JUNE 2016 – Driving forces

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Dominated for many years by the big three rental firms, the buisness of car hire has become more interesting in recent times. Today’s agent has about 20 firms to choose from, and each has a unique attraction of interest to your client. First thing to point out is that the cheapest car hire deal may not necessarily be the best one for your client. Many will arrive in the agency concentrating solely on price. They can almost always save money and safeguard against expensive unexpected charges by going through a travel agent.

Point out that, with the help of an agent, charges are shown up front at the time the booking so consumers can make the right choice and compare prices easily. Going it alone offers no such safeguards. Tease out what they will need from their hire car – for example, how many passengers and bags do they need to fit into the vehicle? If they are travelling with children, they may want a family hire car with five doors while if they are travelling to a destination with high temperatures, air conditioning will be a priority. Don’t assume that they will pay the same price for identical extras with the same car hire company in different destinations. A car seat in Faro costs Eu20 more than in Nice. A satnav costs Eu40 more in Nice than in Faro.

Driving a rental vehicle abroad can be stressful and expensive if they don’t prepare. Get a check-list for your client: Check the driving licence is valid and make sure they have all parts of it together and ready to pack before they go away. And, well in advance, find out whether they’ll need an International Driving Permit (available form the AA) to drive where they are going. A credit card is necessary to leave a deposit at the rental desk. Research what is legally required to have in the car when they are driving in their destination and remind them to check these items are in the hire vehicle before they set off. Not having certain equipment, such as reflective jackets, can result in fines.

Remind them to get the emergency number from the rental company in case of a breakdown. Not knowing the driving laws – such as speed and drink driving limits – in the country they are visiting could result in inadvertently breaking the law. As you would at home, shop around for petrol when away and look out for competitive prices in local supermarkets and petrol stations rather than relying on motorway stations. Find out whether the vehicle runs on petrol or diesel as well as what the fuel is called where they are. Research common road signs in the country visited. Remembering to stick to the correct side of the road for the country they are in and being aware of road signs in a different language will help navigate around a new place without stress and worry. Warn about unexpected extra costs. Fuel is an increasingly prominent one.

Many car hire companies now have fuel empty policies where consumers are charged for a full tank of petrol when they pick up the car and told to return it empty with no refund for unused fuel. Consumer research has shown that unavoidable fuel charges can triple the price of a rental, turning what seemed like a good deal to potentially a very expensive one. When clients pick up their hire car with a full tank of petrol they are charged for it at a price set by the car rental company, not the local pump price which is almost always lower. They are then expected to return the car with an empty tank at the end of their rental period. So they are aware what the company’s policy is, check with it before booking, Some of the extras the client simply won’t want. Others are more obvious.

Car hire excess insurance (also known as excess waiver insurance) is useful to buy as it prevents having to pay any excess charges should their hire car be damaged or stolen. Many drivers who have had their fingers burnt will be wary of dropping this. This can add on as much as Eu45 a day. Excess insurance to bring their waiver costs to zero costs a typical Eu120 for a week but one company is charging Eu200 in Barcelona If they don’t take it they could be liable to pay a typical Eu2,000 if the car gets damaged or stolen or even more: one company’s starting excess in Faro is Eu3,000. Taking out excess waiver insurance here in Ireland rather than with their car supplier is generally cheaper. A standalone policy is significantly cheaper and gives they greater levels of cover and protection in case of accident or damage to their vehicle. If clients wait until they get to the rental desk to purchase this, they’re likely to be met by a pushy salesperson trying to an expensive policy. Standalone car policies are available at a better rate for the client and commissionable for the agent.

Clients travelling with children or needing to rely on a sat nav while they are can prevent steep daily rental charges by prebooking. Hiring a child’s car seat costs a typical Eu60. The most expensive was in Milan at Eu100. Borrowing a satnav typically costs around Eu75. It is most expensive at Eu120 from one company at Heathrow. If they already have a portable satnav, they can usually buy a card compatible with the country they are visiting to put in it. Alternatively, they can buy a new satnav that covers both Britain and Europe for around Eu50- Eu60. Adding an extra driver, particularly one under the age of 25, can raise the price of their car hire significantly in some cases more than the price of the actual hire. An extra driver over 25 costs around Eu60. This can vary: with one company in Barcelona they pay Eu90. Hertz won the Irish Travel Industry Award for 2013, succeeding the 2011 and 2012 champions Holiday Autos. They say they experienced excellent growth and positive feedback from trading partners throughout 2015 which continues into the start of These streets were made for driving Driving forces Car hire has changed beyond recognition 2016 and they plan for further integration with the travel trade to ensure that all agents have a point of contact here in Ireland that can deal with any queries promptly. Paul Manning says “we see the Travel Trade as a valued partner now more than ever as customers turn back to their local Agencies for advice and value that they can trust when reserving their travel arrangements.

Hertz also employs over 1,200 people in Ireland through their rental locations, head office in Wexford and our European Services Centre in Swords, as Paul Manning says, “making us your local Car Hire Company for the road ahead.” “We are humbled to have been voted Best Car Hire Provider and promise to respond to this accolade with further improvements and promotions throughout the year. “We are constantly striving to improve our products and services through initiatives such as Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Carfirmation, Hertz Collections and many other offerings which are all designed to make the car rental process faster, easier and more pleasant. With Hertz your customers can choose from premium on-airport locations to multiple downtown locations throughout the world, transparent rates with no catches, competitive one way fees and much more, giving you more options when making your car hire reservation.”

Internationally the big trend in the car hire market is the comeback of car-sharing after a false start ten years ago. The roadscape for car sharing was transformed when Zipcar and Flexcar merged to create a single brand in 2007. In 2011 Zipcar’s IPO valued the company at $1bn and the big boys started to sit up and take notice. Other companies are now contending that car-sharing can be the future of car rentals. In America, startups FlightCar and Hubber recruited airline passengers to make their own cars available for short-term rentals while they were out of town. Avis Budget paid $500m last year for leading car-share operator Zipcar and its 750,000 members. Hertz added self-service technology (Hertz 24/7) for hourly rentals to thousands of cars in its fleet. The service is now available in some 300 locations in six countries. Enterprise got into the act by combining several acquisitions to create Enterprise CarShare, and then acquired Zimride, which matches drivers with passengers online.

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