Touring with rockstars
SetraWorld Magazine

Touring with rockstars

With his Setra buses, Clemens Behle offers stars an exclusive touring service.

What do rock musicians need when touring? A comfortably furnished tour bus. Entrepreneur Clemens Behle tells us about his passion for buses and coaches, his special relationship with Setra and the stars’ need for a bit of private down-time.

Prying eyes have no chance against the deeply tinted windows of the silver Setra S 531 DT double-decker. Discretion, after all, is part of the business. More specifically, show-business. It’s something Clemens Behle has been involved in for more than 40 years. When he started out, he was on stage himself, touring with his rock theatre the length and breadth of Germany. Today there is scarcely a single international show-business star with whom the 58-year-old entrepreneur has not worked. What started in the 1980s with a self-converted 20-year-old Setra S 9 has today become Europe’s biggest tour bus company: Coach Service, headquartered in Reichshof (near Cologne) and with branches in four European capitals. 

COVID-19 has hit the events industry hard. Before the pandemic, when concerts and events were able to take place, around 100 Coach Service buses were on the road across Europe. Behle calls his exclusive tour buses “Nightliners”, indicating their essential difference from ordinary touring coaches. Instead of having 80 seats, the Setra double-deckers provided by Coach Service have up to 16 beds, 2 suites, a kitchen, bathroom and comfortable lounge spaces. In each individual bus, Clemens Behle and his employees have created luxurious rooms for living and travel, thanks to smart ideas, high-quality materials and plenty of artisanal skill.

“For every artist, we adapt the interior to their individual needs.”

Clemens Behle, tour bus entrepreneur.
BUS(Y)LIFE #1: In the life of a nightliner business owner.

BUS(Y)LIFE #1: In the life of a nightliner business owner.

BUS(Y)LIFE takes you onboard the bus-community and tells great stories from the life of the bus drivers. In the first episode, Clemens, the owner of a successful coach service company throughout Europe, shows us the luxurious interior equipment of one of his Setra Premium Nightliners. His tour service for artists and their crew leaves no wish from his high-level guests left unfilled, not even the one of mounting a New Yorker bed into the bus.

Click here to get to the video

“The idea for the first tour bus arose when our band was unable to find suitable overnight accommodation at many tour locations,” Behle explains. Since then, the company’s own workshops have fitted generations of tour buses with exclusive furnishings. Around 20 employees are regularly employed there to convert and fit-out the interior of the vehicles. “Even when all the elements are in, the job isn’t finished,” explains Behle, who still designs and generates ideas for Nightliner furnishings. “For every artist, we adapt the interior to their individual needs.” For this reason, Behle has developed a modular furnishing concept offering nine different basic floor plans and practically infinite variety. “We develop everything we need ourselves and use innovative, high-quality materials.”  It goes without saying that the components fulfil every safety and approval regulation, even exceeding demands. “We operate a passenger transport company. The safety of our passengers is our top priority.”

“Many artists tell me how at ease and safe they feel on board our buses.”

Setra double-deckers have always been the basis for the exclusive Nightliners. And not by chance, the Coach Service boss confirms: “Our links with Setra are founded on decades of excellent collaboration.” Setra engineers not only adapt the interior to prepare it for the special additional furnishings, they also adjust the chassis and other technical details to accommodate the required changes. You cannot compare the Nightliner to a normal coach.  Passengers feel this too, Clemens Behle asserts: “Many artists tell me how at ease and safe they feel on board our buses. For me, there is no greater compliment than when a guest says: ‘every time, it feels like coming home’.”

Creating a home for artists on the road requires not just comfortable buses, but also a great deal of preparation, with full commitment from all involved. “As a rule, we need a run-up time of one-and-a-half years,” reports Behle. Every step, every journey, every place the bus is parked has to be approved by the event organiser and road crew. “Even if it all looks spontaneous to the concert-goers, every large stage show is planned down to the last second.”  If even a single building-block is out of place, the success of the overall event may be compromised.” 

One of these building-blocks is respect for the artists’ privacy – something the experienced operator knows well. “On stage, musicians give their all for their fans, but for the rest of the day, most of them need to be apart, to rest, so they can prepare for the next show. Some stars even prefer to spend the night in our tour buses because they cannot get into a hotel without being noticed by their many fans,” Behle says. His team and his buses are well prepared for this. While the Nightliner furnishings, including beds, kitchens and a shower, ensure maximum comfort, their fully tinted windows protect the silver Setra S 531 DT double-decker against prying eyes. Discretion, after all, is part of the business.

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