RULE #1 : CHOOSE THE RIGHT COMPETITORS NOT BASED ON KNOWLEDGE BUT ON YOUR OWN METRICS
Tracking a competitor is more than simply collecting the rates of all your competitors located on the same market. Over the past 10-year development of electronic distribution, intermediaries (ie Brokers) became important operators to be tracked and configured in the rate shop. Like in the hotel industry, it is essential to keep an eye on your rate parity through all the distribution channels.
In addition to intermediaries and premium car rental suppliers, do not forget local franchisees and independant brands as well!
For car rental operators, it is important to split premium brands (Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Sixt, etc), that can directly operate or franchise their short term rental activity around the world, with local and independant suppliers (ie Adobe in Costa Rica, EZi in New Zealand, Localiza in Brazil, see note 1). This distinction is important as it will impact the volume of shops and thus the cost of the rate survey. Indeed, data canvassing experts like Rate Gain or QL2 already provide a list of sites in which you can pick up the competitors to monitor. For non exisiting brands and sites, an ad-hoc configuration will be quoted and added on top to the total queries.
But how the rates displayed are built on all these sites? Some operators broadcast full inclusive prices (mileage, basic insurance) while some others show more complex products that seem to be cheaper. In practice, these prices are “naked” and all options have to be added. In Spain, some car rental suppliers are showing a 7-day rental at 20 or 10$ and recently, a 0€-weekly rate was proposed. For sure, absolutely no options were included and all supplements to be charged at the counter upon departure – see note 2. So the rateshopper has to collect and split all these elements correctly.
Last but not least, the pricing of your competitors may vary from the point of Sales. Even though the European Community warned the premium brands not to discrimate a client based on his European geographical origin, it is a matter of fact that most of international prices vary from the source of customer. So, from which source should the canvassing be configured from? Internal analysis of you client origins can be a great help. However, it is not always reliable enough as some brokers send the reservations from their base camp (UK, Ireland, Germany) while a customer has booked it from its home country (French .fr or German .de site). To fine tune the real origin of the drivers, it might be better to analyze the driving licence’s country extracted from your rental agreement database. To get a wider vision of not only your drivers but also your country visitor origins, you can use the analytical tool provided by Forwardkeys that compiles all airline GDS data to understand better the behaviour and the origin of the visitors in your country.
Note 1: there should not have any misunderstanding comparing a small player and an independant supplier. Localiza in Brazil is an independant brand operating more than 100 000 vehicles!