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Avis boosts rental sales with mobile-first connected car features

Avis Budget Group is retooling the car rental experience with a new feature in its mobile application enabling customers to upgrade a rental by swiping and use remote control features for their vehicle, showcasing the relevancy of connected car technology for travelers.

Consumers can take advantage of the Avis Now feature to control more aspects of their rental experiences through their smartphones, from choosing their desired vehicle color to viewing details within the rental agreement. Instead of spending time waiting in long lines at Avis counters, mobile users can download the Avis app for their iOS and Android devices to enhance their travel journeys and receive real-time notifications about their trips.

“Our goal with Avis Now is to allow our customers to transact with us in the method that they find the most rewarding and efficient—that was our main focus when developing these new features,” said Scott Deaver, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Avis Budget Group. “In fact, 9 out of 10 of people who have tried the new app features are likely to use the app again during future Avis rentals.”

Reengineering car rentals
The Avis Now feature, which is accessible within the brand’s mobile app, was designed to provide customers with added flexibility, control and ease over their rental experiences. It is compatible with all available cars in Avis’s fleet, ensuring that individuals will receive access to the full inventory.

Consumers enrolled within the Avis Preferred loyalty program are now able to complete a slew of actions directly from their smartphones. Using Avis Now, they can see which rental cars are available in real-time and may choose to upgrade or exchange a vehicle prior to arriving at the lot, or while on the lot.

If travelers have a change of heart regarding their vehicle’s color or model, they can simply swipe and tap for other options to update their booking.

This feature may come in handy for indecisive customers. For example, if an individual originally booked a sedan but spots an enticing red convertible on the car lot, he or she can easily change the booking to include that vehicle instead.

Additionally, customers dreading the notion of waiting in lines at Avis counters can opt to control their entire rental experience directly from their mobile devices. They can confirm, cancel or extend a rental within the app, as well as return the car sans assistance.

The app can also be leveraged to lock and unlock a car’s doors, as well as flash the headlights to help customers locate their vehicle on the lot.

Travelers will receive real-time app updates regarding their trip, such as push notifications informing them when their rental car is ready for pick up. Users can also confirm mileage or fuel within the app, access rental agreements and call for on-demand assistance in case of emergency.

Connected car rentals
As consumers become more comfortable with connected car technology – which has permeated mainstream vehicle manufacturers as well – car rental companies are hopping on the bandwagon with increased fervor as they fend off competition and ramp up to retain customers.

The automotive and insurance sectors will also find opportunities to glean valuable customer data from the plethora of connected car experiences rolling out to markets, resulting in more optimized services and offerings (see story).

Avis seeks to anticipate consumers’ needs as more connected cars enter the world, a notion that prompted the company to leverage smartphone technology in its bid to reshape the car rental experience.

Avis Now is currently available at more than 50 United States locations, with international rollouts set to occur within the next few months. Individuals must be Avis Preferred members in order to use the mobile feature. The loyalty program is free to join.

“Technology is drastically reshaping the car rental experience for our customers – and for the better,” Mr. Deaver said. “As smartphones and connected cars increase in number globally, we’re imagining all possibilities and ensuring Avis continues to innovate and diversify our business.

“We worked closely with our customers to find out what they felt were the biggest challenges with the current rental process and worked to create a mobile solution to overcome those challenges.”