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What’s Trending in Car Rentals for 2021

Domestic car rentals are up, way up, according to several of the travel advisors. Let’s take a look at some of the rental car trends, as we’re about to move into 2021.

One-way corporate rentals
“We have seen a huge increase in car rentals overall, and specifically in the one-way car market,”

“They are mostly corporate clients who no longer want to fly, but instead feel safer renting a car and driving themselves to the meeting location. For those who are staying longer at a new location, they will pick up their car in their home city and drop the car once they arrive at their new destination. Then when they are ready to return, they will rent another car and drive it back home.”

The biggest trend that I have observed is an increase in car-rental-only bookings (these are bookings that do not include air segments). Corporate travelers are opting for car rentals to conduct company business rather than air travel on short-haul flights … due to the hassle of airports and air travel. Travelers are opting for domestic trips accessible by car.”

Longer rentals
Pre-COVID, corporate rentals were typically booked during the week. But now, more travelers are picking up the vehicles and going somewhere for leisure for the weekend, and then keeping the rentals into the work week to conduct business.

We are “seeing longer-period car rentals, and that might be due to the fact that clients are keeping the rental and combining it with a road trip. Or, since some short-haul routes have been canceled by airlines, the client needs the car for a longer period of time for end-to-end business trips.”

Instead of Uber
Another trend some travel advisors have seen is customers booking rental cars at the same time that flights and/or hotels are booked.

“The main reason, in my opinion, that clients are booking a car rental at the same time as flights and/or hotels are booked is that where they would have used Uber at the destination, they are now opting for an individual car rental in order to decrease the chance of possible exposure to COVID-19,”. “I would think this is a trend that would continue for a long time to come. This goes back to peace of mind of knowing they are the only ones with access to the vehicle during the rental period.”

Domestic drive vacations
On the leisure side, road trips have, once again, become hugely popular as a vacation option. We all know that most people have an innate desire to travel and explore new places. It just doesn’t feel natural for most of us to sit still in one place for too long − and apparently, not even a pandemic could change that most basic expression of human nature.

Travel advisors can serve as the spark of inspiration that their clients need to get them thinking about taking to the road, as a family, with friends, or even as a grand solo adventure. Even if this was not a segment that advisors focused on pre-pandemic, it’s a good place to put some extra effort in now, especially since it looks like most international travel restrictions are going to continue for quite some time.

Advice to other travel advisors: “Simply offer the car rental as an alternative for a passenger who is still concerned about flying in the COVID environment.”

Perhaps the most important action to take is to keep the lines of communication open with clients. Be sensitive to how they may be feeling about safety concerns during the current global health crisis. But also offer them solutions and motivation to get out there and travel safely for both business and leisure, as their lifestyle and comfort levels allow.

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