The coronavirus is negatively impacting nearly every industry, but not all industries are impacted equally. Currently, the travel industry is especially hard hit—and that includes rental agencies. With few people traveling, the demand for rental cars is severely reduced and revenue has fallen significantly. Limited demand, however, doesn’t mean no demand. Those who need to travel are wary of both public transportation and ride-sharing. Essential workers may need to start commuting by car for the very first time. And car owners still need to get around while their vehicles are in the shop. In these circumstances, car rental agencies take on heightened importance.
It follows that car rental marketing needs to change to connect to customers and reassure the public that car rental is still an option. The customer service that car rental agencies offer will also have to be stepped up to stay competitive in a market where customers are limited. Car photos are a vitally important part of these changes.
Why Photos Are Important for Car Rental Agencies
Car rental agencies are well-known for being opaque about their car inventories and the specific vehicle a customer is renting. The potential vehicle is represented by a photo of a single vehicle that stands in for the multiple models within a class, and the car a customer ultimately ends up driving is often different from the car shown on the booking page. This is a common practice across nearly all auto rental agencies, and it is unique in an era where everything from specific airline seats to hotel rooms can be arranged well in advance.
While practical for agencies, this imprecise reservation system provokes reactions that range from consternation to excitement; some appreciate the surprise while others are disappointed by the vehicle they end up with. But, ultimately, this level of uncertainty isn’t acceptable in most parts of the travel or automotive industries. Now, car photos provide a simple way for agencies to enhance their customer service and can play a central role in car rental marketing.
Car Photos Can Improve Customer Satisfaction
At present, it is effectively impossible for car rental agencies to guarantee that a customer can rent a specific vehicle or vehicle model. The exception is certain premium or performance models, which are often only available at limited locations or offered by specialist agencies. The vehicles that make up the bulk of car rentals must be rented out based on class, as this approach allows car rental companies to more effectively fulfill their contractual obligations within the logistical constraints they operate under.
Car photos provide a way for car rental agencies to better serve and satisfy their customers within those constraints. Providing high-quality photos of every model available with each class at each location manages expectations and provides an improved level of customer service. Instead of hoping that they receive the vehicle in the class image on a rental agency’s booking page, customers will know what they’ll get in advance. This can greatly increase customer satisfaction, and it does so inexpensively without requiring a major readjustment of rental agency logistics. As such, it can be a central component of rental car marketing at any time but may play a more important role in our current environment.
Better Car Rental Marketing in a New World
Car rental marketing is centered on providing the vehicles people need in the locations that they need. Providing photos of all the cars available can encourage customers to choose the rental agency based on this transparency. In a time of reduced travel that is a critical advantage for a rental agency. Now more than ever, customers need to be certain that the vehicle they receive suits their needs while they perform essential work, whether they are looking for fuel efficiency, connectivity, safety, passenger comfort, cargo space, or even just an enjoyable driving experience. And no-contact handoff means customers will be relying on photos to understand the features of each vehicle more than ever before.
Today, rental agencies have to adapt quickly to new limits and find new opportunities. Those who shape their car rental marketing based on an understanding of changing needs will have a great advantage and allow customers to find what they need at a time when vehicles are helping to keep them safe and giving them the mobility they need.