Top Car Rental Companies
Table of Contents
Alamo Car Rentals
Thirty years ago Alamo was the ninth largest car rental company in the United States. Today it occupies third place. It owes its ascent in the ranks to a steady determination to be true to its original mission, which was to cater to vacationers by offering cars at off-airport locations at inexpensive rates. It also has concentrated on providing great customer service designed to make the car rental process easier. A major initial attraction, which competitors later sought to match, was its unlimited mileage program.
Today, Alamo says it serves 15 million travelers a year through its fleet of more than 150,000 cars. It operates out of 148 locations in the United States and Canada and 275 international locations, mostly in Europe.
• The company was established in 1974 at four Florida locations. Ten years later, with its sales to the vacation market climbing dramatically, Alamo began to move into the business market. In 1988 it expanded internationally, opening rental facilities in London, followed by Scotland. It added locations in the United States, too, and just three years later the company owned 100,000 cars at or near 92 of the busiest U.S. Airports and was grossing $600 million a year.
In 1995 Alamo became the first car-rental company to provide internet booking, followed by the industry’s first online check-in system in 2005. In 2007 the company was bought by the Taylor family and two years later the family adopted Enterprise Holdings as the name of the parent company. Enterprise Holdings, based in St Louis, also owns Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rentals.
• The parent company, Enterprise, prides itself on managing its operations based on what it calls “sustainability.” It works with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to create the next generation of alternative fuel technology from plant sources; the Arbor Day Foundation and U.S. Forest Service to plant a million trees in North America and Europe; and with other organizations on planning future transportation.
• The company’s name was chosen for the position it would occupy at the beginning of directories rather than for the historical landmark in Texas.
• Alamo is the official rent-a-car company for Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts.
Avis Car Rentals
Avis Car Rental, the second largest car rental agency in the world, operates from about 5,450 locations in more than 165 countries. It is owned by Avis Budget Group, Inc. The parent company also owns Budget Rent a Car and Budget Truck Rental.
• When it was founded in 1946, Avis was among the first companies to rent cars from locations at airports. During the 1950s, it expanded quickly through franchises and corporate-owned facilities. Over the years, the company changed hands a number of times and eventually in 1987 became employee owned. In 2001 it was bought by Cendant Corporation, which later split into four companies, one of which is Avis Budget Group, the parent company of Avis Car Rental.
• Avis introduced its highly successful “We try harder” campaign in 1962. The slogan played off the company’s standing as the second largest rental company behind Hertz, implying that it had to do more to win its customers. In 2012 Avis adopted a new slogan, “It’s Your Space,” but the company still refers to its original slogan today.
• The company’s strong commitment to providing excellent customer service is reflected in its innovations, such as the Wizard system, its proprietary technology for reservations; the Roving Rapid Return, which allows customers to bypass the counter using a handheld computer terminal; and Avis Cares, aimed at promoting renter and employee safety. In addition, customer loyalty programs offer members counter-bypass service and rewards, including free rental days and upgrades. Avis Access is a comprehensive program for travelers who have disabilities.
• Avis places as much emphasis on its relationships with customers as it does with its employees, offering good compensation and opportunities for advancement, and a supportive corporate culture.
• Avis recently was named to the 2015 Brand Keys Loyalty List, in which it was ranked as the highest rated car rental company in the list and one of the top 40 consumer brands.
• The company places a strong emphasis on environmental concerns, offering eco-rides with hybrid cars, renting cars with higher fuel efficiency ratings, maintaining vehicles so they are more energy efficient, and offering to make your rental car “carbon neutral.”
Budget Car Rentals
Budget Car Rental, which is part of the Avis Budget Group, was established in 1958 with the aim of being a company for those rental car users who are budget conscious, hence the name. It did so by charging lower daily and mileage rates than the leading airport-based rental firms. In its 3,000 locations in more than 120 countries, the company continues to concentrate on those parts of the industry that are looking for value. There are about 800 Budget operations in the United States, of which 600 are company-run and 200 licensees. Internationally, 150 are company-run and 1,800 licensees.
• Budget established its “Budget Business Program” in 2003, offering low corporate rates to small and mid-sized businesses which it figured were always looking for a way to save their companies money. In the same year, the company launched “Budget Pride,” a program that seeks to motivate employees, figuring that satisfied workers will lead to satisfied customers.
• Always seeking to provide what it believed customers wanted, in response to widespread consumer demand Budget instituted a smoke-free policy in 2009 that included not only its vehicles but also employees and contractors who drive its vehicles.
• Seeking to become a force for good in the communities in which it operates, Budget donates to organizations within those areas as well as nationally. It solicits suggestions from consumers on the organizations to which it should donate.
Dollar Rent A Car
When Dollar was founded in 1966 in Los Angeles, its first name was “Dollar A Day Rent A Car.” In 1990 it was bought by Chrysler and became part of the Pentastar Transportation Group. In November 2012, Hertz Global Holdings bought Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group of which Dollar Rent A Car is a part. Today Dollar has 570 worldwide rental car locations in 61 countries, with more than 260 in Canada and the United States.
• One of the ways in which Dollar seeks to stand out from among the competition is through its attention to exceptional customer service. Each employee is taught this approach through the company’s training program. The company also seeks to stand out with low rates within the budgets of vacation travelers. It strives to make its name synonymous with value and convenience. In addition, the company provides business travel and vacation planning services at most of its locations. It also operates a travel partner program with Southwest, American, United, Hawaiian and other airlines.
• Dollar emphasizes safety. Almost all of its cars are equipped with passenger-side airbags and the company adopts strict guidelines on the use of child safety seats, including infant seats, which are offered at all rental locations. Child safety locks are standard on most of the Chrysler vehicles that Dollar rents.
• Dollar offers vehicles that fit the type of vacation trips to which its customers are headed. At skiing locations, it offers Jeep four-wheel-drive vehicles as well as vehicles with attached ski racks. In states where sun rather than snow is the norm, Dollar offers convertibles. For regular family vacations it has a large selection of minivans available.
• The first vehicles in Dollar’s fleet were a few Volkswagen Beetles with manual transmissions and no air conditioning. Clearly, its aim was to appeal to those who were prepared to change gears themselves and suffer on hot days to obtain the most reasonable prices in the industry. The fleet soon added more traditional vehicles, particularly in 1990 when the company was bought by Chrysler.
• The name Dollar seems logical enough: Dollar, as in “save a dollar” or “spend only a dollar.” After all, many countries around the world, including the United States, have currencies that are denominated in dollars, such as Canada, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. But the company constantly runs into those people who appear to be unfamiliar with the word and its spelling. Examples that are cited by the company are: “Dolar,” Spanish for dollar, the use of which is understandable, but which is also uncomfortably close to the Spanish word for grief, “dolor.” “Doller,” a common misspelling of the English word dollar, crops up regularly. And then there is “Dolla,” which could be a result of the popularity of a hip-hop artist by that name.
Hertz Car Rentals
Hertz is not only the largest rental car company by sales it is also the oldest. Indeed, in a little more than seven years, The Hertz Corporation will be 100 years old. Its history dates back to 1923 when, at the age of 22, Walter Jacobs founded a rental car company with 12 Model-T Fords in Chicago, known as “Rent a Ford.” He sold the company to John D. Hertz in 1923, but continued to play a significant role in the running of the company until he retired in 1960.
Under Hertz, the company rapidly launched a program of expansion, seeking to be the pioneering company as soon as new opportunities and markets opened. In only two years after he bought the company, Hertz had expanded its operations from coast to coast across the country. Soon he was offering not only advanced reservations, but also a service that made cars available for vacationers soon after they left the train. When air travel started to take off, he opened the first airport rent-a-car facility at Chicago’s Midway Airport in 1932, introducing a rental car program called Fly-Drive.
By 1950 Hertz had opened the company’s first European location — in France. Five years later Hertz became the first rental car company to have 1,000 locations. Today the company operates in 145 countries around the world in North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australasia, the Middle East and Africa. Company-operated locations are in 18 countries, the rest being franchises, making a total of 10,300 locations. That makes it, Hertz says, the largest worldwide airport general-use car rental brand.
• Hertz’s main themes always have been a commitment to speed and convenience, one which it has advanced further with the use of technology in recent years. It began using computers in the 1960s and 1970s to speed the rental process, introduced a program to bypass the airport counter in 1989, and in the 1990s opened a website and put on-board navigation systems in many of its cars.
• Hertz offers a wide range of choices, from its “green collection” of environmentally friendly cars, such as hybrids, to luxury models that are available in its Dream Cars Collection.