Many clients heading to Europe want to tour their chosen destination or destinations at their own pace. Yes, many tour operators offer such diversity in their product offerings, including customized tours, that agents are sure to find something to suit their clients’ needs, but there are, as you know, those clients who insist on vacationing on their own. That said, many travelers are a bit wary of renting a car and heading into the unknown, but Jeff Coggin, assistant v.p. of travel agency sales, Enterprise Holdings Inc., has quite a few tips that are sure to, as he says, “remove customer barriers to renting internationally.”
How can travel agents convince clients to rent a car when traveling in Europe?
Coggin: Many scenarios make sense for customers traveling to Europe. For example, someone traveling through Bordeaux, France, who wants to visit the area’s various vineyards would not be tied to a specific schedule and would have the ability to go off the beaten path by car. Similarly, a golfer who wants to play the various golf courses of Scotland would also benefit from the flexibility of having a car.
How does Enterprise work with travel agents to educate them about renting cars for their clients in Europe?
Coggin: We’ve created a new resource for our travel agent partners, Driving Guides.
The guides are 1-page documents, each individually focused on a different country—U.K, Germany, France and Ireland—providing travelers with practical information for driving and navigating through a foreign country. These include background on road signs, local laws, protocols and more. Our goal is to give travel agents the information they need to remove customer barriers to renting internationally. With their questions anticipated, customers might have less anxiety and frustration and a better service experience. The Driving Guides are available for download at enterprise.com/drivingguide. Additional guides are in the process of being produced for Spain, Mexico and Italy.
What are the challenges Enterprise is coming up against when the subject of renting a car in Europe comes up?
Coggin: The Driving Guides can help remove some of the challenges that agents encounter with customers concerned about renting a car because they address many common misperceptions about driving in a particular country. For example, many think left-sided driving is the norm throughout all of Europe, but it’s actually not. Educating travelers about unique driving circumstances eliminates the risk of false perceptions or unwarranted concerns. Additionally, our rental process includes a hands-on approach that ensures drivers are educated on how to operate the vehicle they are renting before they leave the lot. Our employees take the time to show our customers the various features of the car and answer questions about the vehicle or the local area if needed.
Should clients who are more comfortable driving an automatic request that before arriving at the rental car location (while in the U.S.), assuming that most of the cars will be manual transmissions or is there a balance of automatics and manual transmissions at most locales?
Coggin: Manual transmissions are standard in Europe. However, we do carry a large amount of automatic transmission vehicles in our fleet at our airport locations, and customers can go online and reserve an automatic if they prefer.
There’s a family of four flying into Barcelona. They’re driving from Barcelona to Madrid, stopping in Zaragoza; San Sebastian; Pamplona; and Bilbao; and while visiting Madrid, want to take day trips to Segovia and Toledo. Is the best option to rent a car in Barcelona if they plan to stay at each destination a couple of days, and if so, why?
Coggin: Yes, because of the flexibility renting a car provides. When in a car, travelers are on their own schedule, able to change their travel dates as needed, have control of their luggage and more. Additionally, for the trip described here, a car is likely the most practical way to visit multiple remote sites.
Is it cheaper to rent a car for the aforementioned trip (when it’s a family of four) vs. getting train tickets for all of
Coggin: Depending on your travel dates and the type of vehicle you would need for your trip, renting a car can be an affordable option for a multi-stop family road trip across Europe. When comparing transportation options, it’s important to keep in mind that if you’re planning to drop off a rental vehicle in a different city than where you initially picked it up, additional fees may apply. Taking the train and renting a car are not mutually exclusive either. Travelers can take advantage of the great European train system and still rent a car at the train station to get the best of both modes of transportation depending on their travel needs.
Why should travel agents work with Enterprise as opposed to other rental car companies?
Coggin: That’s easy. Our culture of customer service permeates our system on a global basis. In fact, we’ve recently introduced Enterprise’s proprietary customer satisfaction standard, known as the Service Quality Index (SQi), to all of our European franchise partners—allowing us to benchmark every branch in every country against a companywide, global standard for excellence. This singular focus on exceeding customer expectations is the hallmark of our brand and what separates us from the competition.