International Car Rental Show attendees enter the Gold Ballroom for Monday's keynote address. Photo: Steve Reed.

International Car Rental Show attendees enter the Gold Ballroom for Monday's keynote address. Photo: Steve Reed. 

The International Car Rental Show (ICRS) returned to Bally’s Las Vegas this week for three days of networking, educational sessions, and product demonstrations. 

With more than 700 attendees hailing from faraway locations such as New Zealand, Israel, Macedonia, Finland, and Sri Lanka, the 23rd annual ICRS provided industry players with the chance to learn, educate, and share ideas to promote sustainability in their businesses and the industry.

Sebastian Birkel, CEO of Sixt North America, introduces Alexander Sixt, who was able to present his keynote address via video conference from the company's headquarters in Munich, Germany. Photo: Steve Reed.

Sebastian Birkel, CEO of Sixt North America, introduces Alexander Sixt, who was able to present his keynote address via video conference from the company's headquarters in Munich, Germany. Photo: Steve Reed. 

This year’s show highlighted the ever-changing car rental industry with keynote addresses from Alexander Sixt, the chief administration officer of Sixt SE and a member of the executive board, and Leo Cai, executive VP of China-based eHi Car Services, focusing on the expansion of mobility services in their respective countries and the U.S.

Alexander Sixt was unexpectedly prevented from traveling due to a visa issue. However, Sixt was successfully able to connect through a video conference from the agency's Munich headquarters. Sixt, the fourth generation of the Sixt family to lead the company, shared data and insights on the company's recent performance and growth, as well as the company's expansion plans in the U.S. and around the world. 

Already, seven of the 20 biggest Sixt locations are in the U.S. and in 2017, the rental agency recorded a U.S. revenue of $395 million. A major component to that success is the rental company's adaptability to new mobility models and technology, Sixt told attendees via Skype.

eHi Car Service Executive VP & CMO Leo Cai talks about new mobility trends in China. Photo: Michaela Kwoka-Coleman.

eHi Car Service Executive VP & CMO Leo Cai talks about new mobility trends in China. Photo: Michaela Kwoka-Coleman. 

Switching focus to the world’s most populated country, Cai discussed how eHi Car Services — the second largest car rental company in China — is meeting increased demand.

In spite of a rapidly growing middle class, owning a vehicle in first-tier Chinese cities is prohibitively expensive, Cai said. As a result, car rental and carsharing — combined with an advanced and extensive public transportation networks — are becoming increasingly attractive mobility options. 

As an innovative country, Cai expects the share economy to continue growing, with technologically adaptable companies and models leading the way.

The American Car Rental Association's general meeting featured guest speaker and politcal pundit Stu Rothenberg. A Washington D.C. insider and frequent cable news commentator, Rothenberg gave insight into the current political climate and how it pertains to the lobbying intrests of ACRA. 

While the ICRS highlighted many of the trends in the rental industry, a few sessions focused on the increasing dangerous world today and how agencies can help to minimize violence.

Led by FBI Special Agent Kirsten Malkovich, Las Vegas Field Office, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Al Guarnieri of the National Joint Terrorism Task Force, and FBI Special Agent Fred Bradford, Private Sector Coordinator, the session “Recognizing Pathways to Violent Extremism” helped to educate rental operators on the causes of violent extremism and typical signs that identify someone who may be at risk.

Political pundit Stu Rothenberg addresses the ACRA General Meeting at the International Car Rental Show. Photo: Steve Reed.

Political pundit Stu Rothenberg addresses the ACRA General Meeting at the International Car Rental Show. Photo: Steve Reed. 

Renting a vehicle last minute, unwillingness to hand over a driver’s license, using a fake driver’s license or a driver’s license that doesn’t match the name on an individual’s credit card, and paying for the rental in cash, are all actions that when combined, may indicate someone who intends to do something illegal and potential dangerous with the vehicle.

If you see something, say something, the agents said — and always follow your gut instinct.

Keeping with the theme of illegal usage and technology to combat it, Bandango Van Rental’s Sharky Laguana, Alex Shartsis of Perfect Price, and Heather Henson, of Kogniz, Inc., presented on the emerging tech impacting car rental.

Through a camera using the technology in the ballroom, Kogniz's facial recognition technology was able to identify and match seminar attendees who were also ICRS speakers.

In respect to the #MeToo movement, Rob Rosenthal, an attorney at the firm Howard & Howard, and Rich Frakes of Desert Cab Company, led the session “Protecting Your Workplace from Sexual Harrassment.”

Auto Rental News Executive Editor Chris Brown leads the closing keynote panel Tuesday, along with Fox Rent-A-Car's Gaurav Kohli, Alix Partner's Arun Kumar, Green Motion's Richard Lowden, and FPG's Andrew Rodriguez. Photo: Michaela Kwoka-Coleman.

Auto Rental News Executive Editor Chris Brown leads the closing keynote panel Tuesday, along with Fox Rent-A-Car's Gaurav Kohli, Alix Partner's Arun Kumar, Green Motion's Richard Lowden, and FPG's Andrew Rodriguez. Photo: Michaela Kwoka-Coleman.

The takeaway: Have a clear policy regarding the written reporting and investigation of sexual harassment claims, require employees to sign said policy, follow through on investigating all complaints in a timely manner, and remind employees that sexual harassment, be it verbal or physical, will not be tolerated.

For the fifth year in a row, the niche Latin American Meetings provided operators from South, and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean the opportunity to discuss rental issues unique to their geographical areas.

During the closing panel, Fox Rent-A-Car's Gaurav Kohli, Alix Partner's Arun Kumar, Green Motion's Richard Lowden, and FPG's Andrew Rodriguez looked to the immediate future of car rental and beyond. While TNCs and auto manufacturers are sure to grow in the coming years, rental agencies that are technologically adept and focus on customer loyalty in their niche market are sure to have some skin in the game, the panel agreed. 

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