In our Meet & Greet series, we meet the people behind some of the amazing transfer companies working with Jayride.com.To kick off the series we speak to Kris Able, owner and driver of transfer company Able 2 Tour in Sydney, about his passions for the job, why he started the company and the famous faces he’s met along the way.
Kris Able takes a lot of pride in his work. You can tell this from his spotless vehicles, his passion and can-do attitude for the job, and even the way he impeccably dresses. Everyone’s a VIP when they travel with Kris, and he says this is his point of difference. As he sits down to chat at his office, his PA Visca works tirelessly in the background, sorting paperwork and making phone calls. It’s a team effort.
‘I’d be lost without her!’ says Kris. ‘Visca organises all the paperwork for Able 2 Tour. She’s so good with this stuff.’
Able 2 Tour transfer company was founded back in 2000, but Kris says he’s been working in the airport transfer industry for over 25 years. He could see where improvements could be made though, and after 10 years decided to branch out on his own.
‘I thought to myself, I could do this better! So we bought a vehicle and started out from there,’ he says of his decision to start down his own path.
Kris is passionate about great customer service and making his passengers feel welcome
In the beginning it was just Kris and Visca. But the company has gone from strength to strength, and now Able 2 Tour contracts more than 20 drivers, as well as running the two vehicles that Kris owns.
‘You have to go above and beyond,’ says Kris. ‘It boils down to the presence of the driver, the presence of the vehicle and what is being done for the customer. It’s the ‘wow’ factor when people travel. That’s what they want. I’m very passionate about how I look after my people.’
Kris recalls one time he was at the airport, and a young couple emerged from a taxi looking distressed. ‘The man had left his phone in the taxi, but because I knew who to contact I was able to chase down the taxi and get his phone back for him.
‘People lose luggage, lose everything, and you have to go above and beyond to get it back,’ he adds. ‘The last thing you want is to lose everything. People are stressed and don’t know how to backtrack. When I’m at the airport, I’m focussed. I care, I’m passionate.
‘I want to make sure that the trip goes smoothly for my passengers. It’s doing a great job and making customers happy that makes it all worthwhile.’
On Jayride.com, Sydney is one of the most-booked airports for airport transfers, and Kris says part of his job is making visitors feel welcome in his home city. An airport transfer can make or break a visitor’s trip.
‘I always go that extra mile for customers,’ says Kris. ‘I do the meet and greet, get them from point A to point B, provide a commentary and brochures so that by the time they’re at their hotel, they know the best spots to eat, where to visit, how to get an Opal card (the card used for Sydney’s public transport) and how to get to the beaches.’
Kris lets us in on his favourite Sydney haunts, the places he always recommends visitors check out while they’re visiting the Harbour City.
‘You can’t miss Bondi Beach and the surf club, next to the iconic Icebergs. You come to Australia, go to the beach, have a meal at the surf club with that view – it’s unbelievable!,’ he exclaims.
Kris says the iconic Icebergs – fresh water swimming pools built into the sea – at Sydney’s Bondi Beach are unmissable, and recommends a trip to this famous beach for anyone visiting the Harbour City
Kris says Manly Beach is high on his list of recommendations too. ‘Catch the ferry from Circular Quay, then go to the aquarium in Manly and finish the day with a meal at the Ivanhoe Hotel. Also, a trip to the Blue Mountains should definitely be on the list. It’s like the Grand Canyon, but with leaves! You need a full day for that though.’
Kris says that when visitors arrive at the airport they’re often tired and have a place they need to get to, so booking an airport transfer gives visitors that peace of mind when they arrive, and helps them get familiar with a new destination.
‘Airport transfers are beneficial, especially if you’ve never been to that destination before,’ says Kris.
‘At Able 2 Tour, we’re old-school. We print off signs and wait in a prominent position near the exit so customers can find us straightaway. Having a professional person to meet passengers gives them that extra peace of mind, and the customers know what to expect of their journey.
‘My phone is on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The customer is important to me. Those are the benefits of booking through a good transfer company.’
Running a transfer business doesn’t come without challenges though, and with a young family, Kris says getting the work-life balance can be difficult. ‘It’s hard, very hard, especially when you have to work Christmas, and birthdays,’ he explains.
‘I’m married to the job, it’s a 24/7 commitment because I want to do an outstanding job. The business has to come first, because without the business, there’s no bread on the table.’
Even his downtime is all about maintaining the vehicles, ensuring they’re up to standard. Even as we’re talking, he receives a call about replacing the tyres on one of the vehicles. He apologises for the interruption, and it’s clear this is a non-stop role for him. When asked what he does for enjoyment outside of work, Kris says he loves spending time in the garden, and with his birds.
There’s been a steady chirping noise in the background the whole time we’ve been chatting; Kris runs Able 2 Tour from his home, where three cockatiels are noisily enjoying some grass and flowers he’s brought in from the garden. He’s passionate about looking after his birds.
‘Lucky is the white one, and then there’s Maxie and Bling Bling,’ says Kris, explaining that all three birds are tame as he tempts them with grain crackers. ‘I had cockatiels when I was a kid, as well as finches and budgerigars. My Dad bred birds, so we got them off him. They’re a lot of work, but they’re very affectionate. My daughter loves them!
‘When I come home at night, they can see the vehicle lights and they know I’m coming home,’ he grins.
Kris says that he loves his job, but if he could do anything else, breeding cockatiels would be high on the list. He also says he’d love to teach English to less fortunate people, or help a charity, which is no surprise given how much he wants to help people in his current role.
‘That, or sipping on a piña colada in Hawaii!’ he laughs.
Kris his passionate about looking after his pet cockatiels
Now for the fun part – has Kris ever chauffeured any memorable passengers?
‘John Travolta! He was here in Sydney for the soccer and he invited me into his personal jet, so I went in and was told I could sit anywhere but his seat! He was just so cool. I chauffeured him for a week.
‘I went on stage with the Doobie Brothers,’ Kris recalls, and laughs as he explains how he found all the guitar picks on stage and threw them into the audience.
‘I was told, “what are you doing? You should sell those!”
‘I also drove Stevie Nicks [from Fleetwood Mac] around a couple of years ago too. She’s a wild woman!’
Other famous faces include Elton John, the boys from One Direction, Lionel Ritchie, and also chef Pete Evans from My Kitchen Rules, a popular cooking program in Australia.
‘He’s handsome!’ Visca interjects from the office.
As he flicks through his phone, Kris pulls out photos of him and the many clients he’s worked with, including a rather dashing photo of actors Chris and Liam Hemsworth.
‘They’re just normal people,’ Kris explains of his celebrity passengers. ‘You treat them like normal people.’
Kris Able runs Able 2 Tour from his Sydney home with his PA Visca Able
To those who are wanting to start their own transfer company, or are already in the game, Kris has some words of wisdom.
‘You have to love what you’re doing.’ he says. ‘There are so many challenges, including finding the right drivers with the same values, attitude and sense of urgency. There’s a big difference between operator and driver. There’s the paperwork, the coordination, making sure that your drivers call the clients. It’s all the things you don’t get to see behind the scenes. As just a driver or tour guide it would be easy, but to run a business is much more difficult. If Visca didn’t organise the paperwork, I’d be totally lost.’
And as for the future of transport, Kris isn’t worried about the impact driverless cars will have on his business.
‘I don’t think it will affect it at all,’ he says.
‘They can’t do personal meet and greets. How would they contact the client? It loses the personal touch, the little things, the compassion. I love to meet people, and to help people.’