ACRA Works — And I've Seen It

Since I have been in the auto rental industry for more than 40 years, you would think that I have seen it all. I have seen and experienced a great deal and have been involved with the American Car Rental Association (ACRA) since its inception in 1978 as a member, board member, and participant.

What interests me the most is not the history but the evolution of the organization, especially the current strength with which ACRA and its members are approaching its mission to provide a unified voice in support of the industry’s overall health.

The communication of major and independent rental companies — as well as vendors whose interests are aligned with industry growth — has never been more focused and professional in addressing the current and long-term issues that help influence our mutual benefit.

All of us in the business are aware of the tactical issues facing day-to-day operations in an often seven days a week, 24 hour a day, 365 day a year enterprise. This enterprise can face hurricanes, tornados, and blizzards as a matter of course. We also deal with operational and financial storms regularly — from recalls to interest rate fluctuations to an ever-changing technology environment.

As I have thought many times throughout the years, you have to be a little crazy to be in this business, and yet once you are in the business, you can’t stay away from it. With all the challenges, it is a tremendous benefit that there is an organization representing the shared concerns and long-term health of our industry in a cogent and professional way. ACRA allows the individual member to stay informed and involved if he or she chooses.

ACRA’s 4th Annual D.C. Legislative Conference was held Sept. 11 to 13 in Washington, D.C. It included a board of directors meeting, a general session with attendees, several industry suppliers, and speakers, as well as a day on Capitol Hill meeting with legislators and staff.

During the last four years, what has changed is the level of attention and access that ACRA has developed and the interaction it now has with other industry associations and legislators themselves.

As successful as the conference was, the work of ACRA, the board, and staff doesn’t just take place in a singular meeting in Washington. ACRA has ongoing efforts in every state, including fighting pending legislation that could have negative consequences on our industry if we don’t keep vigilant and let our voices be heard.

Again, what has changed is the level of professionalism of our members and their staff as well as the cooperation and communication with mutual respect.

With all the changes in the transportation world such as mobility solutions, autonomous vehicles, peer-to-peer, and data ownership, this is the time to do your homework on the opportunity and value of ACRA. Take advantage of membership and involvement where challenges faced in this competitive business are being addressed. For more information, visit www.acraorg.com.

ACRA’s Mission

What is ACRA’s purpose? The association is dedicated to the betterment of the motor vehicle rental industry by supporting and promoting sensible legislation that will benefit all its members.

“It is essential that all matters impacting our industry are exposed, tracked, understood, documented, and publicized,” states ACRA’s mission statement.

To this end, ACRA has three goals. The first is to educate association members about vehicle rental industry developments and operations through seminars, workshops, newsletters, and other communications.

The second is to edit and publish legislative reports and analyses of developments in federal, state, and local laws that affect the vehicle rental industry. The third is to produce presentations from governmental officials, industry analysts, and consumer advocates on matters of interest to the vehicle rental industry and its consumers.

ACRA strives to provide appropriate services to association members to meet these goals.

About the Author

William N. (Bill) Plamondon III is ACRA’s vice president and sits on the board of directors for Advantage Rent a Car. He founded R.I. Heller & Company LLC, served as president and CEO of ANC Rental Corp., the parent company of Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental, and was CEO of First Merchants Acceptance Corp. He began his career at Budget Rent a Car in 1978 in franchise development and served in executive roles until Budget was sold in 1997.

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