J.D. Power and Associates: Rental Car Industry Improves in Customer Satisfaction

Travelers renting cars at airport locations record significantly higher customer satisfaction levels with rental car companies than they did in 2005, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Rental Car Satisfaction Study released Nov. 14.

Now in its eleventh year, the study finds that customer satisfaction with rental car companies has improved 23 index points on a 1,000-point scale—representing a 3-percent improvement from 2005. Improvements are recorded in all six factors used to determine overall satisfaction: costs and fees, pick-up process, rental car, return process, reservation process and shuttle bus/van. Furthermore, all eight companies included in the rankings record year-over-year improvements.

Enterprise ranks highest in customer satisfaction among rental car companies for a third consecutive year, receiving an overall index score of 789—a 21-point improvement from 2005. Enterprise is followed in the rankings by Hertz and National, respectively.

The study also finds the following key rental customer patterns:

  • Only 29 percent of customers waited to pick up their rental car—a 15 percentage-point improvement from 2005. However, the average time it takes to pick up the rental car is 21.5 minutes this year. Overall satisfaction drops below the industry average with any wait time that exceeds five minutes.
  • Customers are increasingly renting full-size and sport utility vehicles. While the vast majority of vehicles rented are mid-size cars (42 percent) or compact cars (14 percent), the rental share of full-size cars has increased 5 percentage points to 12 percent, while sport utility vehicles has increased 3 percentage points to 11 percent.
  • The Internet continues as the method of choice when making reservations. Overall, 69 percent of customers reserve a vehicle online—42 percent at the rental car company Web site, 21 percent at an independent travel Web site and 6 percent through a corporate self-booking site.

    The 2006 Rental Car Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 4,133 business and leisure travelers who rented a vehicle at an airport location between January and October 2006. For more information, visit http://www.jdpower.com/travel/ratings/rental_cars/index.asp.

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