July 31, 2018

Vehicle-Rent: How technologies are disrupting the car rental industry

We sat down with Jan Starman, CEO of Vehicle-Rent to get their view on how the car-rental industry is taking shape, and shifting with the advent of new technologies and environmental challenges. 

Vehicle Rent offers a car hire service in more than 75 countries, at more than 4,500 different locations. They work with Alamo, Enterprise, Sixt, Hertz, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Buchbinder and many more and offer multi-language customer support 24/7, to ensure customers can reach them whenever they need them. 

What are the current trends shaping the car hire industry?

The car hire industry has come a long way in recent years, and continues to improve.  Car rental companies are constantly enhancing their processes through new technologies. The customer booking process, query response time, and transparency have been particular areas of focus. However, a lot of work still has to be done to provide the first-rate customer experience and service which are crucial to the car hire industry. One of the main challenges is streamlining the time-consuming process at the start of a car rental process. Additionally, we need to gather more information on how alternative payment methods can be used to enhance the customer experience. 

How do you think the industry will change in the next 3 – 6 years, and why?

As we have learned from the UBER scenario, trends come and go. More and more car companies nowadays offer car subscriptions and car-sharing – an alternative to buying and leasing. Both of these offerings are keeping rental companies on their toes. Which is a good thing, as it has pushed the industry to offer better, more advanced solutions. For example, we have started to see some companies introduce car hire by the hour. With car-sharing on the rise, car rental companies really need to find innovative ways to stay in the game. Only time will tell what the future holds.

Conversely, what do you think will stay the same?

There is nothing constant in this world, and nothing stays the same. Trends in car hire industry and increased demand with unending technology upgrades will constantly force providers to improve their offerings and keep up with trends.

What technologies do you see disrupting the industry in the next 3 – 6 years?

A wealth of digital networks, connected devices and smart cities are set to improve our daily lives – and enhance the car hire experience. Additionally, as currencies are being replaced by crypto, the cashless revolution is on its way. Travel companies as well as the car industry will need to evolve in line with the cashless revolution to ensure their share of the travel market. Thinking differently and getting creative in developing their own technology platforms and QR codes for e-wallet transactions is one way to approach this.

What technologies and disruptive approaches are you taking?

To stay ahead, we will need to reduce the friction at the point of payment. Introducing an e-wallet payment into the process with a mobile app is one way to do this. AI is another segment that we are focusing on. With big data analysis and predicting customer preferences, we will be able to provide tailor-made offers and unique and exceptional customer experience.

How do you think that mobile will change the way the industry operates?

With the rise of mobile, we have seen more and more people trying to avoid increasing registration fees, high taxes on motor vehicles, regular servicing and insurance fees through the use of public transportation (which mobile has made more accessible) or car-sharing. However, for now, these companies are just a different financial model. If we adapt to trends and technologies, car rental companies don’t have anything to worry about.

What are the biggest challenges that the industry is facing?

The biggest challenge the car hire industry is facing is the increase in oil prices. Whilst it is true that the car rental companies cannot influence or change this, investing in new technologies – specifically the green vehicle – could help companies to reduce their costs over time. As well as providing an ‘out’ for higher oil prices, they could also help in countries with high emission taxes etc. 

How do you think these challenges can be addressed?

To win in the future, car rental companies need to act smart and eco-friendly. Starting on this journey now, and being part of the green movement is not just good for the bottom line – it can also act as a unique selling point for businesses looking to tap into eco user segments. More and more rental companies are going green not just to remain relevant in the future, but also to highlight their social responsibility.

What do you see as a main competitive advantage of Vehicle Rent and Car Target Group? 

In 2017 Car Target Group made a big progress towards improvement of quality of service. Based on feedback from customers, collected through Net Promotor Score and at other touchpoints of customer journey, we have initiated several initiatives, driving better customer experience. We are continuously improving our supplier mix, and together with very competitive pricing, we are able to generate strong growth. Despite all the industry changes, the customer experience will remain the main driver of future growth. And will remain the main focus of Car Target Group going forward.

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