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.
March quotes continued down for the fourth consecutive month, with the gap over a year ago widening to $6.42. The Northwest gap widened to $13.24, but all regions except the Midwest were down significantly.
Rate quotes have been down consistently for at least the last two years. This is somewhat surprising because the economy and the travel industry seem to be doing quite well, but the rental car industry does not seem to be keeping up.
We do not have access to each company’s reservation flow, fleet availability, and utilization, except for the statements of the two public companies. We do have access to a large amount of rate quote detail, which is summarized and used to prepare this monthly column.
This month, we looked at brand price quotes over the last year to see if we could discern any strategy changes. We also looked at the top three brands quotes at the top 25 airports over the last two years. You may find the results interesting.
The chart above shows weekly average rate quotes by brand at the top 20 U.S. airports for the last 52 weeks. A few things show up:
• The gap between the top three brands (National, Hertz, and Avis) and the other five brands has narrowed considerably and recently almost disappeared, an unheard-of event until now.
• Budget surged high relative to its competitors in July 2016, but it seems to have fallen back to the average.
• Dollar and Thrifty have traditionally been the lowest two brands, but the gap has widened.
• National has taken undisputed first place in rate quotes. The table below shows this in greater detail.
This table (above) shows that over the last 52 weeks, the National brand has had higher rate quotes than Hertz and Avis.
Until recently, the top three brands were within pennies of each other and the lead would go back and forth between them. In the preceding 52 weeks, Hertz had the highest average quotes but it led by only $0.83, as opposed to National’s lead of $1.62 this past year.
Finally in this table (above), we looked at the top three brands’ average quotes in the top 20 airports for the month of March to see if there was a regional or aiport-specific pattern or strategy visible.
National quoted higher than Avis at every one of the top 20 airports, almost always by at least $1 and by as much as $16.35 at Chicago (ORD). National quoted higher than Hertz, except at JFK, Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), and LaGuardia (LGA). Again the differences were more than $1 and as high as $15.77 in Chicago.