Web Watch has been talking with a number number of people who have been traveling all over the country recently, and has heard about what HERTZ has been doing as a trial out at Denver International Airport (DEN) this summer.
As cars are returned to the Hertz Car Return lot by people anxious to get their paperwork taken care of so they can hop onto the shuttle bus to take them to the airport terminal — random Hertz customers are selected to be given “white glove” service: after being checked in by the helpful Hertz employee, an Aramark contractor then hops into the driver’s seat and drives you and your luggage directly to the terminal.
No need to schlep your baggage from the car return area onto the shuttle bus.
No need to wait for enough people to hop onto the shuttle to make it worthwhile to make that trip.
Depending on the time of day, this service – if rolled out into wide use in Denver or other airports – could save the average traveler 15-30 minutes.
This is a trial now, but all of this got Web Watch to thinking about the best way to roll this type of service out to potential customers. Hertz would not benefit by having this as part of their standard return package — too many employees would be needed to drive cars from the lot as they were checked in.
And it wouldn’t benefit Hertz to make this service available to every renter that came along. Perhaps it should be restricted to just Hertz #1 Club G0ld customers, or those who rent the Prestige line of cars.
And if it’s a busy return day, you may be stuck back in the return line with no way to get driven out even if you did qualify to receive a return drive back to the terminal. Web Watch doesn’t see Hertz adding a special privileged return line for just this – most locations don’t have the space, let alone other intangibles such a labelled line would bring.
No, that still seems like there could be too many issues with trying to have it available to too many people, especially if there was no good way to plan for when customers were returning their cars. Promising this service to their most loyal customers, and then making those same customers wait while a driver has to make a circuit to come back to the lot is not the best use of anyone’s time.
No, Web Watch knows exactly how this should play out:
Hertz should staff a car return booth at the ARRIVALS lane at the terminal.
The customer would drive up to the terminal, get their paperwork from the Hertz employee stationed there while they unload the car at the Arrivals line – and then the car gets driven directly back to the lot by that employee.
“Ah,” we hear you cry. “Wouldn’t that still run into the same staffing issue you mentioned earlier?”
Yes, it would. So here’s how Web Watch works it out into a two-step process:
- the service is only for those customers who call ahead at least 30 minutes before arriving at the airport. This will allow Hertz the ability to pop a staffer onto the shuttle bus to get to the Arrivals terminal in advance of the customer driving up.
- the service will incur a significant surcharge on the bill. Dropping the car off directly at the terminal would not be a free service, but it needs to be priced high enough to encourage the majority of Hertz customers to go directly to the Car Return line like they’re supposed to. Something in the $25-$50 range could work, although some friends of Web Watch have suggested $75-$100 is more practical. And if the renter doesn’t call ahead and surprises Hertz by making a terminal-based return, then the fee is doubled…. or tripled.
Casual travelers and families would be unlikely to take advantage of this service. On the other hand, business people are used to paying some surcharges while traveling for work — for example, they don’t often bother to fill the gas tank up before they return the car to the rental lot, incurring refueling surcharges.
But for those running on tight schedules where the cost of missing a flight and changing a ticket could run into the hundreds of dollars, paying $25, $50, or even $100 for the ability to drop the car off directly at the terminal in order to gain an extra 20 minutes to catch a flight could be a worthwhile investment on their part compared to ticket change fees and other charges.
So Web Watch is looking forward to seeing how Hertz’s experiment pans out. Do they go with this as an official offering for everyone, a randomly selected few, or just for those willing to pay for the service?
Our bet is on the latter. It seems to be the one that makes the most sense for everyone involved. Your thoughts?