Senior management at car rental companies must have thick skins. How else could they cope with the constant barrage of negative articles in the press and the myriad of online comments that swirl around social media?
This time of year brings a fresh outbreak of car hire horror stories as holidaymakers find out – the hard way – about all schemes these companies can employ to extract more money from them. This year they were accused of targeting skiers with additional ‘winterisation’ charges.
So we were heartened – and intrigued – to read about a new business start up that might give these car rental companies something to think about. Car and Away has persuaded Gatwick Airport that it should be the first airport to offer a peer-to-peer car rental scheme that allows people to rent out their vehicles to others while they’re away traveling. The idea behind it is that scheme members can leave their car at the airport and other scheme members can collect it and use it whilst the renter is away.
What’s cute here is that both parties benefit. One party doesn’t have to pay excessive parking fees while they are away and the other doesn’t have to pay excessive car rental fees for the short time they need a car.
Small vehicle owners can expect to earn up to £80 per week in rental income, while owners of larger cars can expect to earn up to twice that amount which certainly pays for a hot meal and drink whilst onboard the aircraft.
According to the start up’s founder and CEO Andy Hibbert, he said, “We’re all used to, and comfortable with, the sharing economy so, sharing a car while people go away isn’t such a big step”. He has a point and Airbnb’s dramatic rise to success does bear this out so we wish him well.
Although we do hope that he has taken into account the impact that small children can have on a vehicle, an impact that sometimes can defy any amount of valeting! The car hire companies can no doubt advise him on how to charge for that.