A view from easyCar Club on trends, disruptive technologies and more
easyCar is one of the world’s largest online car hire services, providing car hire comparison for over 800 suppliers across 45,000 locations. The site offers a best price guarantee, ensuring that customers always get the best deal.
In their continuous quest to provide more access and variety at a better price, easyCar launched a peer-to-peer car rental service giving customers access to thousands of privately owned vehicles in convenient locations across the UK. And in an industry first, these privately owned cars are included in the search results alongside traditional suppliers.
We caught up with Jin Ng, Head of Data and Trends at easyCar, to discuss trends, disruptive technologies and more. Ng has been at easyCar for three and a half years, and is responsible for analytics and product development for easyCar Club. A self-professed data-mining geek, he uses data insights to help drive a positive user experience and ultimately, growth in car sharing participation on the platform.
Tell us a bit about yourself Jin
Before joining easyCar, I spent most of my working life in professional services supporting multinationals on workforce analytics and human capital issues in corporate transactions. My first sharing economy exchange was swapping my parking space for a free cup of coffee every morning.
What do you think are the current trends shaping the car hire industry?
There has been a lot of vertical consolidation with traditional hire companies venturing into the car sharing space and automotive companies (OEMs) heavily investing in shared mobility and cars as a service (CaaS). From a retail front, with the ever growing importance of search marketing, aggregators continue to dominate – the large players are driving traffic and this is critical in helping suppliers manage their utilisation.
How do you think the industry will change in the next 3 – 6 years, and why?
OEMs have recognised that their industry is under threat with changing consumer preferences (away from car ownership) and are acting quickly to hedge against this through a range of mobility services which will shake up the car hire industry in a way traditional car hire firms have been too slow to achieve. This will result in more choice for the consumer, as models such as by-the-minute and point-to-point rentals become more mainstream and the lines continue to blur between self-drive and other forms of ridesharing.
Conversely, what do you think will stay the same?
Cars will still need to be driven (in the 3-6 year horizon).
What technologies do you see disrupting the industry in the next 3-6 years?
ID verification services and higher confidence in key-less access and telematics solutions will change the way in which many of the traditional car hire operate; think no queues, no aggravating rental depot experiences and cheaper insurance.
What disruptive approaches are you taking?
easyCar runs its own peer-to-peer car hire platform, enabling individual car owners to rent out their vehicles when they don’t need them (the Airbnb for cars!) This allows us to offer the widest network of vehicles; we run this alongside our price comparison engine so Jane's Fiat Punto or Abdul's BMW 1 Series from around the corner features next to the usual car hire brands. This asset-light model means we spend more of our resources offering choice and convenience to our renters.
How do you think that mobile will change the way the industry operates?
We're already seeing how mobile now plays a large part in the way consumers engage and transact – the car hire industry has perhaps been a little sheltered from this aggressive shift given the industry is predominantly not yet on-demand. However, this presents an opportunity for existing players to get first movers' advantage. In reality, there is quite a bit to do to remove the operational friction that we've long seen in the car hire sector and mobile is definitely (one of the) answers to that.
What are the biggest challenges that the industry is facing?
Ridesharing/ ride hailing being an effective & affordable alternative to self-drive and the dwindling numbers of the younger generation learning to drive.
How do you think these challenges can be addressed?
By making self-drive accessible, catering to a wide range of needs and preferences. For example, peer-to-peer car hire can help justify the cost of car ownership (on the car owner side), while it also makes car hire local and convenient (on the renter side). Depending on the extent to which OEMs and governments can commit to the electric vehicle agenda, particularly in terms of affordability for the consumer, then this can also appeal to the younger demographic.
What are/ will be the main benefits that working with Skyscanner offers your business?
This helps keep our brand front of mind.