When a big wave washes onshore, it has the potential to smash what lies in its path. When the wave recedes, what's left looks nothing like it did before. And so it was with the Great Recession, crashing ashore, dismantling infrastructure and rearranging the landscape as we know it.

The car rental industry-and the automotive industry-have undergone unprecedented changes in the past two years. If you're reading this, you've survived the tsunami. But now what? Are you a big wave surfer, or are you still being hit by them?

The 2011 Car Rental Show (CRS), presented by Bobit Business Media and the American Car Rental Association, is structured to provide car rental operators with the tools to take advantage of opportunities in the wake of the new economy. To be held at the Las Vegas Hilton March 8-9, 2011, CRS is once again jam-packed with education, information and networking.

Larry De Shon and Jack Fitzgerald to Keynote

This year's keynote presenters will tie together the moving parts of the car rental industry from both the corporate and independent perspectives.

Delivering the opening keynote address on Tuesday afternoon will be Larry De Shon, vice president of operations at Avis Budget Group. De Shon oversees all domestic car rental operations as well as quality assurance and field security for two of the largest and most well-known brands in the travel industry.

De Shon brings to his address a unique perspective from his experience in the airline and car rental industries. Prior to joining Avis Budget Group, De Shon was senior vice president of airport operations at United Airlines. As the head of United's worldwide airport operations, he led an organization of 23,000 employees in 29 countries.

Jack Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Auto Malls will present this year's closing keynote address on Wednesday afternoon. Fitzgerald, owner of one of the largest dealer groups in the country, bought Rent-A-Wreck in 2006 and has been working successfully to reinvigorate the well-known brand name. During the Chrysler and General Motors bankruptcies, Fitzgerald was a leader in the fight by rejected auto dealers to keep their franchises.

Always outspoken, Fitzgerald will present a no-bias, candid discussion of recent events affecting the entire automotive industry while encouraging audience participation. This is your time to "sound off!"[PAGEBREAK]

Preconference Seminars Return

Once again, CRS presents two preconference seminars at no extra charge to maximize attendees' show value.

Tennant Group Roundtable

The Tennant Group Roundtable is the industry's premiere forum for car rental operator members to improve efficiencies and maximize profits in their businesses. The Roundtable returns to CRS to share its expertise in a two-hour preconference workshop. In this roll-up-your sleeves seminar, attendees will have the opportunity for a one-on-one analysis of their operating and financial data by an experienced, non-competing Roundtable member. These statistics will be aggregated into a customized, anonymous report that will be shared with the group.

Welcome International Operators

A pre-conference seminar and networking session for international car rental operators will also return for 2011. Hosted by Angela Margolit of Bluebird Auto Rental Systems, this two-hour session, for international operators only, is designed exclusively around the unique and diverse challenges facing overseas operators. International attendees will understand the latest technologies, selling techniques and trends that they can take back to increase revenue and enhance productivity in their operations.

General Sessions

The CRS general sessions present topics that are of importance to attendees from all facets of the industry.

The Business Case for Going Green

In a special Wednesday morning breakfast address, Lee Broughton, director of corporate sustainability for Enterprise Holdings, will lay out the case for economic, social and environmental sustainability, or "the triple bottom line."

With the increasing proliferation of environmental regulation and legislation, Broughton will impart the need for the car rental industry to develop a sector-specific position on sustainability reporting and transparency before the industry is likely mandated to do so.

Ask the Manufacturers

This panel discussion will present the state of the automotive industry from the manufacturers' perspective. Panelists from domestic and foreign OEMs will provide insight into auto rental fleet sales, changes in model mix, new model offerings, build-out dates, residual value projections and more. Hear from and ask questions to the OEMs themselves.

ACRA Update and Panel Discussion

Join Sharon Faulkner, the newly appointed executive director of the American Car Rental Association, and the ACRA board of directors for an open forum on today's issues directly affecting your operation and the auto rental industry as a whole, from legislation and taxation to standardization and policy consensus. This is your chance to cause action and affect change through your association.[PAGEBREAK]

Concurrent Seminars

The concurrent seminars allow attendees to choose a topic with specific relevance to their organization. More seminars are being added as of press time.

Carsharing - Extending Your Reach, Improving Your Margins

Carsharing is the global transportation phenomena estimated to be an $8-10 billion industry worldwide within the next decade. Carsharing requires lower overhead and utilization while offering tantalizingly high RPUs. Neil Abrams, president of Abrams Consulting Group and Julian Espiritu, managing director of its carsharing advisory services business unit, will explain the carsharing business model, the competitive landscape, its performance drivers and value propositions. Whether or not carsharing should be integrated into your operation, you must be educated by the experts on this cutting-edge rental business offshoot.

Innovative Marketing Techniques for Independents

Marketing and training gurus Jim Davis and  Tom Sabol of Leslie Saunders and Associates presents a hands-on session designed specifically for independents and entrepreneurs to maximize their shoestring marketing budgets. Attendees will take home ideas on how to generate referral business and buzz through local media, explore sponsorship opportunities with the highest ROI and motivate employees to be "brand advocates." 

Legal Rulings and Your Business

Politicians, lawmakers and judges had their eyes on you in 2010! Leslie Pujo and Michael LaPlaca of LaPlaca Law PC will tackle today's hot legal and legislative topics, including CDW price regulation, the recovery of vehicle licensing costs, new insurance steering regulations, increases in rental car taxes, special treatment of foreign renters and much more.

High Risk, High Reward: Renting Exotics

Everyone looks good in a fast car-but will they work in your rental fleet? Noah Lehmann-Haupt and Rob Ferretti of Gotham Dream Cars, one of the nation's preeminent exotic car rental companies, present an insider's analysis of the considerable challenges and rewards of renting exotic and luxury cars. Timid operators need not attend.

Turbo Boost Your Fleet Plan

Are you running your rental operation as efficiently and profitably as you can? Are you utilizing your fleet in the best way possible? When is the best time to pull rental vehicles from service? What are my vehicles' replacement costs? Is it better to run vehicles in fleet longer or replace them with new cars? Greg Lubrani, business line director at OPENLANE and Dave Arney of Vehicle Rental Consulting Group provide solutions for those questions and more.

Rental Car Satisfaction Recovers - Now What?

Stuart Greif, vice president and general manager for J.D. Power and Associates' Global Travel and Hospitality practice, will share emerging trends and insights from research recently performed by J.D. Power and Associates as well as point to opportunities for rental car companies to better address customer pain points. Greif will use examples from other industries to emphasize ways that car rental companies can learn and apply lessons to raise their performance and differentiate themselves.

Five Profit Boosters and Five Profit Busters of Incremental Sales

When it comes to running a successful operation the little things add up. Whether you're overcoming a customer's objection, stating your location's name in your opening phone greeting or having the correct incentive plan, getting the small details and techniques right can lead to big time results! In this interactive workshop, experts from the Frontline Performance Group will review five time-tested profit strategies and will caution operators on which five common day practices to avoid. 

[PAGEBREAK]SIDEBAR

What's Your Big Idea?

The Profit Making Idea session is back by overwhelming demand! Members of the Tennant Group Roundtable will each present an idea that has been proven to directly improve profits in their car rental operations. Seminar attendees will also have an opportunity to present a pre-approved idea. Attendees will receive a handout for each idea presented and will vote for the best idea. The winner will be announced at the end of the closing keynote address and will receive a free pass to a future Car Rental Show! 

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