Car Hire USA in 2010 Reviewed

Hi All,

We are a few weeks in to 2010 now and the USA car hire picture for this year is beginning to take shape. I thought this might be an ideal time to blog about my thoughts on 2009 and the possible goings on in 2010.

Car Availability

The same as last year I’m afraid, demand exceeds supply. The problem isn’t as bad as it is in Europe but companies with the biggest fleets will use their yield intelligently to maximise profits which may see the introduction of peak season surcharging. In December 2009, over Christmas I know that certain suppliers were charging over $400.00 per week for an Economy vehicle!

Alamo

At first glance the Alamo/National/Enterprise Company seem the best equipped for 2010, they have the largest and youngest fleet. They remain firmly in the driving seat (excuse the pun) of the rental market, this was very apparent when they were the first to come out with rates for 2010, setting the bench mark for others to follow.

2009 was a very strong year for Alamo; they seem to have a very good balance between pricing and customer care, possibly the Enterprise influence beginning to take effect.

Customer services wise we saw big improvement from Alamo, their turn around rate in most circumstances was much quicker than the industry standard of 28 days. Disappointingly we did see a rise in complaints regarding Alamo agents trying to sell additional extras, the best tip I can offer is refuse everything locally and always read your rental agreement before you sign it. 

Dollar

Dollar Rent A Car has also invested in some new vehicles, so their Fleet will be a mixture of new and old. We have received the expected price increase from Dollar and at present I can’t see them breaking in to our top two suppliers list. 

Last year was very tricky for the Dollar/Thrifty group, they had to save money and one way they did this was by extending the length of time they kept hold of their fleet. Although they posted healthy q3 results the expense I believe was at the cost of customer care. I cannot remember another example of where their customer services have been so slow to react. I can easily say they have been the poorest by far in 2009. We have received reassurances that these errors have been rectified and with Dollars good track record I see no reason to doubt we will see an improvement in 2010.

Budget

Budget had a very slow start to 2009. They seem to always take a bit of a back seat and see how the market pans out. Q3 and 4 were a lot stronger for Budget and they have continued this trend in too 2010. Although I predict a price increase some time in late Feb. maybe march 2010.

Customer services wise they have improved year on yea and are slowly ironing out the little errors that frustrate us all.

Overall

 

2009 was an extremely hard year for all industries, I believe the talk of recovery is slightly premature and the car hire industry will take probably one more year to full recover.

 

I am very optimistic for 2010 and on a positive note we are already up on last years figures. In February we hope to roll out version 2 of our booking engine with additional features including a first in our sector. We have had several strategy meetings that have ended with some very interesting and encouraging results, so fingers crossed our 8th year of trading will be even more successful than the last.

regards,

Gavin

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