Real innovation in car rental is very similar to the Hare and Tortoise tale, however in this metaphor the Tortoise never actually finishes the race. In other words its slow. We see some companies start to sell new products like GPS units and recently tablets but real innovation is very rare.
Most car hire USA companies point to their websites for innovation but for me the majority are missing a trick by not reinventing the pick up location. How and where the customer collects their vehicle from hasn’t changed in decades, its the usual, turn up at a desk in the airport or off airport, get in the queue, stand there until its your go.
When we speak to our customers or read their reviews the number one gripe is queuing. Most expect a slight queue but after sitting on a plane for 8 hours a car rental queue of 20 minutes can feel like 20 hours…
How I would change the pick up location
Now this wouldn’t work for every location, but for some of the larger offices it would leave a lasting impression. Abandon the queue system as we know!
Yep I know it sounds impossible but here’s what I’m thinking, at Disney they operate something called a FastPass system, this system allows for virtual queuing, basically you run your ticket through a machine and it gives you a time slot to return the ride, giving you the freedom to explore the rest of the park, eliminating the need to queue.
Rental car companies could operate this similar to a number at a deli counter, freeing up the customer to explore. At the same time you could issue rental agreements so the customer has time to fully read and understand their terms, you could offer this online to match rental agreement to tour market.
But what’s to explore at a car rental location?
Well this is where locations need to think outside the box a little, car rental companies are not solely reliant upon the initial hire fee, they offer additional extra’s like Sat Nav’s, tablets and additional insurances, why couldn’t they display these in a kind of shop environment, allowing customers to browse these add on’s without the need for hard sell?
Why not give customers safe access to the car parks where the suppliers could show off some of their fleet including specific spec in a way that might tempt the waiting customer in to upgrading or at least enquiring about it?
I’ve heard of a few locations, mainly Hertz ran which offer customer the chance to charge up their phones etc at charging stations. I think this is a great idea and goes that little bit further to adding goodwill.
An area where the kids could play or even a shop where the supplier could sell car related items like maps, driving gloves that sort of thing.
When you’re up
When you’re number is up or you mobile is buzzed to let you know its time to collect your rental, you could easily take anything you’ve decided to purchase up with you, which is scanned on to your rental agreement. Seems pretty easy.
With USA car rental dominated by just 3 companies its time for 1 of them to step up and offer the customer something totally different.