For a photo gallery of the 2012 Car Rental Show, click here.
What happened at the Car Rental Show in Las Vegas this year? Perhaps the question should be, “What didn’t happen?” For the 17th year, auto rental operators and their vendors made the pilgrimage to the desert to learn, network, educate, gain consensus, take stock of the here and now and prognosticate on the year ahead.
The industry is on solid ground post-Recession, and judging from the expanded show floor and new vendors, it’s clear that the auto rental business is good business.
But this year, the mood was different.
From the first-ever address by a national legislator to keynote presentations from the top of the industry, from the record number of international visitors to representation by all the major car rental companies in the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), the Car Rental Show has turned a corner as an event that represents the car rental industry in its entirety — and around the globe.
If you missed this year’s show, this show coverage won’t do it justice. You’ll have to wait and see for yourself in 2013, April 14-15, at the Car Rental Show’s new Las Vegas headquarters, The Rio.
Click to enlarge.
Get involved to fight excise taxes, challenges to the Graves Amendment.
The Congressman from the Sixth District of Missouri addressed the audience on how the historic Graves Amendment, which eradicated vicarious liability for rental and leasing companies, was passed in 2005.
In addition, Sam Graves, who is chair of the House of Representative’s Small Business Committee, posed the need for tax certainty, earmark reform and energy independence through the development of domestic fuel supplies. “We are an energy rich nation that acts like an energy poor nation,” he said.
Graves warned that we need to gain control of the regulatory environment. “Things that couldn’t get done through legislative authority are now being pushed through using regulatory authority,” such as through the likes of the EPA, OSHA and the Department of Labor, he said.
Graves also outlined a bill he co-authored that would eliminate car rental excise taxes on a federal level. The bill, HR 2469, is backed by ACRA as well.
Finally, Graves called on rental companies to become active in their political landscape. “Even if you’re a mom-and-pop shop, get involved,” he said. “You can’t complain if you don’t.”
The car rental industry is growing.
The Hertz Corp.’s chairman and CEO Mark Frissora outlined the current car rental landscape and showed where the growth opportunities are heading.
Frissora said the industry benefitted from the restructuring of the auto manufacturers and weathered the economic storm with higher levels of customer satisfaction, stronger balance sheets and financing structures.
He showed studies demonstrating that world travel will double by 2020 and U.S.-inbound international travel is projected to grow at a steady rate. He pointed to the fact that rental car revenue as a percentage of U.S. gross domestic product is growing. Hertz is seeing an increase in demand for sustainable travel, and the migration trend back into cities presents opportunities for new “total mobility solutions” and car sharing. Meanwhile, growth in local markets is driven by people who rent cars when they would have flown, he said.
Frissora gave us a peek into plans for China, saying that Hertz is looking to acquire a Chinese rental company. While chauffeured transportation in China has been the typical corporate model, he said that self-drive is spreading.