Low car stock. Increased vehicle maintenance costs. The rising cost of petrol. It’s no secret the car rental sector has faced a number of challenges for some time now and you may have experienced difficulties hiring a car for your travellers, particularly over the last few months. Will it become any easier soon?

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FACING CAR RENTAL COMPANIES?

The car hire industry was hit hard by the pandemic, resulting in many suppliers selling off stock that was sitting idle when travel stopped. When travel returned, however, replacing that stock has been difficult, not helped by a shortage of semi-conductors required for vehicle production. Plus, there was an uptick in travellers wanting to rent cars following COVID-19 as they felt safer away from crowds on public transport.

These issues around car rental are likely to last until at least the end of the year, according to Jacqueline Cahill, Senior Partnerships Manager Car for Reed & Mackay and TripActions. “And there are additional issues affecting car hire for business travel right now and at least for the next couple of months; these are issues we’re hearing about directly from car suppliers,” Cahill adds.

“One issue is competition from the leisure travel sector. Be aware it’s still peak season for leisure travel, so there’s additional demand for cars. And, from September, people will be returning to work after the holiday season, so there will be increased demand then too. Plus, keep in mind that demand is even higher when a public transport strike takes place, such as the recent and upcoming train strikes in the UK.”

6 WAYS TO MAKE CAR RENTAL EASIER

With these issues in mind, Cahill has some suggestions on how to ensure hiring a car for your business trip is as stress-free as possible.

1) Book as far ahead as possible. Once you know you’re going on that business trip, book your car. There’s a high probability that no vehicles will be available if you require a vehicle for the next day. And bear in mind that if a traveller wishes to change a pick-up time or location within 24 hours, there may be limited or no availability.

2) Book for longer than one day. For car rental, many suppliers have introduced a minimum rental period for bookings of two days. One-day rentals may automatically be declined so book for two days, even if you won’t use it for that long.

3) Car sharing. From a sustainability standpoint, have you considered car sharing? Or introducing this option in key locations? This can be a great option if you know there are a couple of other team members travelling on the same route.

4) Check other available rates. Even if you have negotiated rates with a preferred supplier, it’s sensible to also check others. For example, Reed & Mackay has preferred rates with multiple suppliers, which, during periods of high demand and limited supply, may be more competitive than your corporate rates.

5) Be aware of your car category. You may have to book a higher category car than you usually would get; and take care when you get to the check-out desk to ensure the car you’ve ordered is the one you’re given. If the car rental supplier says it can only offer you a higher category car, make sure you’re not paying the price for the upgrade. Once you’ve signed the agreement it’s hard to get a refund.

6) Alternative vehicles. Look at alternatives such as hiring a Black Car limousine, which you can also use as a ride share; it may be cheaper than renting a car.

HOW CAN REED & MACKAY HELP?

Reed & Mackay works with preferred suppliers to ensure competitive rates and extraordinary service across key global cities. Contact your Client Success Manager for more information on how we can help or email us at hello@reedmackay.com