Now in its third year, car rental managers, executives and employees from corporate, franchised and independent companies across the U.S. and overseas came together at the 2014 Auto Rental Summit from Nov. 10-11.

Designed to improve customer service and enhance venue of car rental operations, this two-day training and education conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., featured an exhibit hall with vendors, informative seminars and networking opportunities (including an “Opening Act Rock Star Party”) for 260 registrants.

In keeping with the Auto Rental Summit’s “Be a Rock Star” theme, the all-new Fleet Jam Session kick-started the two-day event. This three-hour session featured an overview of the used car market from Ricky Beggs, editor and executive vice president of Black Book, and a panel discussion on the latest trends in fleet planning, funding and remarketing. The session concluded with several fleet roundtable discussions.

Dr. Craig Manning, Olympic performance psychology consultant, started out the seminars with a keynote address on his Fearless Mind methodology, designed around the psychological principles of the mind to help maximize human efficiencies. “High productivity equals potential plus training, minus mental interference.”

The Summit included several breakout seminars. Pat the Trainer — from Rent-A-Wreck, Priceless and NextCar brands — led a hands-on workshop on how to motivate a sales team and improve counter sales. Presented by David Purinton of PurCo Fleet Services, “How to Maintain Customer Service in the Damage Recovery Process” provided tips on how to preserve a high level of customer service while recovering losses incurred by customers’ damages to rental cars.

ACRA Executive Director Sharon Faulkner and Ken Stellon, managing partner of Frontline Performance Group, led a discussion on how commissions and rewards are important at every level in a car rental operation. According to Faulkner, don’t pay your support team only minimum wage; a rental company’s support team should also be given incentives — including recognition, varied schedules and educational opportunities — to maintain motivation.

Technology was also covered in the seminars on utilizing mobile apps and software to streamline everything from reservations to inventory control, as well as using technology (websites, social media, blogs, etc.) to find new business.

In addition to the seminars, several awards were presented at this year’s Summit.

Auto Rental News announced the four winners of its third annual Professional of the Year Awards. Presented by American Express, these awards honor associates who demonstrate and promote outstanding customer satisfaction within the car rental process. honored the winner of its second Renter Rated Award, which recognizes the top scoring independent car rental agency in its Renter Rated Program. This year, honorable mentions were also given to runners-up in three sub-categories: staff, vehicles and recommend to others.

Look for an online gallery of photos from the 2014 Auto Rental Summit soon.

By Amy Winter

Michael Jackson made a special appearance at the Opening Act Rock Star Party.

Michael Jackson made a special appearance at the Opening Act Rock Star Party.