The car rental giant is growing and going global, but has never lost its neighborhood touch
While the rounds of consolidation, new technology and the rise of the sharing economy seem to have muted the ability of some rental car providers to grow and launch new initiatives, Enterprise Holdings is a company that is bucking that trend.
“We have seen strong results throughout our industry and at Enterprise,” says vice president Brad Carr at Enterprise Holdings, which owns the Enterprise, National and Alamo car rental brands. “Enterprise Holdings and its affiliate Enterprise Fleet Management together offer a total transportation solution. Combined, these businesses – which include car rental and car sharing, truck rental, corporate fleet management and retail car sales – surpassed $20 billion in revenue and operated nearly 1.9 million vehicles throughout the world in fiscal year 2016 which ended July 31.”
There’s a common misconception that with the popularity of car sharing services like Uber and Lyft, car rental companies are hurting. However, according to a recent article in USA Today, “Rental car companies are expanding their fleets and seeing an uptick in revenue despite the growing popularity of ride-hailing services such as Uber.”
The article went on to suggest the car rental industry must pay attention and keep up with emerging technology, but also added, “Industry officials and observers say rental cars remain a popular option for those who need to travel longer distances, companies sending employees on the road and insurers who need to provide vehicles to customers who temporarily don’t have their own.”
That’s definitely the reality that Enterprise Holdings is finding to be true.Maintaining Success
Through its regional subsidiaries, Enterprise Holdings operates a global network of more than 9,000-fully-staffed airport and neighborhood locations under the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.
“We saw our US airport car rental revenue increase by more than 10 percent last year,” Carr says. “Today, our brands now account for more than 37 percent of the US airport market share – compared to less than 29 percent in 2007, the year we acquired Vanguard. In fact, our business rental program saw significant growth as well, with our Enterprise and National brands continuing to offer the most comprehensive and integrated business solution at the airport and home-city locations.”Initiatives Abound
Enterprise is in the process of rolling out its LaunchPad experience, where employees will use a tablet and have real-time access to the locations of cars in the rental fleet, allowing them to immediately assist customers using pre-filled reservation information.
“Ultimately, we are moving the process from transaction to interaction,” Carr says. “By the end of the fall, well over half of our US regional operations will be using the new technology at their car rental locations.”
Over the summer, the company also added the AirPlus business travel payments solution, a valuable new option for its business partners, giving corporate customers increased access to a car rental company that’s the world’s largest in terms of fleet size and number of employees.
“The new partnership with AirPlus expands Enterprise Holdings’ payment options and underlines how car rental has become integral to international business travel,” Carr says. “AirPlus ensures better reporting and a more streamlined and effective service that reduces the administration of employee expense management. It provides organizations with improved, fully itemized reporting on car rentals that is VAT-compliant and ensures consistent management reporting no matter where in the world their rentals take place, or where the customer lives.”Sustainability Trends
The Enterprise Holdings fleet – the largest in the world – is also among the most fuel-efficient. It offers late-model, well-maintained vehicles, with an average odometer reading of less than 16,000 miles and average age of eight months. The company offers thousands of hybrids as well.
“We firmly believe providing long-term benefits and seamless solutions to customers, partners and communities is the key to sustainability in the transportation and travel sector,” Carr says. “However, we’re also seeing more and more contract-related questions about top-line sustainability issues. That means we work to help organizations better understand the long-term impact of corporate travel in terms of cost, plus environmental considerations, efficiency and duty of care.”
Enterprise Holdings’ car rental brands continue to offer services that help major corporate accounts better manage their carbon footprints. For example, it provides an opportunity to purchase carbon offsets as part of vehicle rentals – through partnerships with TerraPass in the US and Canada, and ClimateCare in the UK – and the option to request customized carbon emissions reports based on vehicle type and miles traveled.
Last year, 120,700 metric tons of carbon were offset, which – based on US Environmental Protection Agency’s standards – is the equivalent of saving 13.5 million gallons of gasoline and 280,700 barrels of oil.
“We’ve also offered EV’s strategically in certain areas and locations where demand called for them for many years,” Carr says. “We have always worked with our manufacture partners to provide a platform for exposure. We know that the car rental experience is often an extended test drive, so we are committed to offering our customers the opportunity to experience the latest vehicle technologies.”Car Sharing
According to Carr, because Enterprise started as a neighborhood operation, the company has always been engaged at the local level, and that’s why the leadership team at Enterprise views car rental and car sharing as an integral part of the local transportation infrastructure in towns and cities of all sizes.
“Regardless of whether we’re providing access 24/7 with a quick card swipe, or offering customized service from a bricks-and-mortar facility, our service has always been a direct reflection of local demand and consumer preferences,” he says.
Enterprise CarShare operates as an extension of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand, which covers more than 5,000-fully-staffed neighborhood branch offices in the US alone. These readily accessible offices – all located within 15 miles of 90 percent of the US population – provide affordable transportation options to a wide variety of consumers, including those who rely on mass transit during the week in large markets, as well as those who simply cannot afford to purchase or maintain a vehicle on their own.
Enterprise’s longtime focus on sustainable local transportation alternatives also includes car sharing, vanpooling, online ride-matching and other services. For example, Enterprise CarShare is available in more than 35 states, and offered through more than 125 university campuses and hundreds of business and government agencies across the country. US programs range from Washington, DC, and Brooklyn to Boston and San Francisco.
“Zimride by Enterprise, the largest web-based ridesharing and carpooling network in North America, serves customers through a private online ride-matching network of more than 130 universities and corporate campuses,” Carr says. “In addition, Enterprise Rideshare offers vanpooling services to more than 35,000 riders in nearly 40 key US markets. And most recently, Enterprise added vRide vanpooling service to its portfolio of services.”Global Initiatives
Today, the Enterprise, National and Alamo brands operate in more than 85 countries and territories, including North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean and Europe, as well as parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
“We are able to fully leverage our diverse portfolio of car rental brands globally,” Carr says. “Our expansion strategy enables us to provide affordable and accessible ground transportation options to more and more consumers throughout the world.”
The company also opened the first Exotic Car Collection branch in the UK and in Zurich, Switzerland earlier this year. In total, Enterprise has opened 39 Exotic Car Collection branches in the US and one in Canada.
“The service started by providing vehicles to owners whose own luxury vehicles were being repaired. Now we are making these high-end cars available to individuals who want to travel in style for business for or pleasure, as well as people who want to enjoy an exciting, novel and exclusive driving experience with an eye-catching rental car,” Carr says.
Enterprise Holdings is the largest car rental company in the world as measured by revenue, fleet and employees. Its annual revenues also place it near the top of the travel industry, exceeding all other rental car companies, and most airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators and online travel agencies.