Some 800 attendees convened at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas from April 7-8 for the 2014 Car Rental Show, a doubling of attendance since 2009. Photo credit: Jann Hendry.
Designed as the global marketplace for the car rental industry, the 2014 Car Rental Show (CRS) drew some 800 attendees from North America and overseas.
International attendees represented 33 countries, including China, Korea, Japan, South Africa, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, United Arab Emirates and countries across Europe.
Held in partnership with the American Car Rental Association (ACRA) at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas from April 7-8, this year’s conference — now in its 19th year — featured an expanded agenda and exhibit hall, year-over-year growth in attendance and a solid international presence.
“From the growth in exhibitors to the growth in registrations — both domestic and international — the Car Rental Show has cemented itself as the focal point for the car rental industry,” said Chris Brown, executive editor of Auto Rental News. “The health of the show speaks to the health of the industry.”
EHI’s Farrell: Mobile Technology Driving Change
Pat Farrell, the chief marketing and communications officer for Enterprise Holdings, gave the conference’s keynote address.
In “The Future of Auto Rental: From Global to Local,” Farrell noted that the car rental industry is experiencing major change from such factors as new technologies and evolving consumer preferences. He cited changes in customer preferences due to new digital and mobile technology as the largest driver of change — and opportunity — in the industry.
“Technology — from the Internet, to social media, to mobile platforms — has truly put the consumer in control,” he said. “The better we use these avenues, the stronger our customer loyalty and relationships will be.”
Farrell stressed the need for the industry to keep adapting and evolving:
“I can still remember when car rental was strictly an on-airport proposition. Today, the off-airport category is equally relevant. It began with insurance replacement. Then it evolved to consumer direct business and people renting cars in their hometown for day-to-day needs. And now it’s a multibillion dollar category. It’s all about meeting consumer mobility needs. Car sharing — or hourly car rental — is just another innovation in an innovative industry … and just one more way for us to serve our customers.”
Farrell also called attention to issues that threaten the industry’s future growth and viability. Farrell noted that every state now has some type of excise tax on car rentals, and that car renters have paid billions in car rental excise taxes at the state, county or municipal level.
“We object to the excessive and undue burden of excise taxes that single out our customers to carry a disproportionate share of the funding burden for local projects such as sports stadiums, arenas and art museums. Taxes should be fair and just and should not single out customers of just one industry,” he said.
Farrell concluded by summing up the opportunity ahead: “The car rental industry meets people’s very real, important and urgent needs. There is a true purpose and honor in what we do. Our world will continue to change. Innovation will drive growth, technology will drive growth and customer preferences will drive growth. Whether we — as individual companies or an industry — succeed or fail will come down to one simple thing: how we deal with each customer.”
In Tuesday morning’s breakfast keynote, Dr. Craig Manning, author and Olympic sports psychology consultant, recounted his experiences as a consultant to gold medal-winning teams at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Manning gave attendees a taste of his Fearless Mind methodology, designed around the psychological principles of the mind to help maximize human efficiencies.
“When we think the right way, research has shown that we are 2.91 times more efficient,” said Manning. “High productivity equals potential plus training, minus mental interference. The weakest can maximize their potential in a positive culture and environment.”