Mobile Technology Streamlines the Rental Process

Accessing TSD's software app with a mobile-friendly tablet, this Dollar Thrifty Austin rental agent can complete a rental transaction at the vehicle.
Accessing TSD's software app with a mobile-friendly tablet, this Dollar Thrifty Austin rental agent can complete a rental transaction at the vehicle.

With technology continuing to move toward wireless and mobility, rental agents are completing rental transactions from a mobile device — reducing wait time and improving the customer experience throughout the rental process.

“When it comes to the car rental world, it’s all about a quick return and trying to avoid having customers stand in line to return their vehicle,” says Lori Tennant, director of strategic alliances at TSD, which provides car rental software and technology to independent, franchise and corporate rental companies. “Even if you are fast at the counter, if the customer has to go inside, you won’t be seen as forward-thinking.”

Upgrading Technology

One of TSD’s clients, Clearwater Transportation, an Austin, Texas-based Dollar Thrifty licensee, switched to TSD’s mobile app technology about a year ago. Prior to the present system, Clearwater used proprietary hand-held devices for check-ins, says Rene Mitchell, director of administration and technology for Clearwater Transportation.

Costing up to $12,000 for the first handheld unit, the proprietary devices could only be used for rental returns and had to be configured to receive an Internet signal from an access point. Looking to save money and update its technology, Clearwater was ready to switch to a more universal system with Wi-Fi capabilities, says Mitchell.

“We were tired of the maintenance and non-universal ability of the [older] devices,” says Mitchell. “It was a really expensive way to process returns and we were having issues with the access point signals.”

Initially interested in iPad and iPhone devices, Clearwater decided against Apple products since Apple was compatible with only certain printers. Instead, Mitchell’s team ended up choosing a Windows-based tablet by Motion Computing with a magnetic strip and barcode reader for $1,800 apiece and Bluetooth-enabled portable printers for $600 each.

“We chose the Motion tablet for its durability and its ability to handle the elements,” says Mitchell.

CONTINUED:  Mobile Technology Streamlines the Rental Process
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