Has Hertz Figured Out the Rental Experience of the Future?

There have been only two major breakthroughs in the rental car industry, from a consumer perspective, in recent decades:

  1. The rental car ‘club’ you join where your car is pre-assigned and your billing information is on file — no need to wait in line or fill out paperwork.
  2. Choose your own vehicle, pioneered by National (Emerald Aisle) but recently starting to get copied by others.

Now Hertz is trying to think through their own innovations, a couple of which are hits but some are clear misses.

Hertz unveiled redesigned car rental locations, featuring on-site printing capabilities, mobile device recharging stations and retail options, according to the company. Redesigned locations sell food, drinks and some travel accessories. Hertz also is “piloting new telematics for its buses” that would allow travelers to use an app to determine the proximity of a Hertz bus to an airport terminal for pickup.

The new facilities are in place in London, Shanghai, Melbourne and San Diego so far.

I’m genuinely not sure why they need to provide a business center with printing facilities. I suppose it’s your last stop before heading to a meeting and you have forgotten to print your documents, it saves you a detour to the FedEx Kinko’s though I wonder what sort of quality they’ll offer or how helpful the staff will be. It’s hard to imagine they’ll do a better job than in he club lounge at the airport, let alone a proper business center.

Similarly, mobile device recharging stations don’t make sense to me — yes, we all need power, but how long is anyone expecting to stand around the rental lot?

Still, food and drink could be useful. We can’t take bottled water through security and we may arrive in the terminal at our destination too late where shops aren’t open. I do want to bring a bottle of water with me on a long drive, or have a couple when I get to the hotel if there’s no club lounge or the lounge is closed. So grabbing a bottle of water before leaving the lot could be good.

And for someone who would otherwise drive through a fast food restaurant on the way to their hotel late at night, they might just buy food at the rental counter, though I’d be shocked if they could do a particularly good job of food offerings.

The one piece of this that could be really helpful – -and also drive downloads of their app — is the ability to track where the heck is the rental bus? You see 3 Avis buses, 2 National buses, 4 Thrifty buses go ’round and wonder should I really have rented from Hertz? And this would put you at ease if a bus can be tracked to your location.

This only works where Hertz buses you to their own standalone locations. Nothing is better, of course, than airports where you walk straight out of the terminal to the rental car lot. And nothing is worse than ‘shared rental facilities.’

(HT: sobore on Milepoint)

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The introduction of zipcars was a breakthrough that also changed the rental industry, although maybe not as much for business travelers renting from the traditional companies.

  2. You are looking at it from the business travelers perspective . Traveling with family and kids many of the new services will be of great use. After picking up my rental car I am usually looking for a convenience store. Charging stations sometimes you just need an emergency charge up.

  3. @viewfromthewing
    -any idea if i can use my gold points to rent a car for someone else please?
    -also, anyway way to get a points-price (& cash for taxes?) quote without having any points in my account?

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