It seems as if all car rental companies have their own smartphone app nowadays. Thus, the news that National Car Rental is launching its own smartphone app should not come as a shock to anyone. However, National Car Rentals is taking a different approach to its app than other companies by adding more functions.
Most reviews on smartphone apps from car rental consumers all read the same. People like them, but they are less than impressed by these apps that offer very limited function. National Car Rental, when revealing this new app at the Global Business Travel Association Convention in Sand Diego on Monday, said that it hopes to avoid that same end.
National Car Rental said that this app, which is currently available in both the Google Play and iTunes stores, has learned from the mistakes of apps released by other car rental companies like Hertz. The company said that Hertz’s app has only a two-star review out of five stars on iTunes. National Car Rental wanted to learn why this app received such bad reviews and avoid making those mistakes with its own app. The main thing that National Car Rental noticed was the struggle that the car hire industry is going through to make customers’ lives easier, which is the whole point of mobile apps.
The assistant vice president of marketing for National Car Rental, Rob Connors, said that other companies missed a huge opportunity by making their apps offer only reservation functionality. National Car Rental has talked to customers and watched what other companies have done. Now, the company has released an app that benefits from this.
National Car Rental worked with a group of people that it calls the Emerald Exchange. This is a group of 300 consumers who are repeat car renters from National Car Rental. It meets with these people a couple times a year to find out about their major concerns and priorities. It used this same group of people to view its app and get feedback on it before releasing it to the public.
What National Car Rental came up with was to avoid calling its smartphone app a reservation app and to call it a “rental tracker.” This app helps consumers follow the life of their current rental. The app helps people not only make a reservation and check in but also get directions to the rental lot to pick up their car. Emerald Club users will even have a virtual aisle option to help them pick out their cars from a real-time inventory list.
The app’s usefulness does not end there. Once a consumer has picked up their car, the app offers an easy way for him to extend the length of his rental if needed. He can also search for available discounts, get payment information and view his rewards balance. The app even provides reminders and directions on how to get back to the airport the day before the car is set to be returned. It includes more common features such roadside assistance, among other things, as well.