With the help of Jim Tennant of The Tennant Group and Michael Meyer of Rate-Highway Inc., we are conducting rate surveys on a weekly basis and providing analysis and comments where appropriate. We publish this monthly recap in our electronic edition and more comprehensive looks in the print editions.
After an upward spike in rate quotes in August and September, January 2017 continued the flattening downtrend we have seen since those two promising months. January was down $3.87 from a year ago, which doesn’t give cause for optimism in the first quarter. The Southeast region was up $1.61 while the other four regions were down — with the Northwest down $8.06 compared to a year ago.
Last month, we looked at full-year results nationwide. This month, we are looking at individual brand pricing to see if the industry turmoil has led to any visible changes in pricing strategy.
The table above shows each of the eight major brands’ average rate quotes over the last three years, each company’s rank within the eight brands, and the number of weeks with the highest average quote for the top three brands. According to the chart, Avis has moved from No. 1 three years ago to No. 3 while Enterprise Holdings has established National firmly in the No. 1 position in the last year.
Although Hertz had the highest average quote two years ago, it was only No. 1 for 18 of the 52 weeks, so it must have had a higher spread over Avis and National when it was in the top spot.
Avis shows similar statistics when it was No. 1 three years ago. Traditional rate management thinking is that among similar brands — which the top three are — rank is more important than the spread, so a rate manager would normally try to be under his rival by as little as possible. One wonders what strategy would allow Hertz and Avis to have an apparently larger than normal spread over the others.
Among the other five brands, the only movement was a switch between Dollar and Thrifty for the No. 8 spot. Under DTG ownership, Dollar was always lowest, but Hertz has made Thrifty the lowest.