Because I am travelling quite often I have become used to renting cars. Generally speaking, it’s a great idea to be able to drive yourself when you reach a destination, as it normally gives you a lot of flexibility.
Of course, there are some places in the world where I wouldn’t even contemplate driving myself, simply because local driving conditions are totally different from those I am used to, plus it is usually cheaper to hire a local who knows what they are doing.
Whilst car rental is good, it is not perfect. For instance, unless you are flying into a busy international airport, hire car office hours can be quite limited and you have to fit in with their schedule, not your own. Also, when you hire a car you normally pay for a full day’s rental, even if you just need the car for a couple of hours.
Those attitudes are changing, and will usually benefit customers.
One major rental company that is changing the way it operates is Hertz. It is equipping its existing fleet of vehicles with technology that enables them to be rented by the hour, day or week, and on the spot.
Previously called Hertz-On-Demand it is being re-branded as Hertz 24/7. Customers who sign up for a membership can use electronically coded membership cards to unlock the vehicles and select their rate option, such as by the hour or by the day, without having to visit a company office. They have even partnered with Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores in the United States to have Hertz 24/7 vehicles on their parking lots available for rental.
Other rent-by-the-hour schemes already operate.
Enterprise, a car rental company which currently operates in the United States, Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Germany, France and Spain, also has an hourly rental scheme and specialises in neighbourhood rental schemes which generally cost less than the major companies.
Car2Go is another option. They operate in 16 cities in the US and Europe, and their concept is different again.
With Car2Go you book it, drive it, and park it. Simple and straightforward. You can always find a vehicle in your area. You open it with the member card you get when you sign up. You go from A to B, park your car2go and that’s that. You can rent any available car2go you find parked locally, or reserve one online up to 30 minutes before you want to drive. That way you can save yourself the wait and get to your destination faster. Once you are there you can just leave the vehicle, or go back to it if you want to drive further.
With people using smartphones and other devices to run their lives, car rental is about to become a lot easier, with more focus on the needs of the customer rather than those of the rental company.