Higer ensures young at heart stays on the road

By: Graham Gardiner

A specialist Australian coach tour operator has switched to Higer’s 8.5-metre Ryder midi-bus having determined it is the perfect fit for its luxury coach tours aimed specifically at the seniors market.

Higer ensures young at heart stays on the road
The Higer 8.5m is a perfect fit for the company.

Young at Heart Tours has a fleet of four Higer 8.5 Ryders all of which are specially configured to make touring easier for its customers, whose average age is around 80.

General Manager Craig Heath says the Higer 8.5m is a perfect fit for the company and has enabled it to replace smaller mini buses with a more luxurious and efficient bus that is more comfortable and attractive for its customers.

"We operate a premium service and the Higer Ryders enabled us to replace a fleet of mini buses that were about the right size passenger wise but had to tow luggage trailers and had less interior space," he says.

"The Ryder is slightly larger but gives us the luxury of being able to take some seats out to provide more room for the passengers while its under floor load through luggage bins mean we no longer have to tow luggage trailers.

"The Higer was the right size and specification with Cummins engines and Allison transmission providing added confidence."

Heath adds that while price was an issue it wasn't the major factor in choosing Higer.

"Obviously we look for value in any vehicle purchase we make and while the Higers were very attractive price wise it was the entire package that made them a compelling business case for us," he says.

"Having more interior space than the mini buses has allowed us to remove some seats, install a small kitchenette for coffee and tea making, and provide a storage area for walkers and other gear our passengers might require on tour."

Young at Heart has configured three of its Higer Ryder with just 20 seats, removing a row of seats on one side of the aisle as well as installing the kitchenette to maximise comfort for its elderly passengers.

"The Higers have attracted very positive comment from our customers who love the extra room, the smooth ride and the fact that they can have a cup of tea on board when we stop during the day at various places on our tours," Heath says.

Young at Heart has also forged a strong relationship with Melbourne dealer, Prestige Higer in Dandenong, where the company's four Higers are based when they aren't touring the country.

"Prestige look after them, service them and store them outside our normal touring period and in between tours," he says.

"The system we run sees three of the Higers virtually in a constant tour around the country with our passengers flying in and out of regional centres to tour a certain part of the country."

"The other Higer has been based on Kangaroo Island in South Australia at times, handling tours of the island for our passengers who fly in with our other company, Australian Air Holidays, but is currently back at our base in Melbourne.

"The Higers can leave Melbourne and be away touring around the country for four months at a time so we have to be confident of their reliability and dependability which they have been save for a few teething problems early on, although these were quickly sorted.

"When the Higers first came on fleet we had a couple of issues with steering and air-conditioning, but Prestige and Higer distributor WMC made sure they were quickly sorted and they caused us no real inconvenience."

Young at Heart's oldest Higer joined the fleet in 2009 while the remaining three came online in 2010.

Heath says the company would be happy to buy more Higers in the future as and when the need arises.

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