Feb 23

Why You Should Attend an Industry Conference

Attending conferences and conventions

Why should you attend an industry event?

Social media, Zoom meetings, Skype calls, Facetime—with all the technology available to bring people together, why bother attending conferences anymore? What’s the point of taking so much time away from your business to attend an industry conference or trade show when you can just get all the information you need online?

Being active in your industry comes with a wealth of benefits. You can join organizations and connect with people online, but there comes a time when face-to-face is the best way to connect. Here are five reasons to attend a trade show or conference:

  1. Educational opportunities. We can all learn—in fact, we should never stop learning. The educational aspect of a conference can expose you to new ideas for your business. You can learn best practices, and the latest happenings in your industry.
  2. Networking with peers.  Conferences and trade shows provide a great opportunity to network. Competitors from other regions of the country can become valuable resources and referral sources. There’s enough pie for everyone, and you never know when you might need to lean on a competitor.
  3. Encounter new vendors and suppliers. People often shy away from the trade show exhibit hall at conferences like the plague. They fear that they will have to talk to salespeople; however, these are some of the best people for you to get to know. You need to know about products and services for your business to stay competitive. Invest time with the folks and turn them into your friends.
  4. Position yourself as an expert. Who doesn’t want to be seen as an expert at what they do? If you lock yourself in your office and never engage with others in your industry, expert status will never happen for you. Think about your clients, and how much more they will trust you when they know that you are respected by your peers. Attending an industry conference will help you become the expert in your field.
  5. Have fun. All work and no play can get very boring very fast. Industry conferences mix a social aspect into your learning. Many events have fun activities such as parties, golf, and tours of the local area where the event is hosted. If the conference is being held in an area of the country not close to your own, you get an opportunity to see something that you may not have seen before. If the conference is in an area you want to see more of, it doesn’t hurt to take a little extra time at the beginning or end of the event to explore the area. Remember, resting and recharging will make you better at your job when you come back to the office.

And while we’re on the subject of conferences…

Mark your calendar for Sunday, April 15, 2018!

That is the date of Bluebird’s next Users Conference, being held in conjunction with the annual International Car Rental Show at Bally’s Resort & Casino.

The event will begin with an evening outing at the High Roller Ferris Wheel! Therefore, please make plans to arrive by Saturday afternoon, April 14th.

Here are all the details:

Saturday, April 14th, 7:30 p.m. Drinks and Dessert on the High Roller, located at 3545 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (behind the LINQ Hotel and Casino).

Sunday, April 15th, 8 a.m.   Meetings take place in the Skyview ROOM 2 on the 26th Floor.

AGENDA
  •  Introductions
  • Brief Presentations by Sponsoring Vendors
  • State of the Union Address
  • Sales and Support
  • Chip and Pin Requirements for Credit Cards
  • Product Update
    – VIN Decoding/Recalls
    – Leasing
    – RW Mobile
    – RW Express
    – RW5
  • New Products/Interfaces
    – Broker XML Interface
    – HUF/Sixth Sense
    – Erez5
    – Topaz Signature Capture
  • Development Calendar
  • Open Forum

The Conference will adjourn at 5 p.m., which is when the opening reception for the International Car Rental Show begins!

Registration will close on Wednesday April 11th (as we’ll have to get meal counts to the hotel) and that the cost is only $49 per person! We hope to see you there!

To register, click here.

Feb 11

Why Should You Consider a Car Rental Broker?

Online Travel Broker Website

A car rental broker is an intermediary between car rental companies (ACE, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, NextCar, Thrifty, etc.) and consumers. Car rental brokers don’t own rental cars; the car rental companies do. From a consumer (renter) perspective, they can get exactly the same rental car from a broker that they would by going directly to the car rental company, only for a much better price.

If you are a car rental operator, online brokers are a great way to expand the reach of your business and your customer base as they sell to customers worldwide. In some regions, the business from brokers accounts for 75 percent of all rentals, accessing customers from foreign markets that otherwise would likely have booked only with a global brand.

 

Online brokers need many suppliers to ensure sufficient supply at all times of the year. Working through an XML connection means that brokers are providing their customers with real-time rates and availability and bookings that are confirmed with the rental supplier immediately.

 

Car rental brokers operate online and market their sites globally. It is impossible for local operators to have that kind of reach without switching the nature of their business operations from renting cars to online marketing. Additionally, it is difficult for operators to understand what international market has the most potential business for them. Brokers understand this and will market in the countries where they know the bookings are coming from. International business can supplement a local business at times when local business just isn’t providing enough turnover. It can also help a business to grow larger than it could have otherwise done by just depending on local business.

Brokers are becoming recognized car rental brands in their own right, so a start-up or independent brand can benefit from a global brand without purchasing a franchise. Customers also like brokers because they can compare prices, prepay their rental, and have the convenience of having insurance waivers and taxes included in the price they pay. 

Renting via a broker is the united power of consumers: they turn your negotiation power into that of a big multinational company. Because car rental brokers handle large numbers of reservations (thousands a day), they are able to negotiate much lower rental prices than individual consumers or small companies could. This saves private customers a lot of money, because they get the same discount as big companies that rent many cars!

Car rental companies rent many cars to businesses. These clients usually rent a car for only one day and mainly during working days. These one day rentals include a large amount of overhead: the car has to be rented again, the car has to be cleaned, the tank has to be filled, etc. This makes car rental expensive.

On the other hand, car rental brokers rent most cars to private consumers. The average rental period is a whole week. The car doesn’t have to be cleaned every day, the tank doesn’t have to be filled, the car doesn’t have to be rented out again. This saves money: the longer you rent a car, the cheaper it gets. And private consumers fill the gaps in the rental schedules: they mainly rent cars during weekends and holidays, when there are no business clients. This gives brokers even more room to negotiate lower prices.

Car rental brokers also arrange for all-inclusive packages: unlimited mileage/kilometers, third party insurance, CDW insurance, theft protection insurance, airport delivery charges, and local taxes are included in the quoted rental price. When customers rent a car directly from a rental company, it is not unusual that what they eventually pay is twice the quoted price. Car rental brokers offer much better rental conditions, without unpleasant surprises.

The new Bluebird XML Portal takes those benefits further by offering the brokers and our customers the opportunity to connect to our hub. This means with just one connection, brokers can connect with any of our XML Portal subscribers, giving the broker more options at a lower cost. For our customers, this means access to leading online brands with exposure to massive international markets. The Broker XML Portal is a distribution tool, which means that our customers retain control of their pricing and inventory. The bottom line: you only sell what you want, when you want.

Please contact our sales department at 800-304-5805, sales@barsnet.com if you are interested in improving/expanding your rental market.

Jan 25

Why Chip and PIN Credit Cards are Better for Your Rental Business

Horror stories of large companies who have suffered through data breaches have become more commonplace than anyone wants to believe. These breaches happen when hackers illegally obtain credit card information from large amounts of users. It’s a public relations nightmare for the merchants, and a huge headache for the victims of the breach. Chip and PIN credit cards can make these breaches a thing of the past.

These new cards encode the user’s account information in a computer chip embedded in the card, rather than with a magnetic strip. The chip generates a unique, one-time code for each sale.

The actual name for the new card system is EMV, for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa standards. However, most call them chip cards, or chip and PIN cards.

When a merchant’s system doesn’t store data, it cannot be used to create counterfeit cards. This makes the merchant less of a target for hackers. With chip cards, there’s not a lot the hackers can do with the encrypted data..

In most of the world, when people buy with a credit card they place their card in the reader and then input a Personal Identification Number, or PIN. This is similar to what Americans do when we use cash machines. However, in America, most banks issue cards that allow a signature, rather than a PIN, as confirmation. Some banks require PINs right away. Eventually it’s expected all will.

Fraud Reduction

According to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, chip and PIN cards could reduce credit card fraud by 40 percent in the US. Getting to that point, though, requires money, work, and expense on your part as a merchant. In the past, credit card companies and banks bore the liability for fraudulent purchases on credit cards. But beginning last October, merchants who hadn’t switched to readers that can take the new cards are liable for fraud if there’s a problem.

Merchants aren’t required to make the switch, but chip and PIN cards are coming. Merchants need to be prepared. While new cards will still have magnetic stripes, businesses are encouraged to shift over quickly. That means buying new credit card machines and software capable of reading both chip cards and magnetic stripe cards.

Credit card companies plan to spend the first part of the year in a push to get companies to upgrade. For example, American Express will offer $100 in reimbursement to merchants that switch to the chip card readers in February.

The idea is to encourage merchants to make the shift, and experts say that sooner is better. Security experts are predicting a wave of data breaches The window is closing for hackers to easily profit from point-of-sale attacks on brick-and-mortar retailers,

If you’re looking for advice on obtaining chip and PIN card readers, reach out to Bluebird Auto Rental Systems today at 800-304-5805. We can help!

Dec 29

Do You Have Accident Recovery Solutions in Place?

As a rental agency, what do you do when you rent a vehicle out, and the renter has an accident? What accident recovery solutions do you have in place? The car that you rented could be severely damaged, even totaled.

Of course, if the renter has purchased the insurance that you offer, these are easy questions to answer. You simply make the claim against that insurance policy. That company will pay out the damages.

This becomes a slightly stickier problem if the renter opts out of the insurance that you offer. Many times, this is exactly what renters will do. They assume that because they have their own personal auto insurance, that will cover them in the event of an accident in a rental vehicle. That very well may be true. However, it’s not always the case. As the rental company, it is your responsibility to be sure that your renters have adequate insurance to cover losses to a rental vehicle.

Accident Recovery Solutions

Here are some tips that you can use to be sure you won’t have to take a hit on damages done to your vehicles:

  1. Every time a renter comes in, even if they are a regular, check to be sure they have a valid driver’s license.
  2. Check renters’ addresses every time they rent. If they have an accident and you don’t have a valid address on file for them, you will have to bear the responsibility and cost for trying to find them to collect damage. Renters must also pay fees, including administration and loss of use fees. But you can only collect if you can find them to bill them.
  3. Check renters’ insurance information, every time they come in to rent. It’s not uncommon for a renter to buy insurance so they get the card, and then let the insurance lapse. If they have an accident without any insurance, you may be responsible for the damages.
  4. Be sure renters’ insurance includes collision coverage. Most rental agencies require that renters’ insurance has this provision, or they will be required to purchase the insurance from the agency. You won’t know for sure if they have collision coverage unless you check.

Accidents Can Cost You Big Money

As the rental agency, you can sue renters for accident recovery fees. However, if you can’t find the renter, or they have no insurance, you will have to pay for the damages or purchase a new vehicle. This can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

You may be thinking that finding all of this out takes too much time, and it will increase line length and customer complaints. While this may be true, finding out all of this information can save you money in your accident recovery efforts.

Need help making sure your renters are adequately covered? Reach out to Bluebird Auto Rental Systems today at 800-304-5805. We can help!

Dec 01

Upgraded RentWorks Ensures Safety Recalls are Handled

 

SafetyRecall

If you rent or lease cars and your fleet consists of 35 or more vehicles, you need this information about safety recalls. The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act took effect recently. This law makes it a violation to rent, loan, or sell defective, unsafe recalled cars until the safety recalls have been repaired.

The act’s namesakes, two sisters ages 24 and 20, died because of an accident in a rental car that had been recalled but not repaired.

Rental car companies purchase the most new cars in North America. They also sell the most used cars. Under the new federal law, rental companies will have to repair millions of used cars.  This is in addition to existing state laws that prohibit dealers from selling unsafe products to the public. 

This new law is the first expansion of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) authority over safety recalls since the agency’s start in the 1960s. Now the NHTSA can issue fines and other sanctions to help prevent tragedies caused by defective vehicles.

Most players in the rental car industry, including Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, Dollar-Thrifty, Alamo, National, and the American Car Rental Association, helped persuade lawmakers to vote in favor of the act.  They worked with representatives of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety and other supporters to pass the new law. General Motors and Honda also supported the bill, unlike other major auto manufacturers.

The Senate and House both rejected auto manufacturers’ attempts to kill the bill. They also voted to legalize rentals and loaners of recalled vehicles with disclosure. This would have blamed victims for accidents, since sellers warned buyers in advance of issues with the cars.

How can Bluebird help with safety recalls on vehicles?

Now that this law is in effect, you’ll need to know which vehicles in your fleet currently have recalls. We can help with that. We just released our latest version, RentWorks 4.1.G. It includes VIN decoding, which is an interaction between the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Authority) and RentWorks. The VIN goes to the NHTSA, and in return we receive specific vehicle information based upon the VIN. RentWorks stores this information for future use. 

We also receive Safety Recall information for the specified vehicle(s) based on the first eight characters of the VIN. RentWorks stores them as pending maintenance alerts. Once activated, these maintenance alerts will ground available vehicles and ground vehicles when they are returned. They will remain grounded until owners satisfy the safety recalls.

Are you ready to get started with RentWorks, or upgrade to the latest version? Call Bluebird today at 800-304-5805, or email sales@barsnet.com for more information.

 

Oct 09

RentWorks Express is Released!

Bluebird is pleased to announce our new “app” for Android and iOS tablets: RentWorks Express!

rentworks-express

Available from Google Play and the Apple AppStore, RentWorks Express has been developed in the Telerik Kendo UI platform.  Telerik, now a Progress Software company, is an award-winning development environment.

For dealership service departments, this app will quickly open a loaner agreement:

  • Import driver details from a DMS or the RentWorks renter table
  • Enter the repair order number
  • Assign the bill-to and service writer
  • Select a vehicle

 

You will then be able to electronically obtain their signature on the tablet, and email the completed contract.

For regular car rental operations, use the app to honor an existing open reservation.  The contract will be opened using all of the information from the reservation.  Assign the car, have the driver provide their initials and signature on the tablet, and you’re done!

The app has been developed so that ANY contract/agreement form can be used as long as there is sufficient “white space” surrounding each initial and signature.

RW Express will work with Android OS version 5 or greater or iPad iOS version 8 or greater. For our on-premises customers: please note that RW Express requires Progress version 11.6.

Please contact your account manager if you would like to try it out.

Aug 29

5 Bad Habits for Car Rental Social Media

Five Bad Social Media Habits

Car rental and social media unfortunately do go well together. Here are he main bad habits of car rental’s social media presence. In the next edition, we will discuss how to solve them!

 

social-media

 

1. Spamming Social Feeds with Repetitive Messages

One sure way to get people to avoid following you, and those following you to stop doing so is to spam their feeds. Instead of making every last tweet about your rates, try some content that is engaging and motivates your ideal customer to learn more about your business. You will be amazed by the amount of people who stick around, and actually respond to what you have to say!

2. Sticking to Only Facebook and Twitter

While they are no doubt the big two, and need to be used – there are plenty of other social media services that can help market your business. We have previously discussed Instagram and its capabilities; other platforms to consider are Tumblr and Pinterest.

3. Leaving Social Media Accounts Barren

While we strongly suggest keeping your accounts active, nothing makes your business look more abnormal than having social accounts that have been inactive for months or years. It’s one thing to understand that you can’t take the time to manage your business’s social media needs, but at least take the time to delete inactive accounts. That way when potential customers check you out they don’t see a ghost town, which has the potential to reflect poorly on your business.

4. Asking for Retweets or Likes/Shares (Cringe!)

A compliment is best when it is given unsolicited. A compliment means little when it is asked for repeatedly on social media. If your content is good, people will notice. If not, people will ignore it. It’s really that simple.

5. Not Talking with Your Audience

Ask your audience questions, reply to their comments, and proactively engage with people on channels like Twitter and Instagram who have similar interests as your brand in a genuine manner. Searching hashtags that are similar to your brand’s interest can accomplish the latter. You’ll see your engagement, sentiment and audience grow. For more social media discussion follow our blog at

Jul 24

Bluebird Teams With JumpDrive

BrightLot announces that Bluebird Auto Rental Systems, a leading provider of cost-effective software to vehicle rental companies and dealership loaner fleets, has completed integration with their JumpDrive product, the latest technology in vehicle monitoring for your assets.

jumpdrive

 

The integrated solution was successfully deployed at a luxury car dealership in the Boston area. JumpDrive uses an on-board diagnostics (OBD-II) plug-in device to monitor a vehicle’s precise fuel level and odometer.

The device transmits this information directly to Bluebird’s system when a vehicle returns back on the lot for check-in. JumpDrive also sends an arrival alert that shows the exact fuel charge, driver behavior compared to previous trips on the same vehicle, and alerts agents of vehicle damage, off-road driving, or pilferage.

 

 

“We are excited to release this powerful product to our customer base” said Angela Margolit, President of Bluebird Auto Rental Systems. “The time it normally takes to obtain the odometer and fuel levels by service agents is virtually eliminated – and of course the values are 100% accurate.”

Sachin Chaudhry, Co-CEO of BrightLot said “We are proud to work with the Bluebird team. We are impressed by the breadth of their products and the team’s passion for their many long standing customers.”

Jun 27

Bluebird Auto Rental Systems Integrates With Dealertrack

Bluebird Auto Rental Systems, a leading provider of cost-effective software to vehicle rental companies and dealership loaner fleets, is proud to announce that it has completed integration of its Bluebird’s NetRent/LoanerTrack with Dealertrack’s dealership management system (DMS).

dealertrack

Dealertrack DMS customers who use Bluebird Auto Rental’s software NetRent/LoanerTrack for their service loaner fleets and rental departments will benefit from increased efficiencies by having the two systems fully integrated.

NetRent/LoanerTrack, which was approved via Dealertrack’s Opentrack Certification Program, speeds up the check-in and check-out process of loaner cars and makes it easy to track which cars are out on loan and when they are due back.

Data fields can be made mandatory and unlimited custom codes can be created, i.e. Employee Use, which can be assigned to each vehicle. The product’s graphical Reservation Planner allows users to instantly review how many vehicles are on rent, when they are due back and what the assigned reservations are in the future.

“Dealertrack’s Opentrack Certification Program made it easy and inexpensive to integrate our system with their dealership management system,” said Angela Margolit, President of Bluebird Auto Rental Systems. “Our customers who use Dealertrack’s DMS will be able to access Netrent/LoanerTrack directly from their DMS workstations, streamlining the loaner car and rental process and creating associated revenue opportunities.”

“Dealertrack’s DMS Opentrack Certification Program allows dealers to securely integrate their Dealertrack DMS with certified third-party providers and software, like Bluebird and its NetRent/LoanerTrack software, used within a dealership,” said Sharon Kitzman, Vice President and General Manager, For Immediate Release DMS, Dealertrack. “In addition to Bluebird, there are more than 120 certified Opentrack partners.”

If you are a Bluebird customer using Dealertrack and are interested in more information, feel free to contact us today!

Jun 17

Customer Service and “#Spiderpocalypse2016”: What We Can Learn

We have stressed the need of having a strong online presence when it comes to customer service for years now. However, a recent event involving a rental car, and a plethora of spiders, demonstrates exactly how important it is to have someone behind the keyboard for your operation.

customer-service

What went down?

Chris Tarantino rented a vehicle from a Hertz location in the Fort Meyers, Florida, area. He was reaching in his backseat when suddenly something happen which would surely garner the same reaction from many….

Now don’t get me wrong, this could happen at any time to anyone. However, seeing that it this happened in a rental car, it is understandable that the blame quickly was deflected to Hertz.

Of course, the Hertz location didn’t want someone driving around with baby spiders, so they worked with Chris to get him a replacement for his spider-ridden Dodge Charger. Chris took the opportunity to name his misfortune “#Spiderpocalypse2016”

In the meantime Hertz’s official Twitter account made sure that everything was under control.

Luckily, someone at the Hertz location was on the ball and had someone ready to respond, and the situation was taken care of (Tarantino’s car was replaced). He was quick to thank Hertz for their efforts.

 

Once the situation was handled Hertz made sure to let them know that he could always reach back to them if any other issues arise.

What we can learn!

Having a strong customer service department, both online and off, can mitigate many issues that arise. With both the original Hertz location and the corporate location responding to Chris’ time of need, the situation was handled and it was clear that the company cares about their customers.

This should go without saying, but it is absolutely necessary that you respond promptly. Hertz’s responses didn’t come a day later, they came minutes later, and that’s an important detail. The longer you wait, the worse your operation is going to look.

Also, the Hertz corporate account gave them their number to call. It is important to take the conversation offline and make it personal. The last thing you want is a long conversation over social media where words can be misinterpreted and everyone can see it.

What’s your Customer Service advice?

What does your operation do to respond to customers online? Let me know in the comment section below!

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