The annual International Car Rental Show combines keynote addresses featuring industry leaders, education in general and concurrent sessions, interaction with vendors, products, and services in the exhibit hall, and plenty of networking — a key benefit for international attendees, newcomers, and old-timers alike. Photos by Steve Reed

The annual International Car Rental Show combines keynote addresses featuring industry leaders, education in general and concurrent sessions, interaction with vendors, products, and services in the exhibit hall, and plenty of networking — a key benefit for international attendees, newcomers, and old-timers alike. Photos by Steve Reed

The future seems to arrive quicker every day. If Yogi Berra didn’t say it, he should have.

With the growing onslaught of headlines involving ride hailing, carsharing, peer-to-peer, telematics, and driverless cars, the pace of change in transportation seems to be quicker than any point since the invention of the automobile. For the car rental industry, the place to make sense of these changes is at the annual International Car Rental Show (ICRS).

Presented in conjunction with the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), the 22nd annual ICRS convenes March 27-29, 2016, at Bally’s Las Vegas. The only event designed for the auto rental industry worldwide, the 2017 ICRS will draw attendees from the U.S., Canada, and some 30 other countries.

This year’s keynote panel address, “Car Rental and the Future of Mobility,” will directly address these fundamental shifts in transportation and how they could affect the business model of car rental.

Panelists include North Holbrook, director of commercial sales of Volvo Cars of North America; Mark Thomas, vice president of marketing for RideCell, a multinational provider of mobility services platforms; and Dan Langford, executive director for Nevada Center for Advanced Mobility, which brings together stakeholders to develop policy around autonomous vehicles and related infrastructure.

In a first for the event, the ICRS welcomes Europcar to the stage for the company’s view of today’s global car rental market and its vision for the future.

In “Europcar’s View on the Evolution of Mobility,” Marcus Bernhardt, chief commercial officer for Europcar Group, will reveal Europcar’s recent initiatives, including carsharing, an all-electric car club, a corporate ride-hailing service, and a program that combines medium-term rental with a carsharing option using mobile technology. Attendees will also be taken behind the curtain of Europcar Lab, the company’s innovation platform.

Tackling mobility from a legal perspective, Wesley Hurst of Polsinelli and Leslie Pujo of Plave Koch PLC will analyze the new concerns surrounding liability, contracts, insurance, and employment in new models such as automated rentals and carsharing to peer-to-peer systems and transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft.

Operations Success

The main agenda of the ICRS has always centered on the concurrent seminars, designed to improve efficiencies and drive revenue for car rental operations of all types. This year is no exception.

Using data from J.D. Power’s North American Rental Satisfaction survey, as well as on-the-ground tips from operators, attendees will receive actionable solutions to improve various aspects of the rental process.

Addressing the growing problem of credit card fraud, Suresh Dakshina of Chargeback Gurus will demonstrate how to spot the various types of chargebacks — specific to car rental — and deliver best practices to help reduce exposure to chargebacks and fraud in general.

In a workshop designed specifically for independent operators and mid-sized licensees, experts on rate strategy will help attendees with creative solutions to improve rates while keeping utilization high.

Technology has put data in the hands of operators, but how you interpret this enormous amount of data and use it to better your business isn’t easy.

Two seminars address this: One seminar is presented by Padraig O’Connell and Ken Stellon of Frontline Performance Group and will share how to use data, technology, and coaching to create a true “owners” and “ambassadors” culture in your staff.

Another seminar will demonstrate how operators can mine years of rental transactions to engage existing customers with personalized messages, targeted marketing programs, and tailored product offerings at the counter.

Many neighborhood car rental operations have extra parking spaces, high traffic frontage, and an underutilized workforce. But how do you maximize these advantages? Consultant Jim Tennant will lead a discussion on retail business opportunities such as car sales, parking, car wash, and quick lube.

Expense from damaged rental vehicles could cost as much as $500 per vehicle cycle — and yet recouping this expense has always been a difficult task. A seminar moderated by Sharon Faulkner, executive director of ACRA, will provide the latest tools to improve damage expense recovery practices through better agent training techniques, honing of documentation, and utilization of the latest in documentation ­technology.

In “Win/Win Negotiating Strategies,” a seminar that is sure to benefit everyone, David Purinton of PurCo Fleet Services will give attendees a new skill set to use in any type of negotiation, from vendors, employees, managers, and franchisors, to your neighbors or even your teenager.

In addition, the roundtable sessions return for 2017, in which attendees can choose between five out of 10 specific topics delivered in a quick, interactive format.

Welcoming the World

The International Car Rental Show is the exclusive forum for the car rental community to meet face-to-face, and this year’s event provides an abundance of networking opportunities.

Kicking off this year’s festivities on Monday evening March 27 is the annual welcome reception. (Note that this year’s ICRS has shifted start dates from Sunday to Monday.)

International operators once again have an opportunity to mingle on Monday morning, and directly after that, “newbies” are encouraged to take part in the First Timers’ Networking Orientation.

The exhibit hall is open for lunch on Tuesday and ­Wednesday, as well as for the opening reception on Tuesday evening. This year, the exhibit hall will feature an international lounge.

Programming for Groups

Over the past few years, ICRS has presented seminar blocks to address the issues facing specific business groups that are defined by region, country, or business type.

The “America Latina Réunion Éspecial,” or Latin American meeting, returns for 2017. Presented in Spanish and English, this seminar block presents an exclusive learning opportunity for car rental operators serving Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

In answer to a request by attendees, this year the Latin American meeting will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on March 27, before the start of general programming. This will give those attendees the chance to attend more concurrent seminars during their stay.

The Rental Car Professional (RCP) certification program will be presented concurrent to the Latin American meeting on Monday afternoon. Developed by the Center for International Retail Automotive Standards (CIRAS) and presented by consultant Jim Schalberg, certified graduates will be recognized at the awards ceremony on Wednesday. This program requires a separate certification.

Auto Dealer Day programming returns on Tuesday March 28. This block of programming is designed specifically for auto dealers looking to improve their rental and loaner operations. This year’s seminar topics include steps to branding a rental operation, secrets to retail rentals, and how to harness metrics to improve a dealer’s loaner department.

MGM Hospitality Expert to Close CRS

Mary Ann Sena-Edelen

Mary Ann Sena-Edelen

Bringing guest service secrets from the hotel industry to car rental, Mary Ann Sena-Edelen of MGM Resorts International will deliver the closing keynote session.

Entitled “Legendary Customer Service Secrets from the Hospitality Industry,” Sena-Edelen’s address will share insights from the hospitality industry that car rental companies can take home to inspire employees’ performances, add value to their teams, and improve their renters’ experiences.

Sena-Edelen, who oversees MGM’s newly formed department of Organizational Culture and Employee Experience, is a recognized event speaker whose seminars have garnered reviews such as ”best in show,” “riveting and lively,” and “engaging, motivating, and inspiring” from attendees at other Bobit Business Media events.

About the author
Chris Brown

Chris Brown

Associate Publisher

As associate publisher of Automotive Fleet, Auto Rental News, and Fleet Forward, Chris Brown covers all aspects of fleets, transportation, and mobility.

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