Car rental marketing story #1: Pre-book strategy

HOW TO SET A GOOD, CHEAP BUT EFFICIENT PRE-BOOK MARKETING STRATEGY

 

Yield management is generally associated with high sophisticated pricing tools and state-of-the-art inventory controls. In practise, it is a matter of fact that it unfortunately fells more often into question of managing rate grids on excel and simple stop-sell management actions. However, Yield Management should also be used as a business driver to steer additionnal business. To do so, using simple marketing tools available can be pretty efficient.

Due to fleet cost contrainst, car rental operators are looking at high volume that guarantees the financial balance of their bank loans. Even though they should focus on building a profitable business, they are seduced by intermediairies which are able to steer big volume of rental days. The car rental operators therefore subcontrat their marketing to this(these) broker(s) loosing little by littly the control of their clients at time of booking.

However, it is possible to set some marketing actions to drive direct clients back to its own reservation engine. To attrack them, the operator should communicate using some easy-to-use and cheapt direct marketing technics :

  1. identify a subject or an event that can generate some buzz
  2. link an offer that talks to the targeted audience
  3. tell a story following Google requirements which is to write an original text (no copy-paste from any source) with a minimum of 300 words
  4. track this offer with a specific contract code configured in the system
  5. measure the results and take corrective actions for the future

The example Europcar Martinique, franchisee in Carribean island, is interesting. Elodie Gazeau, General Manager of Corail-Europcar Martinique, says

our clients do not come to Martinique Island to drive a car but to visit. Thus, our posts, articles, our blog and our partnerships have been set to tease the tourists to have a better experience of their trip. With local suggestions and advices, our client will have enjoy more their car journey thoughout our great island.

Operationnally, what they do:

  1. they use the opportunity of the Surfing World Championship stage stopping in Martinique island for the first time in April 2015 to talk about it, « surfing » on the positive words spread out around this event.
  2. they built a rental offer associated with a discount.
  3. they wrote a story on their blog with links to the events. But to make it known, they use the power of the social media tools to broadcast their news throughout the network expecting to catch new clients

For the two next elements, it is up to their operational organization to set the contract id and track the performance.

This action is simple, requires limited ressources and is cheap. The return on investment may be small on the short term. But, on the long run, cumulating these actions generate good feedback. In addition, they generate a positive feeling among potential clients on the island but also from abroad. And, last but not least, in term of yield, it helps the franchisee to build its own makerting, taking it back from the brokers. It is a long way but it worth it in term of contribution.