Innovations in car rental for business travelers
Business travelers’ expectations are changing. They expect to be able to book and manage their business trips with the click of a button, in much the same way they manage their leisure travel. Car rental is no different.
The modern corporate traveler expects a seamless experience in and out of the car. We asked Donald Moore, senior VP of business rental sales and international tour at Enterprise Holdings, a series of questions about the role of technology in the car rental industry, and how it plays a pivotal role in matching the expectations of the modern business traveler. Moore also explained how the business model of car rental and ride-sharing are different and highlighted the solutions to many business travelers' needs.
What technological innovations are happening in the industry, and how is your partnership with Egencia helping you innovate?
The whole transportation and mobility industry is changing, much of it driven by technology. Whether that’s connected vehicles, artificial intelligence (AI), or eventually autonomous vehicles, we understand that business travelers have different priorities now. Some travelers want to save time; some want to save money. And some want to reduce the stress of their daily commute.
Our approach has always been to help customers find the best transportation options for them, on their terms — and now innovations and technology can offer more and better options. When we think about our future as a provider of transportation solutions, our focus is: How do we help people get from point A to point B and make the experience as easy and convenient for them as possible? For us, it starts with implementing technology, such as mobile apps, tablets, connected cars, and even AI – to make the choices easier for business travelers every day.
Our partnership with Egencia enables our mutual customers to achieve their global business travel program objectives. From access to a worldwide supply on the Egencia platform, while supporting duty of care, to streamlining the pickup and return process with Emerald club and e-receipts. Customers also have access to our National Car and Driver program, a chauffeur-driven car service in China. The well-versed account management team at Egencia is skilled at speaking to customers about the value that opportunities such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental can bring to their travel programs.
How has the business traveler evolved over the years, and how are you meeting their expectations?
Historically, we’ve always let customers’ needs and preferences determine which business models and technologies thrive in the market, allowing a pragmatic and market-driven solution to develop over time. But we also know our customers change and evolve. Some want a traditional experience, while others want a more modern experience.
Our LaunchPad, for example, digitizes rental transactions, eliminates rental counter admin tasks, and quickly delivers the kind of information that all of our customers are looking for on-site. But even these booking preferences change from car rental to car rental. We find our customers at their foundation want solutions, even if they don’t knowingly view it that way. That’s why our global network provides a comprehensive portfolio of car rental options and transportation solutions.
How do you manage your fleet to ensure the availability of cars at all times and locations, and deliver a good user experience?
Enterprise Holdings is the world’s largest car rental provider and an industry leader in mobility and tech. Through its independent regional subsidiaries and franchise partners, Enterprise Holdings operates the Enterprise, National, and Alamo car rental brands through more than 10,000 fully staffed neighborhood and airport offices in 100 countries and territories.
Every year, these branch offices collectively handle more than 70 million transactions worldwide and spend millions of dollars with local dealerships and vendors. This robust global network operates a fleet of two million vehicles, ensuring customers’ needs and demands are top of mind. Additionally, having this type of truly dynamic fleet enables and empowers our teams at the regional and local levels to optimize availability by shifting vehicles to meet the needs of our travelers.
So, when you talk about the scale and the ability to effectively meet consumer transportation needs long term, there is no other provider that matches Enterprise Holdings.
How important is it for global players to have a local supply strategy to take care of regional factors?
Decentralized autonomy has always been part of Enterprise’s culture. Founded in the US in 1957, the company operates the Enterprise, National, and Alamo brands through a network of more than 50 independent regional subsidiaries. These independent subsidiaries not only work with local vendors and small businesses but also make most of the key operational decisions at the grassroots level, with a strong entrepreneurial focus as well as a clear sense of local accountability and autonomy. This decentralized culture and decision-making let Enterprise Holdings stay focused on serving the local needs of each market and neighborhood, while still offering enough scale and financial strength to provide a total transportation solution for the long term.
Our partnership with Egencia enables our clients to leverage their global demand capacity and concurrently manage the unique dynamics of each account at a regional level. This approach ensures we exceed the customer’s expectations in each part of the world where they have ground transportation needs. Egencia is positioned to work with our teams in virtually every region of the world and make recommendations and adjustments to meet those requirements.
As highlighted in our Founding Values program, this is all part of how Enterprise Holdings strives to strengthen communities and drive economic impact – one neighborhood at a time. We purchase millions of dollars' worth of vehicles locally, generate tax dollars through sales and employment, create meaningful jobs that generate significant income and benefits for employees and their families, and offer sustainable transportation options.
In the rest of the world, Enterprise Holdings operates its portfolio of car rental brands through an integrated global network of independent regional subsidiaries and franchise locations throughout 100 countries and territories. This unique network – operating as a confederation of small businesses – helps the company remain nimble in today’s highly competitive car rental industry and stay a leader in the international travel industry.
What are the challenges being faced by the industry, and how are you positioning against them? For example, the emergence of ride-sharing players.
Scale and the ability to address consumer demands are both critical, and we keep these top of mind. We do this by working with the automotive industry to offer the right vehicles to address customers’ needs. Enterprise Holdings’ highly accessible network provides hourly, daily, and weekly car rentals as cost-effective and consumer-friendly modes of local transportation across thousands of communities.
As a total mobility provider, and an integral part of the automotive value chain, we serve the needs of a wide variety of businesses, consumers, government agencies, and organizations. As a result, Enterprise, National, and Alamo customers are logging more than 30 billion miles throughout the world every year.
The size and scale of Enterprise Holdings’ operations help to manage, and logistically place, the right vehicle at the right price. Because of that, we can offer different modes and models of transportation. If you look at ride-hailing, you’re in the vehicle for a very short period. Renting a car was never in your consideration set. In our rentals, you’re going to multiple places over multiple days. So, there’s little overlap between those two businesses.
Where do you see the industry in the next five years, and what new opportunities will there be?
We know that the customer wants to be in control of their travel experience and that it needs to be seamless, frictionless, and quick. This experience will be the norm, and technology will be critical. Partnering with Egencia has been a positive factor in both our continued growth strategy and delighting our mutual customers.
The Enterprise tablets also play a crucial role in our travel technology. When Enterprise introduced its LaunchPad tablets a few years ago, it responded to travelers who wanted to see the rental process streamlined and more efficient. The tablet technology has continued to evolve, and today the LaunchPad is transforming customer transactions by digitizing the process, providing real-time access to vehicle locations in the fleet, and giving travelers access to their vehicle when and where they need it. But it’s more than just the absence of a counter.
The connected car will lead an industry shift in the next few years. Enterprise Holdings is working with manufacturers to continue ramping up connected vehicle availability to its customers. We anticipate several hundred thousand in our fleet over the next two years — with the goal of having a fully connected fleet of two million vehicles, the largest in the world. Because of Enterprise Holdings’ global network, it’s the only company with the scale — vehicles, people, and locations — to take full advantage of the unprecedented potential this has for improving the customer experience. A connected fleet will put customers in control of their travel experience. And in the future, the technology could allow an Enterprise or National customer to rent a car with little or no assistance, depending on what they want.
The robust and unique technology platform from Egencia has connectivity with our brands. It enables customers to optimize their ground transportation needs efficiently, bringing together content, and delivering an end-user product that is innovative and impactful. Want to put your business travelers in the driving seat? Find out more about the benefits of car rental.