Travelers’ attitudes to booking trips have changed. A multitude of travel options, from rail to rental cars to transportation network apps signals that choice is the market driver for business and leisure travelers.
Some travelers demand more personalized and seamless travel experiences, with every element of the journey pre-arranged. Others, especially the so-called Now generation expect to book last minute and jump straight off the plane into their chosen car. Add to this the growing Free International Travelers (FIT) who want independence, and it is easy to see how challenges are growing for travel agencies. There are many different travel styles, each of which requires a unique approach and knowledge to deliver the trip the traveler expects.
While meeting these needs is a great revenue opportunity for the travel industry, the possibilities grow alongside the complexities. This can be a daunting prospect for agencies used to focusing primarily on air travel, as travelers look for more holistic, end-to-end itineraries.
Let’s consider car travel. When renting a car, customers expect to get exactly what they want — the right vehicle with all the comfort and conveniences they’re used to, such as satellite navigation and perhaps child car seats. Many customers also want in-car Wi-Fi to stay connected at all times, as well as avoid expensive roaming charges. Finally, they don’t want to be surprised at the airport with additional costs they weren’t expecting, such as the dreaded airport facilities charge. Historically this sort of product and cost predictability has been challenging for travel agencies to deliver.
Pamala Murdoch, Tour Manager at Manama Tour, knows that predictability is especially important among business travelers:
“More business travelers are demanding the complete travel package. Beyond flights, they want car services for every journey.”
In light of these challenges, agencies can establish themselves as the easiest and most reliable way for travelers to organise their journeys. Through a focus on personalization and the holistic itinerary, agencies become the lynchpin of an organized trip. And technology makes this happen.
By working alongside suppliers, the technology brings competitive prices for car travel, as well as guaranteeing availability of extras booked as part of an itinerary. Agencies can offer travelers the peace of mind and security of a pre-booked itinerary that takes them door-to-door, which caters to the exact needs of the trip.
By booking cars at the same time as flights and hotels, agencies can differentiate in the market, capitalize on extra revenue, and increase customer satisfaction. Agencies who don’t deliver on traveler expectations will lose out to competitors who can. In order to meet traveler demands, collaboration between suppliers and distribution builds a better experience through the personalization travelers not only want, but have come to expect.
It’s time to get smarter about car rentals.