The inaugural Car Rental Show, then called the Auto Rental News show, was held in 1996 at The Mirage in Las Vegas. This year marks the show's 20th anniversary.
It wasn’t too long ago — 2009 to be exact — that the Car Rental Show (CRS) started on Monday afternoon and ended on Tuesday before dinner. Times have changed. CRS has doubled in size since 2009, and this year’s CRS offers the most programming in its history.
In conjunction with the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), the 2015 International Car Rental Show will be “officially” held April 13 and 14, though the event kicks off in the afternoon of Sunday April 12 and will continue through Wednesday April 15 until 1 p.m.
The Car Rental Show has been renamed the International Car Rental Show, reflecting its place as the only convention that serves the entire car rental community on a global scale. Attendees from more than 30 countries regularly attend CRS.
Yet with this name change, it’s important to note that the percentage of international attendees has only grown by a few percentage points compared to U.S. participation — in other words, CRS has grown equally with U.S.-based operators, as well.
This year, CRS makes a new hotel its home, Bally’s Las Vegas. Located in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip, Bally’s not only offers a plethora of dining and entertainment options, but the majority of the Strip is a walk away. CRS attendees will stay in the newly renovated Jubilee Tower at Bally’s and can also book a room at its sister property, Paris Las Vegas, connected by a walkway.
Opening Keynote Panel
In a departure from the single-presenter keynote format of previous years, the 2015 CRS will convene a blue-ribbon panel designed to offer a holistic view of the auto rental industry in the U.S. today.
Representing the essential disciplines in the industry, panelists will discuss the key drivers of today’s market, including fleet acquisitions and disposal, operational issues, franchise and manufacturer relations, legislative challenges and more.
The 2001 Car Rental Show was held at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas.
Convening on Monday April 13 at 10 a.m., the opening keynote panel comprises Susan Lombardo, vice president vehicle acquisition at Enterprise Holdings; Greg Thibault, vice president fleet disposal at Avis Budget Group; Bob Barton, vice president leisure brands & franchise operations RAC Americas – Hertz Global Holdings; Joe Knight, vice president, business development, Fox Rent-A-Car Inc.; and Caroline Costello, senior manager – large daily rental sales at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Unprecedented on the CRS stage, the keynote panel presents to attendees a rare opportunity to understand the dynamics shaping the industry today, from not only three of the largest auto rental companies, but also an independent and franchise perspective — and a manufacturer’s view of the market, as well.
Content, Content, Content
With a total of 19 presentations, nine networking opportunities and seven hours of exhibit hall interaction, the 2015 event will provide attendees with the most content in the Car Rental Show’s 20-year history.
Seminar topics address solutions to the most pressing issues faced by car rental operators today. This year’s topics include best practices on handling legal claims, surviving a market’s bottom feeder, valuing your business for sale, limiting rental fleet liability, assessing incremental sales, understanding the new GDS landscape and managing negative online reviews, among other topics.
The 2015 CRS introduces a new format to deliver information and ideas in quick, mini seminars. These “lightning rounds” will take place in two concurrent seminar blocks, where eight topics (four per room) will be presented in 15-minute intervals. Topics include how to present your business to a lender, using retail detail incentives in fleet procurement and mitigating traffic violation costs.
Congressman Sam Graves, author of the federal Graves Amendment that abolished unlimited vicarious liability, speaks at the 2012 Car Rental Show.
As part of its international focus, CRS will hold two cross-border seminars: One will demonstrate how international operators can draw more car rental business from North America while the other will show North American operators how business connections can be made globally.
International groups will also have a meeting place for an hour on Monday morning to mingle with vendors and domestic car rental companies interested in meeting them.
Addressing the Future
This year’s CRS will have a special focus on the future of car rental. Moderated by Alan Woodland of the CarSharing Association, “The Convergence of Car Sharing and Car Rental” general session will bring representatives from the major players in car sharing to the stage to understand the car-sharing market, in what ways both models can learn from each other and how similar technology is driving both into the future.
The closing keynote address will also take on the panel format, with a discussion on car rental and its place in the future of transportation. This think tank from different areas of transportation will discuss emerging modes of mobility, such as ride sharing, how the sharing economy is affecting transportation, trends in business and leisure travel and how technology is transforming the car rental process.
CRS is privileged to have a delegation from ACRISS (the European Association of Car Rental Industry System Standards) deliver the Tuesday morning breakfast address. ACRISS will bring its mandate to provide standardized codes for car classifications in Europe to a North American and global audience.
(L-R) Jim Bascom, Brian Aprati, Randy Harris and Ziad Khoury, all from Khoury Consulting, stand in front of their showroom booth at the 2006 show.
This year ACRA invites a special guest speaker, Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League (NCL). Greenberg’s message from the NCL will put in perspective the consumer’s point of view as it relates to car rental, specifically regarding the detrimental effect of predatory excise taxes.
Reaching New Segments
To address the growing demands of auto dealerships in regards to in-house car rental, CRS presents a new dealer rental block of programming on the afternoon of Monday April 13. Exclusive to auto dealers, this track will demonstrate the basic tenets of a successful dealer rental operation as well as key pillars and misconceptions to dealer rental profitability.
Drawing off the success of last year’s inaugural meeting, the programming block specific to Latin American attendees will once again take place on Wednesday morning after the show.
“El reunión de Agencias de Alquiler de Autos de Latinoamérica” will provide tips and best practices on how to increase profitability and how to face the specific challenges of operating a car rental business in this region. The meeting will be conducted in Spanish and English.
Looking Back, and Forward
(L-R) Kevin Miles of Budget Columbus, Anne Taylor of AirIQ, Michael Towers of Fleet Financial Corp., and Thrifty licensee Sharon Faulkner receive outstanding achievement awards.
The first CRS — then called the Auto Rental News Show — attracted 525 car rental operators and vendors to the Mirage in Las Vegas in 1996. Dave (J.D.) Power was the keynote speaker. In 1999, the event name was changed to the Car Rental Show and attracted 1,000 attendees.
In 2001, the Car Rental Show was held less than a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, yet still drew 900 participants. In the latter half of the decade, CRS survived the worst Recession since the Great Depression.
With an anticipated 100 exhibitors and sponsors in 2015, along with more than 800 expected attendees from across the globe, the International Car Rental Show has not only survived by addressing the needs of today’s operators, but it will also prevail with a global view to the future.
The speakers for this year's opening keynote panel.