Industry Converges on 2013 Car Rental Show in Las Vegas

With an expanded agenda and exhibit hall, year-over-year growth in attendance, strong international representation and new auto manufacturer memberships in ACRA, the auto rental industry converged on Las Vegas this week to attend the 18th annual Car Rental Show.

Attendees take in one of 20 seminar opportunities.
Attendees take in one of 20 seminar opportunities.

“The Car Rental Show continued its phenomenal growth this year in every area,” said Chris Brown, executive editor of Auto Rental News. “This speaks to the health of the industry. Not only are the major car rental companies solidly profitable, but the franchisees and independents — out in force at the show – are thriving in this strong overall market.”

International attendance was once again robust, with some 30 countries represented, from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico to England, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Korea and New Zealand. This year, the Car Rental Show hosted a delegation from the China Road Transport Association, made up of car rental, commercial and government fleet leasing, transportation, and auto manufacturing companies.

“Our international attendees are now an integral part of the Car Rental Show,” Brown said. “In addition to providing relevant programming for overseas operators, we have an increasing number of exhibitors who are keen to reach car rental operators outside of the U.S. and we’re creating every opportunity to facilitate those connections.”

The American Car Rental Association (ACRA) is experiencing commensurate growth. During last year’s CRS, ACRA announced that all the major car rental companies had become members. This year, ACRA announced new memberships for these auto manufacturers: Nissan/Infiniti, Toyota Motor Sales USA, Subaru of America Inc., Chrysler Group LLC, Mazda and General Motors.

The gang at TSD, one of 42 exhibitors at this year's Car Rental Show.
The gang at TSD, one of 42 exhibitors at this year's Car Rental Show.

Bud Denker of the Penske Corporation delivered the opening keynote. Denker gave attendees insights into Penske’s divisions, which generated $19 billion in total revenues in 2012, as well as a look into Penske’s unique corporate culture.

“Our strategy is to recruit the best human capital, represent world class brands in the best locations, invest in premium facilities to attract customers and foster repeat and referral business to drive growth,” said Denker. “Effort equals results. We don’t luck into opportunities; we plan ahead, strategize and find opportunities.”

Denker said that the company’s sixth-month old division, Penske Car Rental, a Hertz franchise, will leverage existing dealer locations and help to satisfy the gap for more quality pre-owned units.

Wagner Wins Bruno Award

This year’s Russell Bruno Award for outstanding service to the auto rental industry was presented to Raymond T. Wagner, Jr., vice president, government & public affairs for Enterprise Holdings.

Ray Wagner of Enterprise Holdings, winner of the 2013 Russell Bruno Award.
Ray Wagner of Enterprise Holdings, winner of the 2013 Russell Bruno Award.

Wagner praised the new ACRA and highlighted the regulatory and legislative successes of the past 20 years, including fighting off the bans on sales of ancillary insurance products, the institution of the Graves Amendment that eradicated vicarious liability and the continued battle against discriminatory excise taxes on the city, county, state and national level.

Gordon Reel and Ray Wagner of Enterprise Holdings.
Gordon Reel and Ray Wagner of Enterprise Holdings.

“It’s often said, ‘If you are not at the table, then you are on the menu,’’ Wagner said. “I believe that to be true, particularly on these excise tax issues. If we are not out there talking to officials about the detriment these taxes bring to our customers and ultimately to our business, then we are failing.”

Other speaking highlights include an address by David Purinton of PurCo Fleet Services, who outlined the ramifications of PurCo v. Koenig, a landmark win for the auto rental industry in regards to collecting loss of use and admin fees.
Ziad Khoury, president and founder of Frontline Performance Group, delivered the Tuesday morning address on creating a lasting, high-performance corporate culture. “Are you in the business of renting a cheap car to customers or are you in the business of selling great experience?” asked Khoury. “You are providing mobility and freedom to customers. Get your staff and team to believe that.”

In a surprise highlight, Joe Opferman of 1st Source/Truckers got a special send-off into retirement from “Marilyn Monroe” to the tune of “Happy Retirement, Mr. Opferman.”

The 2014 Car Rental Show will be held April 7-8, at The Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel and Casino once again.


  1. gcygler [ April 17, 2013 @ 04:48PM ]

    Great show - had a terrible hotel experience which the Hotel refuses to address despite the promises. Those who were with me experienced as we went along.

    here is my Rio experience:
    Here goes, never posted a negative experience before but had to share this one.

    I get to the Rio on Sunday April 15th to be greeted with a check in line which takes an hour to unwind. Never have I waited an hour to check in at a Hotel only to learn this is a common occurrence to have guests wait up through the front door. I get to my room, 1149, lay out my belongings, take a shower and head to a dinner meeting. I return and the floor area inside the room in a foyer area is full of puddled water. The adjoining carpet area is soaked as is my suitcase which I had fortunately emptied except for some papers (now damaged) and medication (now damaged). My sneakers are water logged and my phone wire was under/in water but not my phone.

    I take my remaining towels, try to mop and move some water and lay them out so I have a path from the bed area to the bathroom. Had to make one pit stop during the night and had to navigate the flood. The next morning the water is actually worse and there is a foul smell. I have no fresh towels to shower so I push that off until after a break. I head to my 8am meeting; return to the room around 10am to be greeted by a terrible stench, my suitcase and sneakers still wet and the floor wet. I call the front desk, am transferred to guest service all to no avail after a long hold period.

    I do manage to reach Walgreen's which arranges for a replacement cream at a nearby pharmacy which I need to find time to go pick up.

    I return to the meeting hoping housekeeping freshens the room. No such luck. I skip the lunch and head to the room to again be greeted by the terrible odor. My thought to ride out the smell got the better of me and I call the front desk (0) and again am transferred to guest services who again do not answer the phone. Again, I hope that housekeeping

  2. David [ April 19, 2013 @ 01:12PM ]

    Well done Chris and the team at Bobit Media.

    I was a Car Rental Show virgin until a few days ago. I don't regret my decision to attend.

    Next year I would love a seminar for online business. I think every car rental company (small or large) would benefit from a better understanding of the importance of a balanced online strategy including booking engine, SEO, Adwords, google local listings, yelp, live chat etc.

    Thanks guys

  3. Joe Lyons [ April 21, 2013 @ 09:43AM ]

    Nice meeting the expo time was a great opportunity to meet current and new customers.
    Just a question how did everyone find service at Hotel seemed that check counter always had a long line? That would not work well in the RAC business. Heard story of 1 hour inline. If you were in the long wait group I think you should let it be Known, I did hear of out hotel service issues I think they should be made know as this is the first year at this location. Just my thoughts to make future meetings positive JL

  4. Wayne [ April 25, 2013 @ 07:55AM ]

    I have to say a big shout out to the ARN team led by Chris......well done. I am a CRS first timer and I was totally impressed. well done,well executed and for the most part ontime.I will be back

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