Digital Shift Predicted to Change Car Rental Focus on Customers
All travel stakeholders likely to re-examine operations models to adjust
Technology in the car rental business and other facets of the travel industry has changed the way they do business. Transactions and service has improved in terms of speed and convenience, for openers. And while that’s a win-win from service providers to customers, there’s already a more social evolution that going high tech has brought about.
According to Quartz India, the global shift has already started, involving everyone from car rentals to airlines and hotels. Companies used to rely on a more operational perspective in that it provides everything a customer needs to go from a starting point to a destination and back again.
But now, a different mindset offered by millennials is starting to dominate the economy and will be running pretty well everything in a few years. Due to this, the focus has changed from folks being points on a map to human beings craving a far more unique travel experience. That poses a number of challenges to the car rental industry, although many of its players have already responded to the change.
Digitization has already altered the more operations-based workflow in most of the major companies, such as Avis, which has since discovered new opportunities with its upgraded app offering more opportunities for its clientele to customize its rental experience. Not surprisingly, the likes of Enterprise and Hertz have followed suit, offering new options such as multi-tiered subscription-based rental programs.
It’s also an ideal way to boost loyalty programs and retain customers, although digitization can also make things easier to customize their specific needs. With nearly 90 percent of companies in the travel industry already converting to digital services or considering the shift, the remaining players balking at the digital morph will likely have a harder time grabbing a share of the global travel market, estimated to swell to nearly $11.4 billion by 2025.
Some trends that will contribute to reaching that target, and those worthy of additional attention, include more unconventional requests. Lately, those showing growth include destinations off the beaten path (where car rental rates are traditionally higher) and the movement towards “slow travel” (which might involve a car rental of a period longer than usual).
Additionally, social media will continue to play a larger part in influencing prospective travelers, meaning that car rental companies may look at what users need in terms of vehicles, but also which destinations get a lot of viewership online. Other trends include more bundling of rental car services into destination packages replete with other options as airfare and accommodations, with plenty of room for customization. Search engines will also play a larger part as an influencer, as evidenced by Google’s recent introduction of a booking feature.
All of this will require a different set of strategies among rental car companies to get a leg up on the competition, but one thing is clear: The days of operation-based ways of doing business are numbered.