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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.