Hertz remodels London showroom

Car rental company, The Hertz Corporation, has said that it has fully remodelled its flagship London, Marble Arch location to meet the demands of the modern rental customer.

Following the makeover, Hertz’s London, Marble Arch location now features an open plan showroom with a concierge-style service, Hertz Supercar display, complimentary internet access and the option to use self-service kiosks that connect with an agent by video.

The modernised location also includes a ‘Recharge Zone’ for mobile phones and computer devices and a ‘Discovery Zone’ allowing customers to learn more about what’s on in London and the surrounding area via touch screens.

It also includes a ‘Kids Zone’ with computer-based games and drawing packages to keep children occupied. In addition, video walls featuring rotating scenes of London offer photo opportunities and add to the fun atmosphere for tourists and residents alike.

Michel Taride, group president, Hertz International, commented: ‘At Hertz we are always listening to our customers and implementing solutions to meet and exceed their needs.

‘Since we remodelled our Marble Arch and other key locations in the US, customer feedback for the new lifestyle experience has been overwhelmingly positive. We are in the process of rolling out new or updated formats to all of our global locations by 2015.’

In accordance with Hertz’s sustainability programme, the London Marble Arch location features energy efficient lighting and equipment, water saving fixtures, recycling of general and automotive wastes, as well as the use of recycled content for building materials and finishes.

The branch also offers an ‘on demand’ service that enables low emission, fuel efficient cars to be booked by the hour.

Hertz has been renovating its flagship locations, as well as updating other facilities across the world in an effort to rationalise the rental experience. So far 400 Hertz locations have been updated around the globe, with over 200 renewed so far in Europe, Australia and South Africa. Employees are being issued with modern uniforms as part of the renovation.

In the UK, new brand updates are planned at additional airports and neighbourhood locations throughout 2014, including those at Heathrow, Aberdeen and Newcastle airports.

Hertz expands UK network

Hertz UK Limited, a part of The Hertz Corporation, a general use car rental brand, will expand its network following the recent acquisition of CCL Vehicle Rentals Limited (CCL), the Dorset, UK-based national accident management provider.

The new branches will provide both Hertz and CCL customers with a complete range of rental vehicles including cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles, as well as special weekend rates for local leisure business. Additionally, Hertz is opening major hub locations for its CCL business and co-locating with body shops, hotels and repair facilities to serve local customers.

Michel Taride, group president of Hertz International, said: ‘We are fully committed to developing new and expanded partnerships in the car and van Insurance Replacement Market in the UK, offering customers pickup and delivery services, as well as growing leisure and business rentals. The expansion of our network in the country reinforces our commitment to the Insurance Replacement Market and local customers now and in the future.’

Neil Cunningham, general manager, UK & Europe Off Airport at Hertz UK Limited, said: ‘Hertz and CCL are a powerful combination to meet the needs of insurers and the wider market. By bringing our locations closer to the customer we hope to support greater choice and bring our comprehensive range of products and exceptional service to the industry and consumer alike.’

Hertz has opened 17 locations in the UK so far this year including Ashford, Barnstaple, Basildon, Bedford, Bolton, Bow, Bracknell, Catterick, Chatham, Colwyn Bay, Gravesend, Hastings, Islington, Newbury, Thetford, Walkden (Manchester), and Wembley. Hertz will continue the rapid expansion, with ten more locations to open in the next two months, mainly across Northern areas and the Midlands.

CCL Accident Support is a pioneer in accident management services to the authorised hire and credit hire market in the UK. With a turnover of over £21 million in 2012, the company now employs nearly 200 people across six UK locations.

Avis opens outlet at Heathrow Terminal 5

Avis, a US-based car rental company with operations worldwide, has announced the launch of a new rental outlet at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport.

Terminal 5 is the airport’s newest terminal, having been developed for the primary use of British Airways, and Avis is the first car rental company to provide a service from the terminal. As many as 80,000 passengers are now using the terminal each day, and Avis has been selected by British Airways and its Spain-based sister company, Iberia, to be their exclusive car hire partner at the location.

Prior to Avis opening its Terminal 5 facility, passengers intending to rent a car on arrival had to take a bus to the nearest car rental facility, which added 20 minutes to the time that it took them to leave the airport. Avis now offer direct access to cars from the terminal, and Avis Preferred customers also have a priority desk and conveniently parked cars at their disposal.

Passengers choosing to rent Avis cars from the terminal will also benefit from accruing Avios points each time they rent.

Managing director of Avis UK, Kaye Ceille, commented, ‘Our launch at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 forms an important part of our business strategy; to make high quality and accessible car hire available to those coming in and out of the UK, wherever and whenever they need it. We are delighted that Avis customers are the first to be served at Terminal 5 and are looking forward to offering a comfortable and convenient onward travel option.’

Florida backtracks on law that penalised British car hirers

The authorities in Florida, USA, have backtracked on a recently introduced law that penalised British visitors wishing to hire a car in the southern state.

The law stated that all drivers of hire cars in Florida had to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order that an English translation of their licence was always available for production. While the law was introduced to account for the many foreign language visitors that descend on Florida each year, there was no exemption for carriers of English language licences from the UK, Canada and Australia, all of whom had been able to drive in Florida on presentation of their domestic driving licences until the law was passed. Also, the law was introduced in January with no great publicity, so British travellers were only made aware of its implications when they arrived to pick up their hire car and were told that they did not have the correct documentation.

Florida-based car hire companies who saw the legislation as a threat to their very lucrative business in fly-drive holidays soon took up the issue, and the authorities initially bowed to the pressure by saying that the law would not be enforced. When it became clear that drivers were still wary of the possible implications of flouting a standing law, despite the authorities’ assurance that they would not be penalised, the law was finally repealed. So, once again British visitors to Florida only need to carry their UK driving licence by law.

However, Rosie Sanderson, head of International Travel at the AA, told the Daily Mail, ‘Car hire companies and insurance companies can still impose their own terms and conditions and I certainly advise that travellers check with their intended car provider prior to travel or obtain the IDP as a precautionary measure.’

An IDP can be obtained from a UK Post Office for £5.50 and lasts for one year.

ABTA protests Balearics car hire tax

The Association of British Travel Agents, ABTA, has asked authorities in the Balearic Islands to reconsider the imposition of a tax on rental cars that is due to be implemented from April this year.

The Spanish-owned Balearic Islands, the largest and most visited of which are Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera, are intending to impose the tax as an ecological measure, but ABTA is concerned that the added cost to a week’s car rental will be bad for tourism to the archipelago.

The tax is set to vary between €3 and €7.5 per day, to be levied depending on the CO2 emissions of the individual car that is rented. This would make the cumulative weekly rental cost as much as €52.5, or £46 more expensive than it is currently. The amount will be payable when the car is collected from the rental company, even if the rental was prepaid in the renters home country.

The tax is intended to raise €15m per year for the Balearics’ government, but ABTA has asked them to delay its introduction and to reconsider.

Abta head of destinations and sustainability, Nikki White, said, ‘Hasty decisions that don’t give travel businesses time to prepare and take tourists by surprise can have a very damaging impact. Taxing tourists does more harm than good in the long term.’

ABTA has an ally in Jose Manuel Soria, Spain’s tourism minister, who, commenting on the proposed tax at last November’s World Travel Market in London, described it as, ‘Unfair.’

It remains to be seen if the new tax will be imposed on its scheduled date of April 1 this year.

Budget UK launches luxury car rental service

Budget UK, a UK-based car rental company, has announced a new luxury car rental service to be known as Budget Premier.

With the introduction of the new service, customers will be able to opt for a luxury vehicle from any of three different categories to suit their specific needs or preferences. All Budget Premier cars will have satellite navigation, automatic transmission and a built in option to add an additional driver at no additional cost.

The three ranges that are available from the new service are the Executive range, aimed at relaxation and comfort and including the Audi A5 2.0, Jaguar XF and Mercedes S-Class; the Sports & Cabriolet range, for impressive, sporty models, including the Mercedes C250 Sport, Volkswagen Scirocco and Audi A5 Cabriolet; and the 4×4 SUV range, offering more passenger and luggage space, and including the Audi Q5 4×4, Mercedes ML 4×4 and Land Rover Discovery 4×4. The cars listed are of the type within each category, and customers may be provided with a similar model subject to availability.

The luxury rental option is available from Budget UK outlets in Central London, Heathrow Airport, Central Manchester, Manchester Airport and Scotland, with rental prices start from £84 per day.

The managing director of Budget UK, Kaye Ceille, said, ‘At Budget, we’re committed to providing our customers with a great choice of vehicles at even better prices. Budget Premier is a brilliant new service for those wanting to drive away in style without paying a premium, offering the very best in affordable luxury.’

Europcar Announces Addition of BMW Models to Fleet

Europcar, a France-based car rental company, will soon be offering its customers the choice of hiring a BMW.

Reacting to customer demand, the company will be including the BMW 3 and 5 Series vehicles as part of its Prestige by Europcar fleet. These vehicles are claimed to offer a superlative driving experience, and a number of customisation options for customers, and they can be booked for rental from February onwards.

Ken McCall, the managing director of Europcar UK Group, said, ‘BMW stands for engineering perfection, elegance and class, so we are really excited to be adding these vehicles to the Prestige fleet.

Whether it’s impressing clients on a business trip or turning heads at a special event, driving a BMW makes travelling a pleasure rather than a chore.

Our new partnership with BMW ensures Europcar customers continue to gain access to some of the most desirable cars on the road today. And available from our national network of locations, the Prestige by Europcar fleet takes the stress out of travel and adds that touch of luxury.’

Recently, the company also introduced van hire to its range and is offering discounted rentals on all van hire booked up until January 31, for reservations up until August 31, this year.

Ken McCall said, ‘The current economic climate continues to put pressure on businesses of all sizes. But for those organisations that can plan ahead, our January sale provides a great way to manage transportation costs through the year. Hiring, rather than having to find the funds for vehicle purchase, makes a lot of sense for businesses. And our January sale makes it even more cost-effective to add extra fleet to meet big orders, providing a vital lifeline for SMEs keen to keep their drivers on the road.’

Remain Careful on Roads in Freezing Winter Conditions, Advices Car Rental Companies

With January temperatures in the UK freezing, travellers using the roads have to be doubly careful while driving on treacherous terrain.

-Here are some winter driving tips:

-Keep time in hand for long distance drives, to avoid unnecessary hurries.

-Slow down in icy conditions for better control of the car, and allow longer distances to brake.

-Control skidding on ice by releasing the accelerator, and not braking.

-Be careful of shaded roads, which may hide icy road conditions.

-Wear sunglasses to avoid being blinded by the sun reflected on ice.

-Remain extra vigilant on roads and look out for pedestrians and cyclists, who could be experiencing similar difficulties.

In response, Europcar is urging motorists to think about the option of hiring a suitable car instead of relying on driving their own vehicle, for extra peace of mind.

Ken McCall, the managing director of Europcar UK Group, a company offering car hire services in Europe, said, ‘Driving conditions are more challenging during colder weather, with the risk of snow, fog and ice. That’s why it’s more important than ever to be driving a car in which you have confidence.

We are, therefore, encouraging people doing longer journeys over the winter months to think about car hire from Europcar. It offers travellers the assurance that they are in a reliable vehicle that has been fully maintained with all essential items, such as tyres, regularly checked. Plus Europcar vehicles are fully covered by 24 hour roadside assistance, at no extra cost.’

Car hire companies are offering vehicles that are de-iced and doubly checked for safety standards, with qualified staff members offering tips to handle a rented vehicle in difficult driving conditions for visitors to the UK.

Ken McCall says, ‘Our goal at Europcar is to give motorists the very best quality vehicles, ensuring they can drive confidently and safely in any weather. We are, therefore, well prepared for the next few weeks with good availability of vehicles right across the country.’

Sixt Opens Rental Outlet at London Gatwick Airport

Sixt, a European car rental company, has expanded its services in the UK by launching an outlet at London Gatwick Airport.

The company claims to be able to offer an exclusive portfolio of rental cars to its customers arriving at Gatwick, with rental models ranging from BMW, Opel, Volkswagen, Ford and Toyota to Audi Aston Martin, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Mercedes, in all sizes, including small and mid-size cars, SUVs, premium vehicles, and minibuses.

London Gatwick offers direct access from the terminal to the car hire collection and drop-off points, avoiding the need for the shuttle bus that caters for around 92,650 business travellers and holidaymakers who pass through the airport every day.

Paul McLoughlin, the managing director for Sixt Rent A Car, UK, said, ‘Sixt are thrilled to be moving into Gatwick Airport. It’s an important milestone in our ongoing growth across the UK. Our goal is to make it as simple as possible for businesses and holiday makers to have access to a range of high quality, well specified vehicles backed by unparalleled service at affordable prices. We look forward to working with the team at Gatwick and providing their passengers with the ultimate mobility solution.’

Julia Gregory, the head of surface transport at London Gatwick Airport, said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Sixt to Gatwick. Sixt is well known for its innovative approach to customer service so we look forward to working closely with them to deliver an even better experience for our passengers.

As one of the few airports to offer direct access from the terminal to car rental pickup points, our aim is to double car rental usage and offer our passengers even more choice.’

Enterprise Launches Operations in Portugal

Car rental company, Enterprise, is launching its operations for the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand in Portugal, through a franchise.

The company has appointed Guerin Car Rental Solutions as its franchise partner in Portugal, increasing its operations in Europe to six countries, including the UK, Germany, Ireland, France and Spain.

Peter A Smith, the vice president of global franchising for the company, said, ‘While this may be the first franchising agreement for the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand, it won’t be the last. In fact, we plan to continue this same growth strategy throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

We’re careful to choose strong, stable domestic businesses as our international franchise partners, and Guerin certainly meets that standard as a well-respected travel industry leader in Portugal’

Jim Burrell, the senior vice president for Europe, said, ‘We are committed to developing a comprehensive network of rental car businesses across Europe and beyond.

Since arriving in Europe in 1994, Enterprise has developed a strong brand presence through our corporately owned locations across the UK, Germany and Ireland. But our strategy is to be where our customers need us. Today this brings us to France and Spain with a well-established network of 350 branches and an outstanding and committed team of people.

From here we will quickly look to establish businesses in other markets as our customers’ needs extend beyond our current operations. We will seek to do this in the way that best suits the needs of each market, through affiliates, franchisees and other wholly owned operations’

Enterprise is also re-branding its newly acquired Citer and Atesa operations in France and Spain. The re-branding will add 350 new locations to the company’s car hire network. Today, the European Enterprise Rent-A-Car network operates more than 100,000 vehicles.