Customers across all service sectors now demand more from the companies with which they do business and the vehicle rental industry is no exception. Following an extremely challenging few years, in which the pandemic halted domestic and international travel, traditional vehicle hire firms are now bouncing back.
However, established names face increased competition from new entrants, many of whom have embraced the latest technologies to offer customers a more streamlined car hire experience. From electric vehicles to enhanced fraud detection, here are just four innovations that are modernizing the vehicle rental industry.
1. Additional digital payments options
Nowadays, consumers expect to be able to pay for their goods and services securely online and to be given the choice of a range of payment options. When it comes to vehicle hire, innovations in digital payments mean firms can offer drivers the ability to pay for their initial rental or to amend their booking and extend the length of their agreement “on the go”. This is an important feature when the customer base is so mobile. Innovation in digital payment extends to the use of cryptocurrency payments, the popularity of which is on the rise in the U.S. among consumers and businesses.
2. Availability of electric and hybrid vehicles
The growth of electric and hybrid cars in the mainstream market creates both opportunities and challenges for established vehicle rental firms. On the one hand, it means being able to offer customers a wider choice of vehicles and to meet demand for less-polluting alternatives, both of which are great for marketing purposes. Indeed, Hertz, Avis and Enterprise have recently signaled a shift towards EVs. However, on the other hand, offering electric and hybrid vehicles involves additional investment, not just in the cars and trucks offered but in charging infrastructure and maintenance capabilities.
3. Enhanced fraud detection and security checks
One key innovation in the vehicle hire sector is the introduction of software that automates fraud detection and security processes. Developments such as AI-powered driver’s license verification software lets firms run checks on their customers and their documents to detect fake identification and prevent other occurrences of fraud, including underage drivers, which is vital in an industry such as vehicle rental. To ensure customers comply, it is important the verification process is seamless and straightforward. The idea is to catch fraudsters, not to overly burden legitimate drivers who just want to rent a car, and such solutions make that possible.
4. Improved customer service
From AI chatbots to app-based booking systems, vehicle rental firms can now employ a range of technologies that offer their customers improved service. Many firms now give customers the ability to conduct their whole transaction digitally, from finding and securing a vehicle to verification and payment, all the way through to having the rental car dropped off at their chosen address. Of course, the best vehicle rental firms also understand the importance of continuing to provide human customer service agents who can offer assistance over the phone, online and in person.
As technology evolves, vehicle rental firms will be able to introduce further innovations across their operations to enhance and streamline their offerings. But the bottom line is that customers will still seek out firms that offer quality, reliability and service, however those things are delivered.