Gianluca Testa, Avis Budget Group, managing director for southern Europe, the UK and European central operations, says the sector must embrace technology to set the wheels in motion for the future of travel
Guest Post: How Avis Budget is driving a digital revolution in the car rental sector
You would be hard stretched to find a consumer-facing industry harder hit by the pandemic than the travel sector, which ground to a halt with the introduction of multiple national lockdowns.
Yet, in 2022, the travel and car rental industries are back in high demand, as customers look to invest disposable income in the experiences that were denied in the previous two years.
Airports Council International suggested that 2022 may closely resemble ‘three summers in one’, with global passenger traffic set to reach 77% of what it was in 2019, and traffic totalling 7.1 billion passengers forecast for 2022.[i]
Meanwhile, in the car rental industry we are seeing a similar story, with Avis Budget Group providing customers with 36% more days of car rental in the first six months of 2022 compared to the 12 months prior.[ii] As a result, the broader industry is poised to grow by $93.17 billion during 2022-2026.[iii]
However, the return to travel has not been a smooth ride. Supply chain problems, labour shortages, and cancellations have created issues in the industry’s first summer post pandemic.
And the car rental industry has not been immune to the constraints on global supply chains - with the semiconductor shortage limiting the number of cars being built and impacting rising consumer demand.
Together, these issues have prevented some travellers from having the seamless experience they have come to expect.
With demand expected to continue rising until 2024, there are steps that the industry can take to streamline the customer journey and ensure that providers are positioned to deliver the expected levels of service.[iv]
To enhance customers’ experiences while travelling, we need digital solutions that are easy to roll out quickly and can endure periods of industry volatility.
This means providing customers with solutions that automate the vehicle pick-up process, allowing them to make the next leg of their journey without any hassle or friction.
Digital solutions are also being demanded by customers. The pandemic accelerated the rate of technological advancement, leading to a new wave of digital literacy and an increase in demand for digital products.
On top of this, many consumers are looking to avoid unnecessary interactions where possible.
To adapt to these new, post-pandemic market and customer demands, car rental providers must respond digitally.
Yet across the industry we continue to see major companies failing to provide the digital solutions needed to simplify the customer rental experience.
At Avis Budget Group, digitalisation is a priority. This is why we have been exploring new ways to streamline our customer experience to make it as easy as possible – making at least one part of the broader customer travel experience seamless.
While we’ve been implementing key digital products within our customer service for years, we have introduced additional solutions more recently to meet increasing customer preferences for digital.
Our new QuickPass pre-travel registration service saves customers time at collection, allowing them to share the details we need for their rental at a time that suits them.
Between June and August, close to 150,000 customers benefitted from the seamless pick-up experience afforded by the technology.
With appetite for travel back on the rise, it is critical that the travel and car rental industries keep digitalisation front of mind to streamline their customer experience.
At Avis Budget Group, we will continue to learn the lessons from this summer and ensure that our offering is built to meet the needs of customers today and in the future.
We must continue to embrace new digital tools across the rental sector, improving efficiency and enhancing customer options as we look to set the wheels in motion for the future of travel.