I just flew in from Ireland, and boy is my brain tired. The occasion was CarTrawler’s Car Rental Awards, the perfect venue to take stock of the auto rental scene outside North America. On the plane ride home my mind was swimming with the notion that we must view auto rental in the context of the global marketplace.
The intelligence gathering at the event ranged from talk of global business in general to auto rental specific. I was schooled on the paternalistic phrase “emerging markets.” You can call them growth markets, but no longer “emerging.” They’ve already arrived.
Ironically, India is now looking over its shoulder at newer outsource providers in eastern European countries that are building call centers at the right price and matching the customer service in more friendly time zones. But that now means we have to watch our backs, as India graduates into our territory of IT experts and content developers.
Now to auto rental: Franchise systems — and the spirit of the independent operator — are alive and well in the global marketplace, and growing. The largest Hertz franchise is not in the U.S., but in Greece. Hertz Autohellas has a fleet of 27,000 units in 115 locations and has been in business for almost 50 years. Europcar South Africa runs 16,000 vehicles across six countries.
In Poland, independents like Express, with a fleet of 4,000 vehicles, are giving the majors a run for their money. In Croatia, Last Minute Rent a Car grew a fleet of 40 cars to 700 in only a few years.
“Out there” a holistic offering of transportation solutions is thriving with companies such as Maggiore in Italy, which offers traditional rentals, commercial leases, long-term rentals and chauffeur services under one roof.
It’s where green initiatives are making business sense. Citer, an Alamo National franchisee in France, already has a fleet of 180 electric cars on rent. U.K.-based Green Motion is using London’s congestion charging to its advantage by renting hybrids and saving their customers on the daily fees. Launched but four years ago, Green Motion beat the likes of Enterprise and Hertz for the U.K.’s Rental Company of the Year in the 2009 Green Fleet Awards.
And the smaller independents, such as Guerin Car Rental in Portugal, are leveling the playing field without cumbersome legacy IT systems and using cleaner XML messaging to connect with travel portals.
We must increasingly look to these markets for innovation and information as they look to Auto Rental News for major rental company news and business best practices. And so we launch Global Reporter, our new e-newsletter that speaks to — and takes direction from — the global auto rental market.
To our vendor partners or potential partners, if your company is global in reach or you’re looking into growth markets, we encourage you to utilize Global Reporter as a channel to reach those new customers.
And to our readers from all over the world: Global Reporter, along with Auto Rental News, can be your source of news, market intelligence analysis and how-to articles.
Please email me at [email protected] your newsworthy items, article ideas and comments on what you’d like to see.
Yeah, yeah, the global car rental industry may not be on your everyday radar as you’re all busy renting to local customers, working local deals and selling at the auction down the street. But, auto rental already is global. If you think about it these days, what industry isn’t?