Franklin wrote: “Each year one vicious habit rooted out, in time might make the worst man good throughout.”

Whatever your traditions for the incoming year, we wish you a happy and heathy 2014. Happy New Year, from Grand Avenue.

Five Things To Remember When Traveling For The Holidays

It’s that special time of year. Family gets together, the house seems a little cozier and everyone is looking for some well deserved down time. In a perfect world, the holidays would be that easy. Unfortunately, we all understand that the reality of the situation is this: getting there will be a hassle, no matter where you are traveling to.

Here’s our advice on what not to do while traveling during the holidays:

5. Don’t expect the airport parking lots to be easy to navigate

This year, Christmas and New Year’s falls on a Wednesday. That means that travel will be a bit more spread out than usual but it also means that those easily accessed spots near the shuttle pick up will be taken for a longer period of time. In addition, there will be less staff on site during the holidays which will account for less shuttles/longer wait times and bigger lines.

4. The less baggage, the better

Airports can turn even the nicest person in to a curmudgeon and nothing seems to get people more outraged than the fight for overhead bin space. The holiday means more stuff – both to and from your destination – so pack light be aware that those $25-50 baggage fees just may be worth it. There are many families that make their Christmas lists well before the week of and go buy the actual gifts when they arrive. Utilizing sites like can also help for your gifts to arrive before you do.

On that note, if you do travel with your gifts, leave them unwrapped. It is a guarantee that Security will take the wrapping paper off when you go through the line.

3. Charge your electronics

 Many of the major airports across the US have thankfully renovated their waiting areas to allow fore more charging spaces for passengers. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell which airports have made those accommodations. Don’t chance it; keep your cell phone on the charger as long as you can before arriving at the airport.

2. Be Comfortable

Skip the tight clothes, grab your Uggs and don’t bother with the perfume/cologne. Remember that even if you are flying South, wear some layers in order to ensure you don’t get chilly on the plane. Layering also helps to ensure there are fewer items in your bag, leaving room for souvenirs and gifts. Be comfortable and ready for all weather.

1. Whenever possible, fly direct

The longest, worst, most unending bad weather delays always occur during connection flights. No friends or family homes to retreat to and nowhere comfortable to sit. Planning your trip ahead of time will save you some money and get you a seat on the best flight for your destination. Weather delays happen at this time of year- we all know that- and you’re best bet is to try to be three steps ahead of the crowd.