Wayne Stewart from Danjor Car Rentals in Montego Bay, Jamaica, talks in this web-exclusive about how the company has had to drop rates to remain competitive and is curtailing plans to expand to Kingston until the economic environment resumes a pre-Recession climate.
What's your total fleet size?
How many locations do you have and in what types of areas?
Presently we are operating through our only location, in Montego Bay.
How did the business start?
This business was born out of generosity. I had three cars and family and friends used to borrow my cars when visiting the Island. A friend suggested that I rent these cars to earn some revenue and it worked. The rest is history.
What are your primary sources of rental customers?
We receive online reservations through our website as well as customers (mostly repeat customers) that have to be picked up at the airport. Word of mouth recommendation also works well for us.
Are you an affiliate of any kind?
Yes, we have been affiliated with ACE Rent a Car since April 2006.
Are you pursuing new sources of business?
We are presently pursuing the Social Media Marketing. This is geared to the segment for young professionals and young to middle-age travelers. This has also connected us to the other professionals/experts in the travel industry.
How has the car rental market in Jamaica evolved in the past 10 years? 20 years?
Formerly, most of the people renting cars in Jamaica were tourists and business people. However, we have renters from all segments of the society from the tourists to a local who may have a wedding or a funeral.
The widespread use of, and improvement in technology through the Internet, has opened up the industry to all and has created much competition and all companies are using these mediums.
Describe your specific marketing efforts and what the payback has been so far.
As a promotion strategy, we printed and distributed brochures and flyers. We also offer “special rates” and discounts on our websites (ACE and Danjor). These offers include one free day with weekly rentals rates, special discounts, etc.
How do you buy cars (lease, repurchase, buy)?
We purchase cars directly from local dealers.
How do you sell your cars? (sell back to dealers, used car lot, auction?)
We sell cars from our lot.
How long do you keep cars in fleet?
18- 24 months
What are your biggest challenges with fleet?
Being able to plan around the strategy of the untimely waiver system. (You can read more here about Jamaica’s waiver system.)
What are your popular rental vehicles?
The Toyota Yaris and Corolla are the most popular ones.
What types of counter products are popular?
GPS, Road Maps and children’s restraining seats are the most popular ones.
Are there a lot of independent car rental companies in Jamaica?
Yes, and some informal ones too!
How are you surviving the current economic climate?
We have been creative in carving rates and applying discounts to all customers to maintain our place in the market. We have had to cut the deposit requirements to help ease the burden on our customers as well. Reducing rental rates have not done well for our revenue but we are able to stay afloat.
The Recession has curtailed our plans to establish another location in Kingston. We still plan to do so in the future.
Along with other entities in and outside the car rental industry, we are still grappling with the negative effects of the Recession. We, however, still remain optimistic that the economy will recover.
What are your biggest challenges right now in the business?
The all-inclusive hotels do not allow most tourists the opportunity to rent because of the tours they offer.
What does the car rental market over the next five years in Jamaica look like?
We hope that the car rental market will rebound in the next five years to what it was before the Recession or even better.
Any new laws or rules you must abide by?
The Government’s role in granting duty concessions on vehicles bought for the rental industry. The approval process is lengthy, so we have to be ahead with our applications.
Cars bought at concession prices have to be kept for a minimum of 18 months as stipulated by the Government.
Where do you think the biggest growth potential is in your business?
The quality of our customer service, invariably when customers are satisfied they will return as well as promote our business to others.
What would you like to see change in the industry in Jamaica? Worldwide?
Deposit on all reservations or cancellation fees for last minute cancellations/no-shows.
Are you part of any tour or rental-related organizations or associations (which ones)?
The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and the Jamaica Rent A Car Association.
Any other comments about your staff or daily operations that make your company unique?
Our staff is pretty small, considering our size but like the phrase “punching above your weight,” we try to go above and beyond the normal requirements to keep our clients happy.
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