How to Thrive in the New Car Rental Landscape

Has there been a more tumultuous year in the car rental industry than 2009? Gas prices peaked and car rental companies scrambled to meet demand for small cars. Then the credit crisis dried up funding and drove up the cost of money.

Next, travel demand dropped off the cliff with the rest of the economy. Add to that two OEM bankruptcies, factory shutdowns and a prolonged recession. Forced to hold onto cars longer and tighten fleets, car rental companies started realizing higher rates and more revenue per unit, and a lack of wholesale supply improved resale values.

The economy compelled RACs to trim the fat and analyze business processes. RACs started making money renting cars again. In the wake of these changes, a new business model is emerging. The program car concept is dying. OEM fleet mix is changing. Financing companies shuffle as RACs look for new ways to fund. Technology continues to level the playing field between the majors and independents.

So where do you stand? Do you have the latest purchasing and remarketing skills? Are you prepared for a new round of $4 gas? Do you know how to apply the latest automation processes to your fleet? Can you maintain a high level of customer service with less staff? Are your credit lines safe?

The 2010 Car Rental Show is designed to answer these questions and give you the tools to prevail in this post-recession business climate. Themed “Right Size, Right Now,” the Car Rental Show (CRS) will take place at the Las Vegas Hilton on April 20-21. Are you ready to head to Las Vegas to take advantage of new opportunities?

Keynotes Tackle Big Picture Challenges The CRS keynote presentations and general sessions tackle the big picture challenges and hot-button issues driving the industry today. Jeffrey Cerefice of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group (DTG) will deliver the opening keynote address.

Cerefice oversees global licensee operations for both Dollar and Thrifty brands as well as the administration of DTG’s entire U.S. fleet. Cerefice’s keynote will draw on his more than 35 years of experience in the car rental industry. His address, “Successfully Navigating the New Car Rental Environment,” will guide car rental operators through the unprecedented challenges the industry faces today and offer insight into a sustainable future.

Following this presentation, car rental industry analyst John Healy of Northcoast Research will lead a panel discussion from Wall Street’s perspective. Executives from national and regional car rental companies and other industry practitioners, such as members of auction houses, online travel agencies and rental fleet financiers, will join Healy to discuss the capital market’s outlook and new growth strategies being adopted by car rental companies.

The experts at Eckhaus Fleet, one of the largest independent fleet distributors in the country, will present a “hands-on” keynote on fleet management. The Eckhaus panel will share tips on product availability, how to order in advance, keep the right fleet mix balance, plan for seasonal demand and sharpen your remarketing skills.

The American Car Rental Association has assembled a “think tank” of experts from different facets of the auto rental and travel industries to examine the no-show issue. This session will analyze no-shows from a policy, management, IT, marketing and customer service perspective. The panel will examine ways to overcome roadblocks to no-show fee implementation and develop a path to gain industry-wide consensus.

Industry legal expert and longtime CRS presenter Michael LaPlaca will discuss the latest in legal precedents reshaping the industry, including recent challenges to the Graves Amendment, negligent maintenance claims and how to properly deal with unauthorized drivers. Wednesday’s closing keynote presents the state of the automotive industry from the manufacturers’ perspective. Panelists from domestic and foreign OEMs will provide insight into auto rental fleet sales, changes in model mix, new model offerings, build-out dates, residual value projections and more.

CONTINUED:  How to Thrive in the New Car Rental Landscape
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