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Old Jun 8, 10, 8:18 am   #16
Company Representative - Autoslash
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
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Yes, this is definitely on our short list. We're working on getting the blog wrapped up right now, and this is likely next on the list.

There is a workaround for now though. Do the search using just airport codes. When you get to the next screen (where you see the grid), scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the All search options link at the bottom of the page. That will take you to a screen where you can enter in any international address.

Thanks for the feedback! Hope this helps.

Jonathan

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Originally Posted by Efrem View Post
I tried it for a one-way rental in France. It was quite happy to take airport codes, but unfortunately I'd like to pick up the car somewhere near central Paris and return it in Bayeux. (Hertz, at least, has offices in both places.) It won't let me enter a non-airport address outside the U.S. and Canada. Is an enhancement for this in the works?

(That said, I liked what I saw for the trial searches I did.)
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Old Jun 8, 10, 11:32 am   #17
Moderator: American AAdvantage and New York City
 
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First, thanks for setting this up, guys - very exciting!

Second, here's a datapoint for you to work on:

SFO
National
6/23/10 11:00p - 6/29/10 3:00p
Fullsize

1) Default search gives me $503.36, which is the no-code rack rate.
2) Adding National contract 3715444 (Car & Driver) and coupon NF2853JDU (Entertainement 5-day free day) gives me $397.83, which is the Car & Driver rate, but without the coupon applied.
3) Entering both directly into Nationalcar.com gives me $336.53


Also, it is possible to enter multiple contracts and coupons for one rental car company? If I try to add another option line on the search page with another National contract/coupon, I get: "Discounts cannot be applied to the same company more than once."
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Old Jun 8, 10, 1:57 pm   #18
Company Representative - Autoslash
 
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Thanks dstan. Stuff like this is super helpful since it gives us something specific to work with.

So first of all, let me state that based on the parameters of your rental, even with discount codes, National is still one of the most expensive companies. We tend to focus on the companies that are likely to yield the lowest rate.

Now I understand that many FT'ers are loyal to a specific company for one reason or another, so there may be a reason to choose a higher priced company over a lower priced one.

What we'll try to do here is that if you select a specific company from the company dropdown, we'll try to apply the best code we can find for that specific company. I think that should help.

Now on the price discrepancy issue, I unfortunately do not have a great answer there. We are sending our bookings through Sabre. The rates that are returned through Sabre match the rental companies directly better than 90% of the time, but there are definitely instances where there is a discrepancy (sometimes significant). This is one of those cases.

Now keep in mind that the issue cuts both ways. There are also many times where the rental company website is showing a higher price than Sabre or one of the other GDS's, so in those cases we come out ahead.

Welcome to the wacky world of rental car pricing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dstan View Post
First, thanks for setting this up, guys - very exciting!

Second, here's a datapoint for you to work on:

SFO
National
6/23/10 11:00p - 6/29/10 3:00p
Fullsize

1) Default search gives me $503.36, which is the no-code rack rate.
2) Adding National contract 3715444 (Car & Driver) and coupon NF2853JDU (Entertainement 5-day free day) gives me $397.83, which is the Car & Driver rate, but without the coupon applied.
3) Entering both directly into Nationalcar.com gives me $336.53


Also, it is possible to enter multiple contracts and coupons for one rental car company? If I try to add another option line on the search page with another National contract/coupon, I get: "Discounts cannot be applied to the same company more than once."
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Old Jun 8, 10, 4:57 pm   #19
 
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Old Jun 8, 10, 5:05 pm   #20
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I find the double listing of rental companies confusing -- apparently one is "discounted" and the other is not, but in my case (Lihue, Kauai, Dec 2 - 9) it managed to push Hertz off the front page. I think even if you're going to list companies in the order of price, each conpany should get one listing in rising price order followed by other higher priced listings from companies which already had a first listing.
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Old Jun 8, 10, 5:37 pm   #21
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We agree wholeheartedly with you about the double-columns issue. This is something we are definitely going to address in a future release. We need some back-end enhancements in order to address this issue.

Our graphic designer cringes every time she sees the booking UI. She's chomping at the bit to redesign the whole booking workflow, and we're all for letting her have at it.

Ideally we want to show the lowest price for each car class per company. If you see a compact car from Hertz for $40 and another listing for $60, there's not much point in showing the higher priced one since nobody will ever book that. It's just cluttering up the UI.

As soon as we can get the necessary plumbing in place we'll re-work the whole thing, and we'll have some more flexibility as well, but it's going to take some time.

As I mentioned previously, the blog is next because we have some great content we want to get online. We also have some cool tools coming. I'll give you a little teaser on our Rental Office Finder tool which is in the works. You can check out a mock-up here.



Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
I find the double listing of rental companies confusing -- apparently one is "discounted" and the other is not, but in my case (Lihue, Kauai, Dec 2 - 9) it managed to push Hertz off the front page. I think even if you're going to list companies in the order of price, each conpany should get one listing in rising price order followed by other higher priced listings from companies which already had a first listing.
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Old Jun 8, 10, 10:29 pm   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baseline View Post
Thanks dstan. Stuff like this is super helpful since it gives us something specific to work with.
Thanks, baseline. What about being able to enter multiple codes and coupons? Ultimately, when you get the tracking feature activated, that'll be most useful for me.

OTOH, Mrs. dstan, Sr. has already taken advantage of the much lower $181 rate at Thrifty that Autoslash returned.
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Old Jun 9, 10, 12:46 am   #23
 
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Nice start. Just did a few searches and things look good. Both of you are already aware of the double column issue. It'll be nice to get a single screen view. I would like to see a half hour option rather than just the full hour.

It will also be nice to add the ability to show deals that may be near an airport. Perhaps add a "nearby locations" suggestion. Many people often remark how much price can vary just off an airport.

Last edited by WChou; Jun 9, 10 at 12:54 am.
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Old Jun 9, 10, 1:50 am   #24
 
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Nice work - very quick and the presentation is very clear.

I think though it's more useful to USA based people where the insurance situation is different. Here in the UK comparison sites that quote prices including all applicable taxes, fees and insurance (LDW, SLI & UIMP) are more usual and more useful to us. Have a look at one of the sites that uses the CarTrawler software like Argus. I know CarTrawler doesn't apply coupon like yours and that's a big plus for you but it does illustrate the insurance thing I mean.
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Old Jun 9, 10, 5:12 am   #25
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Right now, you have the ability to enter in one discount code (CDP, AWD, BCD, etc.) and one coupon per company, up to a max of 5 per query. This is a limitation of the Sabre back-end we are currently using. It could change down the road.

So basically for a given search, we need to figure out which 5 to apply to hopefully show the best results. We're constantly optimizing the software to try to "guess" better on which combination of codes will give the lowest rates.

There are many nuances and challenges with this. Some examples are:

- When you apply an Alamo coupon, the discount gets taken right off the total, and the discounted rate is what you will actually pay. This is different than Avis where the coupon gets applied, but the actual discount is not reflected in your total, but rather gets taken off at the counter. This can make Avis seem more expensive than Alamo for a given reservation even though the Avis reservation may be discounted further. Trust me when I say that this favors Alamo, and we see a difference in our booking breakdown.

- Some vendors are not in some locations, so we need to optimize our software to take this into account. An example that comes to mind is the NYC area airports. Alamo is not present at JFK, LGA, EWR. Right now, our software still tries to apply an Alamo coupon, thus using up one of those 5 valuable slots I mentioned earlier. This results in getting back less than 5 "Discounted" columns. Obviously we'd want to substitute Alamo for National or some other vendor and maximize the chance that we'd show a low rate for an alternate company. We actually have the mapping done for which companies are present each airport, but we just haven't gotten around to making the code change yet to take it into account. Soon we will do this though, and it will be that much more useful.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of what goes on behind the scenes. There really isn't any "secret sauce" per se. It's basically taking the concepts that savvy people around here have used for quite a while (manually), and putting some automated rules around it and executing it well. This way, you guys don't have to waste your time endlessly searching for discount codes and applying them via trial and error to get a better rate, as well as to help others who may be less savvy at playing "car rental discount roulette".

Any further questions, just ask!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dstan View Post
Thanks, baseline. What about being able to enter multiple codes and coupons? Ultimately, when you get the tracking feature activated, that'll be most useful for me.

OTOH, Mrs. dstan, Sr. has already taken advantage of the much lower $181 rate at Thrifty that Autoslash returned.
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Last edited by AutoSlash; Jun 9, 10 at 6:08 am.
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Old Jun 9, 10, 5:21 am   #26
Company Representative - Autoslash
 
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We have plans for a tool that will help to address just this sort of scenario. It's funny that you mention this because someone who works with me just emailed me last night with the following:

"when you have a moment... that LA trip changed.

big challenge: pick up BUR Aug 3 around noon. Drop off LAX Aug 10 around 10 / 11pm.

i say it can't be done for under $600. i bet you say otherwise. i need intermediate at least, unfortunately. help!

cancelled that other (awesome) 2 weeker we found in downtown LA, just won't work now."

My response was as follows:

"Of course it can be done ye of little faith! OK, here's the plan...

Take a cab from Burbank airport to the Avis location at 2509 West Olive Ave in Burbank. It's 5 mi and should be about a $15 cab fare. You'll pick up an intermediate car there for $181 total not including a $25 coupon.

So total price with cab fare, rental, minus coupon should be about $170.

By my calculations, I just saved you $430."

This is clearly an example of where by getting a little creative, you can save some massive coin. My friend is far from a newbie at the travel game (he's actually the travel editor at a newspaper), but even he finds it difficult to sort through all the possible options.

It presents an obviously opportunity, and it's definitely on our list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WChou View Post
It will also be nice to add the ability to show deals that may be near an airport. Perhaps add a "nearby locations" suggestion. Many people often remark how much price can vary just off an airport.
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Last edited by AutoSlash; Jun 9, 10 at 7:01 am.
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Old Jun 9, 10, 5:28 am   #27
Company Representative - Autoslash
 
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Thanks Capricorn. We recognize that the needs outside the US can be somewhat different. We actually looked at CarTrawlers' software at one point, but for various reasons it didn't meet our requirements at the time. That said, our existing system is not ideally suited to rentals in the UK either.

Our primary focus is on the US right now, but certainly we'd like to optimize the experience for rentals outside the US at some point as well. Yet another thing on the list.

Appreciate the feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capricorn View Post
Nice work - very quick and the presentation is very clear.

I think though it's more useful to USA based people where the insurance situation is different. Here in the UK comparison sites that quote prices including all applicable taxes, fees and insurance (LDW, SLI & UIMP) are more usual and more useful to us. Have a look at one of the sites that uses the CarTrawler software like Argus. I know CarTrawler doesn't apply coupon like yours and that's a big plus for you but it does illustrate the insurance thing I mean.
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Old Jun 9, 10, 3:56 pm   #28
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I just booked a car through autoslash so will be eager to see if I get any price change messages. I used my Chairman's Club number and wasn't sure if it automatically put in my AWD or not, but, with one of the coupon codes on site, was able to eventually get the same deal as I could get through avis' site.

What was odd though is that on Avis' site I got the rate simply with my AWD. With autoslash I got the rate with the coupon. When I put the coupon into Avis' site it told me it was blacked out for summer (it's an ANC rental). Will the coupon that gave me a reduced rate on autoslash not be honored at the station?
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Old Jun 9, 10, 5:14 pm   #29
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Blackout dates do apply to certain coupons at certain locations. We denote these on our site wherever possible. We are running manual checks right now to ensure that if a coupon is applied but actually blacked out during the rental period, that the customer will notified. We will search for an alternate coupon that is valid to the best of our ability. We expect to automate this process eventually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by l'etoile View Post
I just booked a car through autoslash so will be eager to see if I get any price change messages. I used my Chairman's Club number and wasn't sure if it automatically put in my AWD or not, but, with one of the coupon codes on site, was able to eventually get the same deal as I could get through avis' site.

What was odd though is that on Avis' site I got the rate simply with my AWD. With autoslash I got the rate with the coupon. When I put the coupon into Avis' site it told me it was blacked out for summer (it's an ANC rental). Will the coupon that gave me a reduced rate on autoslash not be honored at the station?
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Old Jun 9, 10, 8:57 pm   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by l'etoile View Post
I just booked a car through autoslash so will be eager to see if I get any price change messages.
Oh, is that how the tracking works??? I though it wasn't rolled out yet, envisioning it to be like Yapta, where you can track speculative trips. I suppose it makes sense though, as there are usually no cancellation fees for rental cars.
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