Top Rent A Car is a national car rental company with 13 offices in Bulgaria. We are currently the leading operator in this business and have a 44.5% market share, with the largest car fleet in the local market, with around 2,000 cars of various classes.
How COVID-19 Affected Business
The main groups of clients in the car rental business in Bulgaria are from Russia, Germany, and England, which have been extremely affected by the COVID crisis. For that reason, our expectations for the market in 2020 were very pessimistic.
The pandemic has hit car rental businesses very hard. The decrease in the number of reservations was huge. The 14-day quarantine measure affected mostly those arriving in Bulgaria, and our business relied mainly on clients arriving from abroad.
This global pandemic threatened so many businesses in the tourism industry, and those with inefficient processes went bankrupt or were forced to cut a large part of their staff.
How We Maintained Growth During Crisis
At Top Rent A Car, we believe that true leaders are born in difficult times. Seeing through the prism of the time, we see that COVID was just a challenge that allowed us to optimize our internal processes. As a company, we managed to keep the jobs of our staff, but even in 2021, during the summer months, we couldn’t reach the turnover we had in 2019 before the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, the tourism industry was accustomed to operating mostly with early bookings, and employment planning wasn’t a problem. The pandemic has changed consumer habits and made people more spontaneous. Many have begun to prefer to make reservations at the last minute. It is due to the risk of imposing anti-epidemic measures in the country. This has forced us to become more flexible and to be able to respond more dynamically to demand.
The COVID crisis suddenly surprised tourism around the world. Most of the car rental businesses around the world and in Bulgaria approached the situation very carefully and failed to take advantage of the newly opened opportunities.
At Top Rent A Car, we saw the opportunity to make the service we offer even more sustainable and to reach out to the target audience, who had been underestimated and neglected over the years by most in the industry. By that, we mean Bulgarian citizens and their needs for rental cars. Therefore, we diversified the audience to which we offer our services and we managed to reduce our dependence on foreign tourists. Thus, we managed to provide utilization for the car fleet and for our team, even in the situation where traveling was suspended.
One of the prerequisites to being less affected by the situation and to succeeding in redirecting our efforts so quickly is that many years before, we developed other segments of our business. We are talking about business services related to our light trucks and operating car leasing. In times of crisis like this one, the right strategies for sustainable business are key.
Goals for 2022
In 2022, we want to increase our car fleet by about 20%, while adding more electric cars to it. We believe in a "green" future, and we are actively preparing for the transition to shared mobility. Ninety percent of our cars are brand new and meet the highest European standards for harmful emissions.
About the Author: Adem Adem is a marketing specialist for Top Rent A Car in Bulgaria.