Working, recreation, travelling, shopping – the last six months dramatically affected virtually all aspects of my life. I changed my habits and routines and so did millions of people around the world. Your own health and safety is a powerful motivator.

But while we avoided crowds, businesses struggled. Restaurants, stores, service providers had to rethink their way of servicing us completely in order to survive. Initially, most of them tried to cope with the new situation by restricting the number of customers. Economics dictate that servicing fewer customers while maintaining fixed expenses can’t be a sustainable solution for this kind of challenge. So store after store went digital with a hybrid model of “order online” and “pick-up at the store” in order to find a way to protect the health of their customers and the health of their business.

In this way the pandemic became THE catalyst for going digital, setting new expectations in the process. Let’s face it, no one really liked standing in lines before, now it’s just flat out unacceptable.

In order to survive, the travel industry needs to innovate and build off of this monumental shift in consumer expectations, too.  By moving to a truly contactless mobile solution, mobility providers can first regain and then retain customers for the long haul. 

To deliver these innovations, car rental and sharing providers need a mobile app to:

  1. Schedule and make reservations,
  2. Take payments,
  3. Validate important identity, license and insurance information and
  4. Act as digital key access for rented or loaned vehicles. 

A number of top software providers are offering white labelled mobile solutions that perform contactless car rental, document processing including signature capture, and increasingly they are equipped with digital key access.  Today’s best digital key access solutions are all-in-one, retro-fit installations that offer phone as a key features, but also important benefits powered by telematics.

Expanded Business Potential

Legacy rental outlet models with a staffed presence require overhead that can be a significant drain on the bottom line; required for some applications, but not all.  Using a truly contactless solution, a rental operation can use a hub-and-spoke model of staffed and unstaffed locations.  A single staffed location can put vehicles in convenient reach of customers with reduced overhead costs.  By putting vehicles where demand exists, in-town, and near or at auto repair facilities for instance, businesses can become the first choice of customers, without significantly increasing overhead costs.  Further, the staffed locations can now service with extended hours, including full 24/7 operations without increased staffing.

Improved Operational Efficiencies

Vehicle integrated telematics not only provide location of your vehicles, but can provide important operational data directly from the vehicle, like actual odometer and fuel levels. Today’s digital key systems are full-fledged telematics solutions too, with additional benefits to improve operations.  Up to the minute vehicle data enables accurate billing in the contactless solution; car returns can be a click of a button with precise information shared across the rental system. No more attendant check-ins before billing, and no more guessing on fuel level, which can lead to improved recouping of fuel costs.

Crash Notifications & Driver Scoring

Let’s face it, accidents happen, but what your business does afterwards can help reduce operational losses, while also cementing customer loyalty.  With accident notifications sourced from an onboard telematics device, rental companies can get first notice of loss alerts, along with a severity report.  Minor accident alerts mean staff should take extra care to look for damage when checking the car back in.  More severe reports may require quick recovery of the rental vehicle before towing and storage fees add up.  It’s also an opportunity to reach out to the renter to see if they need additional transportation assistance to keep them on their way.  If done well, you may have just earned a lifetime of loyalty.  Finally, driver scoring is possible with these systems helping rental operations better profile driver risk, and plan accordingly.

Improved Security Helps Eliminate Failure to Return Issues

Handing over the keys to a stranger for a car should feel a little odd, but we do it every day.  So how can a digital access system enhance security more than the usual way of renting?  Modern digital key access systems have multiple layers of security, from encrypted digital keys downloaded onto customer phones, to tamper-resistant systems that automatically disable access to the car if the system detects unauthorized access.  These systems are typically installed in a covert location to avoid tampering issues, and  the latest systems will only take 10-15 minutes to install saving hours of installation time across the entire fleet.

Finally, modern systems can cut off access to the vehicle by expiring the digital key if the rental is sent into Failure to Return status.  As a result, vehicles can be located and recovered almost immediately, with no further loss of rental days, and a lower likelihood of extended or remote recovery issues.

Digital Key Access Checklist

As rental agencies and car sharing operations consider a truly contactless solution, here’s a checklist to keep in mind for selecting your vendor.

  • Easy to implement white label mobile app that allows easy reservations, payment, data validation, e-contracting and digital key access.
  • A Digital Key Access system that easily retro-fits to existing fleet, with a 10-15 minute install time, saving hours of installation time across the entire fleet
    • Low total cost of ownership by preserving the key and key fobs during a quick install (as opposed to the old way of destroying the key during installation)
    • Solution accommodates both push to start cars and legacy metal key ignition systems
    • Robust telematics feed including actual odometer and fuel
    • Includes driver scoring and first notice of loss for accidents
    • Additional security features to help prevent vehicle theft

Truly Contactless Rentals for Better Car Rental and Sharing

The travel and mobility industry is going to need to innovate to move ahead, and truly contactless solutions can help reassure customers now, while locking in their loyalty later.  Mobile e-commerce is booming, and mobility businesses that work well over the mobile phone will be in a better position to grow their business as we move ahead.  Finally, the best contactless solutions use digital key access tied to a mobile app to access the vehicle, while also providing improved operational efficiencies through enhanced telematics features.

We’ll survive this pandemic, and the businesses that innovate and go digital will be better positioned to capitalize on the recovery to come.

For more information on digital key access for car rental and car sharing fleets see – HufSecureMobile.com