Some industries are ripe for disruption and innovation. Often they are overlooked for long periods of time because they are boring or appear to have very small margins or very little room for newcomers to make an impact. Commercial real estate was certainly one of them before WeWork came storming onto the scene. Taxis were another before Uber changed everything.
I can tell you right now that the rental car business needs help. I base this completely on my most recent experience and have no knowledge of the actual profitability of these businesses.
Thank You Budget
I was traveling down to Florida this past weekend and needed a car for one day. I booked it through Budget in advance and paid in full. A family emergency came up at the last second, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it to Florida. So I cancelled the car and Budget charged me a $10 dollar cancellation fee. Fine. Whatever.
Turns out that I was able to travel after all. Here’s where it gets bad for them.
Jumping Through Hoops
When we landed, I checked the Budget site online but couldn’t un-cancel my reservation. I checked prices and saw that I could get a car for the same price as my reservation, so I figured I’d go to Budget and see if they could refund my $10 fee and get me a new car.
Not possible I was told my the manager. Fine. Whatever.
I tell the woman at the front desk I need to book a car. Again, not possible. The woman at the desk tells me that they don’t have any cars available, but I could rent an 8 person mini van. This is where I start to get annoyed.
I explain that I looked online and that there were cars available. The woman explains to me that she can’t get me the same rates or vehicles as I can online, so I have to book that way.
Totally ridiculous in this day and age. All a big scam to try to squeeze out some extra dollars from people who don’t have the internet or didn’t think to check that option. Stupid Budget.
Sadly, It’s Not Just Rental Car Agencies
Plenty of companies make their users jump through hoops. Have you ever tried to read an article online and get bombarded by a paywall or totally intrusive ad banner? Hoops. Have you ever tried to access something but they made you share something on social media first? Hoops. So many companies. So many hoops.
For the entrepreneur, hoops mean opportunity. When someone figures out how to monetize these media sites without banner ads and paywalls, they will own the world. Perhaps a company will bring innovation to the rental car industry. Perhaps something will just replace the need for rental cars altogether. Regardless, avoid hoops at all costs.