The car rental industry was worth an estimated $58 billion annually in 2016 and grew by another 3% in 2017. It is an industry that is also fiercely competitive. There are major brands like Hertz and Budget that have been market leaders for decades and have so much authority and clout, that it makes it difficult for new or smaller entrants to grow in the market.
Independent operators will find it tough to compete against national and global brands that have big budgets behind them. Competing on budget will put the independent car hire retailer out of business. So instead, clever marketing tactics need to be implemented to grow their annual bookings, revenue and market share.
Here are a few tactics that can be used.
Position the brand as a specialist
If you look at the major brands, they will offer car hire services across several types of vehicles. From small cars to people movers and more. The independent retailer should instead look to position themselves as a micro-niche specialist, such as vintage cars, small compact cars with unlimited kilometres, people movers or sports cars.
This should also improve the conversion rate of people that interact with your business, as well as the number of referrals that you will gain.
Partner with car hire comparison websites
There are several car hire comparison websites that will drive traffic or bookings to your website in exchange for a fee. The payable fee can range from 5-15% of the revenue generated from the booking. To get this to work, reach out to car hire comparison websites that receive enquiries and ask them how you can develop a partnership. You can click here to see an example of a car rental comparison provider.
Partner with related suppliers.
There will be several other suppliers where you can provide complementary services. For example, you can reach out to local hotel providers and provide their guests with a bonus or discount if they go with your services. Additionally, a similar offer could be offered to backpacking hostels or flight providers.
Advertise on platforms where there’s consumer intent
Advertising platforms like search ads on Google, Bing and Yahoo provide inbound traffic that has a high intent to convert. The fees per click will vary depending on the amount of competition bidding on the keyword.
Retarget people that have already shown an interest in what you offer
The cost to acquire a new customer is quite high. So it is ideal for independent businesses to use a marketing process that will allow them to earn referrals for a low cost. For example, you can build an email database of people that sign-up to your website and then remarket to them in the future.
You can also tag people that have visited your website and retarget them with ads for a lower cost. This could be done using the Google Display Network or Facebook ads.
Focus on your conversion process
This is crucial to your business’s success since the advertising budget can easily be wasted if customers fail to convert. Test the landing pages to see how you can improve conversions. Also test the follow-up process to see if upsells or cross-sells are also working.
Below is a video that shows a live conversion rate optimisation audit on a car rental provider.
By implementing these marketing activities, independent car rental businesses should see an improvement in their competitiveness, bookings and inbound revenue over the next 12 months. The activities are proven and won’t break the bank, which is necessary for independent car rental suppliers.