The boss of one the world’s leading car rental firms has played down the potential impact of the sharing economy on the sector, saying the concept is a “play of words”.
Speaking in a panel session for suppliers at last week’s Expedia Global Partners Conference, Greg Stubblefield, Enterprise executive vice-president said:
“You hear a lot today about the sharing economy and how that’s going to disrupt traditional companies like ourselves.
“Sharing, as we look at it, involves something that does not involve a financial transaction. What sharing companies are doing is creating on-demand business that’s frictionless.
“We have been in the sharing business for 58 years, the different is in that we are a for-profit business, not a sharing, non-profit business. It’s just a play on words as we see it.”
In the car rental sector taxi app Uber is seen as the greatest threat to traditional providers of transportation as its technology introduces peer-to-peer principles.
But Stubblefield said the reality is that the transportation systems in major cities are evolving and different customer needs are emerging.
However he said Uber was not going to disrupt the car rental business. “We have just had our best year ever and Uber had a wonderful year.
“It’s just part of the overall transportation system – people have different need states.”
Stubblefield said Enterprise itself was a disruptor in car rental when during the 1980s 1990s is decided to focus on off-airport rentals.
He said this strategy to grow the footprint of its home city drop-off and collection points brought it to within five minutes of 95% of the US population.
The firm also put customer satisfaction at the top of its priority list with employees that achieved certain target scores only being considered for promotion.
Enterprise entered the airport rental sector towards the end of the 1990s with the acquisitions of Alamo Rent a Car and National Car Rental and today it represents a third of its overall business.
In 2007 it launched WeCar, a car sharing venture, on the Washington University campus in St Louis. It is now called Enterprise Carshare.
Today, the service is available for more than 130 university campuses, 40 dedicated government programmes, and 500 business accounts in 35 US states, Canada and the UK.