County Car Rentals' business consists of 65 percent tourism, 20 percent local and repeat and 15 percent replacement, says Bernard Loughran (pictured), the company's founder and managing director. The company generates most of its business on the Web, through its own Web site, wholesale booking channels and as an affiliate of ACE Rent A Car.
In this and future issues, Auto Rental News travels abroad to discover how car rental companies operate in other parts of the world while we get the scoop on international car rental markets.
In this edition, ARN talks to Bernard Loughran, managing director of County Car Rentals in Dublin, Ireland, about his company's business model and the challenges to renting cars on the Emerald Isle.
■ ARN: How did the company start?
BL: County Car Rentals was founded by my father in 1953 as a small part of a car dealership in Dublin. Realizing the potential of tourism into Ireland, I spun off my father's car rental operation and expanded it to become the largest independent Irish car rental operation with a fleet of 600 vehicles.
■ Where are your locations?
County Car Rentals has concentrated its five rental locations in the greater Dublin Area, including an in-terminal desk in Dublin Airport, where more than 80 percent of Ireland's tourists arrive. County also has depots in Cork, Limerick and Dun Laoghaire Ferry port. These locations serve the local and replacement market.
■ Where does your business come from?
County Car Rental's business consists of 65 percent tourism, 20 percent local and repeat and 15 percent replacement.
The majority of our tourism business is generated through the Web. County's own Web site (www.countycar.com) generates 10 percent of this business. County is the Irish licensee of ACE Rent A Car, which gives the company access to the most popular Internet portals. ACE bookings are mainly generated from North America.
Wholesale Internet sites, including the Irish wholesaler Cartrawler, generate 65 percent of our Internet business.
Significant offline business also comes from travel agents and wholesalers in Australia and New Zealand, and in Europe from travel agents in Italy, Germany and Austria.
■ What does the car rental market in Ireland look like?
Ireland's tourism season peaks sharply in July and August. County typically requires a 65-percent fleet increase for this period, only to rapidly de-fleet in September. Outside of this peak, local and replacement business is important.
Pricing is very competitive and has resulted in companies expanding to gain economies of scale. There are now only nine car rental companies serving the Irish market, compared with more than 50 a decade ago. This over expansion has resulted in two companies going into financial examinership and restructurings (similar to Chapter 11).
County/ACE competes with one European and seven major U.S. car rental companies in Dublin.