A view from Easirent on the trends set to disrupt and shape the car hire industry
We interviewed Paul Hanley, Managing Director and Co-founder of Easirent, to discuss how the car hire industry is evolving, and which trends he anticipates will shake-up in the industry in the coming years.
Easirent is a car rental company based at most major UK airports and now expanding to the US. They have over 4,300 vehicles in the UK & Ireland and aim to cater to every customer need, whether it’s a small car or prestige Mercedes or BMW. Their steady expansion has been built on the unbeatable prices, fantastic cars and excellent service from their talented staff - as well as their focus on customer satisaction.
What are the current trends shaping the car hire industry?
Customers are utilising technology to compare products and book the best product at the best price. Not only can the consumer check the best price, which has been available for some time, they can also compare service, inclusions/exclusions – all from a mobile app or desktop. Where comparing simply by price may have driven some service qualities down, the comparison of service scores has helped pull this back up. Consumers want to know what they are getting for their money and likewise, it is important for car rental providers that their customers are well informed.
How do you think the industry will change in the next 3 – 6 years, and why?
In-car technology, mainly automation, will be a major game changer in car rental in the coming years. Driverless cars will change everything, from pick-up to drop-off and everything in between. There will be no need to go into a car rental office, sign any paperwork, pay any insurance, etc… The customer will make the reservation and the car will collect the customer, not the customer collecting the car.
What technologies do you see disrupting the industry in the next 3 – 6 years?
Car Sharing such as Uber will continue to disrupt car rental, however, I strongly believe there is a place for both business models. Consumers will still need car rental for fixed periods i.e. a family vacation, a business trip, etc.. This is where traditional car rental firms fit in, albeit the car will drive itself. If anything, car sharing apps will help increase the demand for car rental in the future, as people move from 2 car families to 1 or even none. As driverless technology becomes commonplace, people will use car sharing for their daily commute and have no need for car ownership. When a car is needed for anything more than the daily commute/single journey, a car is booked from a car rental provider for a fixed period of days.
Conversely, what do you think will stay the same?
Car Rental will almost certainly evolve in the coming years, but it is going to take a number of years to do so. Some people will still insist they are a safer driver than a computer and they will still want to drive a traditional car. As a result, most current services will remain the same during the transition.
What technologies and disruptive approaches are you taking?
We are investing heavily in technology, both online and in our rental offices. In the next 6 months, customers will be able to completely avoid the rental counter and simply drive the car away. Customers booking with Easirent can complete an online check-in from their computer or through our app, meaning they have no need to complete any documents in the office. This greatly speeds up pick-up times, creating a frictionless environment for the customer. As well as streamlining the pick-up process, we are also carefully selecting cars with the most modern technology, such as anti-collision and driver assist features. As well as boosting service levels to customers, we are hoping to see a reduction in road traffic accidents, which in-turn will reduce our huge insurance costs, allowing us to pass these savings onto consumers.
How do you think that mobile will change the way the industry operates?
As with most industries, the mobile is changing everything. Through our app, our customers can completely manage everything about their rental. The only thing they can’t do is start the car, which I believe will happen soon with the use of NFC or Bluetooth technology. Although the key has been updated over the years, it is still needed for the car, which I believe is unnecessary. It will also be hugely helpful to our customers when keys go missing. Usually in the middle of nowhere!