Although the younger generation uses mobile technology for everything, most car rentals still operate the same way as they did 20 years ago - there are counters, employees who will issue keys, sign the papers, check the documents, process the payment, and then walk around the car together with the person, who rents in order to make sure they’re on the same page as far as the existing damages go. This process is time-consuming, and when the flight arrives, car rental booths have queues up to the gates.
However, some car rentals have already introduced a fully automated mobile-first experience to get rid of the issues that a traditional approach faces. If you operate a car rental business, you'll discover the solution below.
Would moving online solve the issues?
The previous example explained the pain points of airport car rentals. Most in-city car rentals do not have the kind of rush hours that their airport branches do. Some car rentals have even set up a fully online reservation system that will allow you to book the car, verify your identity, pay in advance, and then wait until an employee brings the car to your doorstep.
However, even in the scenario mentioned above, there are the same people working behind the scenes to make all this happen. The difference is that they are not sitting in the booth and communicating with the customer face-to-face. They are sitting in the office and dealing with all of that remotely. And when the car is delivered, the handoff processes are still in-person.
Is there a better way?
While a fully online experience solves some of the problems that the traditional car rental model faces, is this really the way people want to rent cars? While website designs and user interfaces are improving every day, navigating and booking processes are still often painful experiences for the users.
It takes a lot of resources to build a mobile-friendly browser-based booking system, such as AirBnB or Booking.com. However, if you are using a phone when browsing their site, even they are naturally guiding you to download their app for a better user experience.
The younger generation manages all their day-to-day errands from their phone, so naturally, they would do the same when renting their car. And it would be even better if they don’t have to see another human in the process of getting and returning their car - doesn’t that sound familiar and quite like AirBnB’s standard self-check-in model?
Why not mobile apps?
If apps deliver a better user experience on mobile, then why not allow your customers to rent cars via your mobile app?
Development costs - so far the main obstacle has been the fact that car rental companies do not want to become software developers, and hiring a company to build the apps that actually work would end up being too expensive to deliver ROI in the near future. That’s why it would be easier to stick with the status quo.
Technical limitations - another reason why apps haven’t become a popular medium for car rentals is that apps have technical limitations, and human interaction is still required to issue keys, sign the documents, and make sure the car is in good condition when returned.
We see a huge trend in app usage for on-demand car-sharing, which is a different business model entirely. Since the car-sharing industry is relatively young, the companies are not restricted by the bureaucracy and procedures that traditional car rentals are facing. While car-sharing apps may take the business of short-distance trips away from traditional car rentals, they won’t threaten the bread and butter of long-term rental businesses just yet.
Tech to the rescue
How could a traditional car rental business step into the 21st century and automate the whole rental process without spending a fortune on app development while making sure to still leverage its standard operating procedures and current risk management practices?
With a proper technology suite that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
ATOM Mobility has been offering white-label software solutions for the mobility industry since 2019. With customers in more than 30 countries and 70 cities worldwide, any car rental business will be in good company.
An ideal car rental flow - with ATOM Mobility, a car rental would get its own apps for IOS and Android, where users would go through the following (simplified) journey:
Download the app and register.
Upload a driver’s license that will be verified by artificial intelligence (AI).
Choose dates, location, and the model.
Pay in advance.
Unlock the car with the app.
Enjoy the rental car.
Return and complete a standard walk-around-the-car handoff inspection powered by FocalX that automatically recognizes and reports any scratches.
The whole process is automated, and the information for each rental transaction will be available in the back-end for car rental businesses.
The freedom that this new mobile-first flow provides for both users and rental businesses is a great example of how technology can help to provide a better service. Opening up a new location is as simple as driving the cars to a new parking lot.
If you operate a car rental business, we’d be happy to chat - https://atommobility.com/demo