Holiday Discounts On Car Rentals Still Follow Traditional Trends
Despite expensive rates on Thanksgiving, patterns show some savvy incentives
With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, all the major players in the car rental industry have already started offering as many incentives as possible to get consumers on board once they make their pilgrimages (pun only slightly intended) to visit their folks back home.
Enterprise is offering deals as low as $12.99 a day for weekend users, while its Alamo subsidiary is promising as much as $75 off the base rate. Not to be outdone, Avis is pushing its 30 percent discount for those booking online, Budget is promoting a $10 cut off the rental fee if the booking is worth at least $100, and Hertz is encouraging users to book for a week and get a free day out of the deal. Others like Dollar, Silvercar and Sixt are aggressively marketing their own eclectic arrays of discount packages for attention.
To those who don’t follow the industry closely, but are aware that renting a vehicle is traditionally more expensive than any other time of the year, these incentives might seem unusual. Given that supply and demand figure very heavily in the business, especially when fleet owners can’t inventory empty cars, rates are determined primarily on what’s available in the lot. In short, the smaller the fleet of inactive cars on any given day, the higher the booking costs.
But for those savvy enough to book early, especially during the holidays, the greater the likelihood that you’ll get a decent discount. It’s a sure-fire way of ensuring that rental offices will get an empty lot during periods of high activity, especially for smaller municipalities who don’t get anywhere as much action as major centers like New York City. A glimpse of discounts issued during 2018 offers a rough, but telling picture of what happens when particular holidays start looming on the calendar.
During slow periods such as in March and April, the availability of discounts tend to vary between nine to 10 percent. But in the middle of May, late June and late August, they spike up to nearly 13 percent. In mid-November and early December, that fluctuation goes as high as 15 percent.
Those periods seem to jibe with what’s happening holiday-wise. May suggests people booking in time for Memorial Day at the end of the month. June and August are prime for summer vacationers, especially for those wanting to hit the road once the kids are out of school and those who want to get away from it all just before the September crunch of school and cooler weather. November reflects early bookings for Thanksgiving, while December indicates advance reservations for Christmas. Interestingly enough, the most expensive date and one where you’re nowhere near as likely to get a discount is Dec. 21.
Besides early bookings, the trends, which have been consistent for years, also encourage people to get discounts on more mid-size vehicles, since economy cars are most likely to leave the lot first. Others include discounts for users who plan to pick up their car during the mid-week or avoid picking one up at the airport. And to really get a deal when booking in advance, consumers try to reserve a car on a Thursday.
For dealers offering discounts, the right vehicle management software can incorporate those incentives right into its system. Bluebird’s RentWorks offers an easy-to-use interface that can account for bookings that include any discounts a car rental company has. The Res Planner enables company staff to use colored charts and drag and drop features to easily book and reserve a vehicle so that consumers can have peace of mind for the holidays.