With an expanded agenda and exhibit hall, year-over-year growth in attendance, strong international representation and new auto manufacturer memberships in ACRA, the auto rental industry converged on Las Vegas in April for the 18th annual Car Rental Show.
International attendance was once again robust, with some 26 countries represented, from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico to England, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. This year, the Car Rental Show hosted a delegation from the China Road Transport Association, made up of car rental, commercial and government fleet leasing, transportation and auto manufacturing companies.
Along with the Car Rental Show, the American Car Rental Association (ACRA) is experiencing commensurate growth. During last year’s CRS, ACRA announced that all the major car rental companies had become members. This year, ACRA announced new memberships for these auto manufacturers: Nissan/Infiniti, Toyota Motor Sales USA, Subaru of America Inc., Chrysler Group LLC, Mazda and General Motors.
Bud Denker of the Penske Corporation delivered the opening keynote. Denker gave attendees insights into Penske’s divisions, which generated $19 billion in total revenues in 2012, as well as a look into Penske’s unique corporate culture.
“Our strategy is to recruit the best human capital, represent world class brands in the best locations, invest in premium facilities to attract customers and foster repeat and referral business to drive growth,” said Denker. “Effort equals results. We don’t luck into opportunities; we plan ahead, strategize and find opportunities.”
Denker said that, as a Hertz franchise, the company’s seven-month old Penske Car Rental division will leverage existing dealer locations and help to satisfy dealers’ need for more quality, pre-owned units.
Wagner Wins Bruno Award
This year’s Russell Bruno Award for outstanding service to the auto rental industry was presented to Raymond T. Wagner Jr., vice president, government & public affairs for Enterprise Holdings.
Wagner praised the new ACRA and highlighted the regulatory and legislative successes of the past 20 years, including fighting off bans on sales of ancillary insurance products, the institution of the Graves Amendment that eradicated vicarious liability and the continued battle against discriminatory excise taxes on the city, county, state and national level.
Other speaking highlights include an address by David Purinton of PurCo Fleet Services, who outlined the ramifications of PurCo v. Koenig, a landmark win for the auto rental industry in regards to collecting loss of use and administrative fees.
Ziad Khoury, president and founder of Frontline Performance Group, delivered the Tuesday morning address on creating a lasting, high-performance corporate culture.
In a surprise highlight, Joe Opferman of 1st Source Bank got a special send-off into retirement from “Marilyn Monroe,” who sang “Happy Retirement, Mr. Opferman.”
The 2014 Car Rental Show will be held April 7-8, once again at The Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.
With an iconic racing division, the second largest dealer group in the U.S, more than 210,000 leased and rented yellow trucks on the road and $19 billion in total revenue in 2012, why did Penske decide to enter the car rental market as a Hertz franchisee? “We needed more preowned units, and now we have a source,” said Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corp., in his opening keynote address.
With car rental operations already in the Memphis, Tenn. market and the Indianapolis, Ft. Wayne and South Bend, Ind. markets, Denker said that Penske will add eight to 12 car rental operations at Penske truck rental
facilities in the next few months. Denker envisions a 50/50 split between airport and local market business. Penske’s fleet already numbers 5,500 vehicles in its fledgling car rental operations.
David Purinton of PurCo Fleet Services opened his address with two words, “intrinsic” and “untenable,” regarding the Supreme Court of Colorado’s finding in favor of PurCo in the seven-year long Koenig v. Purco battle.
“The Supreme Court in Colorado says that loss of use is intrinsic to a physical damage claim,” said Purinton. “And it says that State Farm’s position that we are only entitled to loss of use if all our cars were on rent is untenable … This industry loses about half a billion dollars in loss of use every year. It’s not insignificant.”
A delegation representing the China Road Transport Association attended this year’s show. CRS created a special presentation for the delegation that covered facets of the U.S. car rental industry, from financing and procurement to staffing, operations and remarketing. Sharon Faulkner of ACRA, Jeff Iverson of GE Capital, Gregory Korfas of Chrysler, Jack Wetzel of Fox, Mike Kane of VRCG and Ken Stellon of Frontline Performance Group made presentations.
CRS owes a special thanks to Judy Lee of Frontline Performance Group for the written translation of presentations and live translation of English into Mandarin.
“Relationships do matter,” said Raymond Wagner of Enterprise Holdings, upon receiving the 2013 Russell Bruno Award for outstanding service to the auto rental industry.
“I encourage you to renew your commitment to focus on the legislative and government relationships as you run your businesses. It’s often said, ‘If you are not at the table, then you are on the menu.’ I believe that to be true, particularly on excise tax issues. If we are not talking to officials about the detriment these taxes bring to our customers and ultimately to our businesses, then we are failing.”
Fan Yifu, vice executive secretary of the China Road Transport Association, presented Sharon Faulkner, executive director of ACRA, with a commemorative scroll.
“After the initial embarrassment, I was surprised by the recognition,” said Joe Opferman of 1st Source Bank, upon receiving a special send-off into retirement from “Marilyn Monroe.” “I have enjoyed my career working with the many business owners over the years. I offer many thanks to all those who worked with me.”
“All politics is local,” said Bob Muhs of Avis Budget Group during the ACRA seminar. “When we go in to fight these taxes as an industry, the perception we have to get past is that people from out of town are paying. It’s up to us to say no, that it’s your constituents who pay. It is incumbent upon each of us to educate local legislators on
each of these issues.”
“Are you in the business of renting a cheap car or in the business of selling a great experience?” asked Ziad Khoury of Frontline Performance Group in his general session. “You’re providing to your customers mobility and freedom. That’s big and bold. Get your staff and team to believe that. But it can only start when you find your purpose in business and find your purpose as a leader.”
For the second year, the Car Rental Show held a Sunday night cocktail reception. This year, attendees toasted the 25th anniversary of Auto Rental News, the only trade publication devoted exclusively to the car rental industry, both in the U.S. and globally.
More than 700 car rental operators and industry vendors attended the 2013 Car Rental Show. Programming was increased this year to include a total of 27 seminars, workshops, keynote speakers, panels, cocktail parties, exhibit floor receptions and networking breaks.
“It’s not hard to imagine that with the financial stress in government these days, a lot of the states and counties are on the edge and in trouble,” said Frank Colonna of Triangle Rent A Car during the ACRA seminar.
“They’re going to go to the simplest and easiest prey, and it’s up to us to work together to try to kill these bills and reverse these trends. Inevitably, it will end up hurting us all if we don’t. While the Enterprises and Avises and Hertzes have resources that most of us don’t, we [independents] do have the ability to influence our legislators. We’re voters and in many cases they will listen to us as much or even more than the big boys.”
In the closing keynote address, Alec Gutierrez of Kelley Blue Book, Tom Webb of Manheim and Ricky Beggs of Black Book forecast the future of car sales, auction volume and residual values. The overview: new car sales growth is continuing to slow to a normalized pattern, while a greater influx into the used car market is causing values to depress to historically normal levels.
Sixt reps met with potential franchisees at its booth on the exhibit
hall floor. Sixt recently announced the opening of its first U.S. franchise in Tampa, as well as an agreement for the Las Vegas market. Sixt has also taken "the necessary steps to begin franchising” in Canada.
Breakout seminars reached capacity on both days. Topics included franchising, human resources, sales techniques, rate management, obtaining corporate business and car sharing.
Bob Barton, president of ACRA, addresses attendees at the First Timer’s Orientation, a new seminar for the Car Rental Show.
Leslie Pujo of LaPlaca Pujo P.C. presented the legal and legislative update. Pujo focused part of her seminar on electronic rental agreements and how they add new wrinkles to the argument of whether a customer agreed to a contract clause or added fee. She offered best practices to protect the rental company and mitigate customer complaints.
Chris Craft of First Source Bank (center) is flanked by representatives from Allied Car Rental in Puerto Rico.
Some 72 vendors to the car rental industry presented products and services at this year’s show.