Car rentals lower rates and boost safety during pandemic
Major companies offer additional sanitation services and increased affordability
As predicted, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way car rental companies conduct businesses in a big way, according to survey results of nearly 400 international participants released late in July by DiscoverCars.com. One of the big difference has been in rates being offered between June 2019 and June of this year, which saw significant drops in several countries.
Most operators in the U.S. reported their reduction in rates weren’t particularly huge, save for offices in Florida, which on average saw a decrease of 18 percent. That said, Florida has traditionally been a state that’s offered the lowest rental fees in the U.S.
But even those drops couldn’t compare to those reported in Sweden (57 per cent), followed by Canada (48 per cent) and the Portuguese mid-Atlantic islands of Azores (44 per cent). Florida, which ranked 16th overall, was the only state to crack the global top 20. Interestingly, Norway was the only country to hike its fees, an increase of 13 percent.
Safety a top concern for customers
The survey also revealed that in terms of customer service, protection from the coronavirus was the third most requested item, with automatic transmission and air conditioning ranked first and second respectively. A few companies also asked clients to sign a release indicating they either didn’t have COVID-19 or had been in contact with anyone having the condition.
Others also asked for doctor’s notes to confirm a client’s health with respect to the coronavirus. Additionally, cars driven by customers who contracted COVID-19 during a rental period would go into a quarantine and then thoroughly sanitized.
The majority of survey respondents declared they followed thorough sanitization and disinfection protocols of their fleets, with extra attention paid to the interior, especially steering wheels, ventilation controls and radio buttons. Besides following social distancing procedures, several companies claimed they used plastic covers on steering wheels and seats. Keys have been dispensed to clients in small plastic bags.
More than half the respondents reported handing out free hand sanitizer gels and masks, while a minority of participants also added plastic gloves and small cloth wipes. Roughly 88 percent of companies said they offered these materials for free, with the remainder adding a charge for them.