Photo by Steve Reed

Photo by Steve Reed

Weren’t at the 2016 International Car Rental Show in Las Vegas in April? Here’s just some of what you missed:

You didn’t get a chance to meet more than 700 industry people who gathered together, analyzed, and discussed the major issues facing the car rental industry today.

You didn’t take the opportunity to become professionally certified through CIRAS.

You missed two cocktail receptions where you could have asked multiple questions from multiple sources about that concern you have back at the office. This would have been your opportunity to solve that problem with advice from car rental operators who have already faced similar issues.

If you were a first-time attendee, or even if you weren’t, you missed how to get the most out of attending the show from industry insiders and multiple opportunities to network with fellow attendees.

You also missed how to use the new mobile app that put the entire show program in your mobile device. I found it to be the easiest and quickest way to customize my schedule and to make choices for the seminars I didn’t want to miss — without carrying around a cumbersome program guide and flipping the pages back and forth.

So much information was available to everyone who attended the show. Experts in the field discussed the current state of car rental and trends in the travel industry, such as the evolution of the booking process and using mobile technology to your advantage. There were sessions on how to lower your liability by understanding and making sure you use the Graves Amendment to reduce your damage repair costs.

If you were considering franchising, leasing your rental fleet, trying to grow your corporate rentals, capturing the millennial market, mastering marketing and phone sales, learning how to recruit talent or making the industry’s consolidation work for you — then you missed the boat by not attending the show. There was so much content that I know you needed, like experts telling you how to keep your fleet costs — your biggest expense — in check. If you run a dealership, you missed the dealer day sessions.

You didn’t have the opportunity to hear Bob Kolasky from the Department of Homeland Security share threat information to help mitigate risks from terrorism, as part of the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, designed to help the car rental industry and others know who to call when they recognize suspicious activity. “There is no doubt that terrorists have targeted rental car companies to enable them to attempt their terrorist activities,” said Kolasky.

The International Car Rental Show is the best place to catch up on federal and state legislation that affects our industry. The American Car Rental Association (ACRA) concisely detailed the need for the association and its constituents to continue to fight excise taxes, to educate legislators on the need and economic benefits of like-kind exchanges (LKEs), to work with stakeholders in regard to recall compliance, and to address multiple state concerns.

ACRA invited all members, both car rental operators and industry vendors, to travel to Washington, D.C. in September and join seasoned lobbyists to experience firsthand the legislative process through Capitol Hill visits to legislators’ offices. ACRA also introduced its new political action campaign (PAC) and explained how this PAC can help further the association’s involvement and recognition in Washington.

Did I mention that you missed the networking opportunities? My absolute favorite time at the International Car Rental Show is during exhibit hall hours, where all my favorite vendors give attendees the opportunity to speak with them, examine their products, and collect their brochures to study and make important decisions after heading back to home. This is by far one of the most effective ways to improve and grow your business.

If you weren’t at the show, you missed understanding how our industry has grown internationally through the International Meet and Greet reception and the first-ever meeting of international car rental association directors, as well as the report by Enterprise Holdings’ VP of global franchising, Peter Smith.

We were reminded that our industry is worldwide, evidenced by more than 30 countries in attendance at the show. They traveled around the globe for the opportunity to be at the most important industry event — one that was in your own backyard.

About The Author

Sharon Faulkner is the executive director of the American Car Rental Association.