Designed as the global marketplace for the car rental industry, more than 800 attendees across the U.S. and overseas came together at the 2014 Car Rental Show, now in its 19th year.
Located at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas from April 7-8, this year’s conference featured an expanded agenda and exhibit hall, year-over-year growth in attendance and a solid international presence.
"From the expanded exhibit hall to the growth in registrations — both domestic and international — the Car Rental Show has cemented itself as the focal point for the car rental industry,” said Chris Brown, executive editor of Auto Rental News. “The health of the show speaks to the health of the industry."
International attendees represented 33 countries, including China, Korea, Japan, South Africa, New Zealand and Brazil. New for this year, a special Latin American meeting was held on Wednesday April 9.
Entitled “Growing Your Car Rental Business in Latin America,” this meeting was designed for car rental operators serving Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Sessions included topics on the latest technology, ways to gain more inbound rental traffic and tips to market your company.
Pat Farrell, the chief marketing and communications officer for Enterprise Holdings, kicked off the conference with his keynote address: “The Future of Auto Rental: From Global to Local.” Farrell discussed the car rental industry’s role in this new era of transportation and the importance of catering to consumer preferences.
“Our world will continue to change: innovation will drive growth, technology will drive growth and customer preferences will drive growth,” said Farrell. “Whether we — as individual companies or an industry — succeed or fail will come down to one simple thing — how we deal with each customer.”
Dr. Craig Manning, author and Olympic sports psychology consultant, delivered the Tuesday morning address on his Fearless Mind methodology, which uses proven scientific curriculum built around the psychological principles of the mind to help maximize human efficiencies. Manning described how the “Fearless Mindset” can build confidence, get rid of anxiety and increase productivity among a company’s employees.
“When we think the right way, we are 2.91 times more efficient,” says Manning. “High productivity equals potential plus training minus mental interference. The weakest can maximize their potential in a positive culture and environment.”
The American Car Rental Association (ACRA) board of directors led its annual association update and seminar with a panel that included Sens. Mark Hutchinson and Michael Roberson of the Nevada Senate. The senators provided tips on how to develop relationships with state legislators, including being honest and addressing the problem upfront and knowing your message and being direct and precise.
In addition, ACRA named Joe Knight of Fox Rent A Car its new president, replacing Bob Barton after his six-year term.
The two-day show concluded with a special closing session on the issue of prepaid reservations. A panel of experts analyzed the topic from all sides, including operation, customer service, revenue management and IT, OTA and GDS connectivity.
Panelist Dr. Stowe Shoemaker, a professor at UNLV’s Harrah College of Hotel Administration, stressed the importance of offering a discounted price to encourage rental customers to prepay for a vehicle.
Without a prepaid reservation, many consumers will continue to search for cheaper prices, which could lead to a no-show. “How can we get someone to commit ahead of time and not continue to look for other rental car options?” Shoemaker asked the audience.
Other seminars included an interactive discussion by Leslie Pujo of LaPlaca Pujo, P.C. on rental vehicle law changes from the past year and the best practices for rental car companies.
Concurrent sessions featured various topics including how to combat credit card fraud, how rental technology can automate rate management and enhance member programs, signs of a healthy sales culture and how pricing, volume and performance can impact residual values.
New for 2014, the Car Rental Show featured 10 different interactive roundtable discussions. In 20-minute sessions, group facilitators covered topics such as customer service in the age of social media, best practices in car key management, tips for counter sales and implementing self-service car rentals.
The 2015 Car Rental Show will be held April 13-14 at a new Las Vegas venue: Bally’s Hotel and Casino.
By Amy Winter