Recapping The Car Rental Scene in 2019
The industry rose through an unpredictable year in flying colors
The year started with a great deal of uncertainty with an economy at yet another crossroads and the intrusion of ride sharing proving to be a genuine threat to the car rental industry. But it closed with a lot of renewed optimism, thanks mostly to technology that helped improve the bottom lines of major players. Here’s a look at 10 stories that demonstrated that 2019 was a year of change.
Apps become a game changer
Several major companies risked a lot by putting their faith in the hands of consumers, who finally got the opportunity to manage their own accounts via revamped apps to control their payments and get more booking options. Avis led the charge in this innovation, and even won an international award for its efforts.
Subscriptions introduced to market
Never in the century-old auto rental industry did anyone ever try the idea of booking subscriptions, until Enterprise introduced it in the spring. It helped with company performance, even prompting rival firm Hertz to follow suit.
Connectivity increases efficiency
While hooking up a fleet to the Internet is on the verge of realizing a great deal of possibilities for the car rental industry, a lot of them are finding out that the technology is helping cut down costs. The biggest areas where players, especially Avis, benefited were in fuel costs and vehicle maintenance expenses.
ICRS created vibe of urgency
Normally, a convention is a way for attendees to network for possibilities, but the 2019 rendition of the International Car Rental Show in Las Vegas had a rather sobering vibe to it. Much of the itinerary dealt with competing with the ride-sharing market and technology that would provide players with an edge.
Biometrics goes into practice
The idea of using facial and fingerprint recognition has the perception of being relegated to functions associated with top secret projects. But its commercial application was fully realized when Hertz introduced the technology at an Atlanta airport to speed bookings.
Revenues go up
Despite no shortage of external threats to the auto rental industry, financial reports indicated that all the major companies improved their performance in 2019. Revenues were up by 5.3 percent over the previous year, setting an industry record of nearly $31 million.
AI gets a bigger focus
Artificial intelligence made greater inroads into the car rental industry than ever before, helping companies extract huge clumps of raw data for top-level decision-making. But it’s been most effective in automated car inspections, a major efficiency boost in overall operations.
Bluebird also made a great deal of strides in 2020; here are a few highlights:
RentWorks becomes available as an app
Recognizing the industry trend towards mobile apps, Bluebird came out with RentWorks Mobile, designed for managers to perform tasks even faster and remotely. Since its introduction, the app has already been proven to create efficiencies in bookings and fleet management.
Bluebird partners with Zubie
The tandem between the two companies create a whole new range of possibilities with telematics technology. Once implemented, users can get more accurate GPS tracking information as well as more detailed data on vehicle performance.
Bluebird hooks up with CRX
This distribution partnership allows Bluebird clients to accept vehicle bookings from customers using travel websites like Kayak and Sky-Scanner. Customers also have access to real-time booking technology from anywhere in the world.
Here’s hoping 2020 is good to all of you!