TDS16: Long-term investment in brand is already having an impact, says Rentalcars

TDS16: Long-term investment in brand is already having an impact, says Rentalcars

Priceline-owned Rentalcars says its encouraged by early evidence that it’s new brand advertising is cutting through with consumers.

The car rental giant’s first head of brand Nigel Wolstenholme, who joined the company in March last year, told delegates at the Travel Distribution Summit Europe in London that instigating an omni-channel brand approach was a significant departure for the firm.

“We are brilliant at direct response and we can measure it but you have to throw that out of the window a little bit when you do something like this. How do we ever know if it works?” he said.

Rentalcars started testing its new brand advertising in New Zealand and Australia in the fourth quarter of 2016 featuring Glen the Guru and who helps customers with their ‘rental karma’.

Wolstenholme said the campaign was devised to combat a perception among consumers that picking up a rental car involves a lot of hassle and is generally a negative experience.

“You need to broaden the funnel, creating brand relevance, so consumers get you before you get to them,” he said. “We can help provide consumers confidence.”

Wolstenholme said to do this Rentalcars had to move out of the performance based channels it was comfortable in and work with outside agencies for the first time in its history.

He said embarking on a long-term brand building exercise it was a “leap of faith” but something that Rentalcars had to do, and there were already signs it was working.

Results in New Zealand and Australia are encouraging – the Rentalcars advert has been viewed 3.4 million times on YouTube in New Zealand alone – a country with a population of just four million.

“The really interesting results come from survey-type data,” said Wolstenholme. “We saw massive change in terms of customer perception. You start to see differences in the way consumers who have not used you perceive you and your service and reliability and metrics on that start to improve. The other thing we are starting to see is a long term impact on traffic volumes in Australia and how that’s effecting PPC and direct search.

“This whole idea of setting out to make consumers more comfortable and familiar with the brand, we are starting to see that now. It’s really early days. You have to run this stuff for a few years before you get a really strong result. Brand investment is not a short-term opportunity but we are starting already to see that shift after only six months.”

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