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FT needs a General car rental subforum

FT needs a General car rental subforum

 
Old Jan 4, 15, 12:22 pm
  #1  
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FT needs a General car rental subforum

Flyertalk needs a general Car Rental forum, that is non-specific to any one particular rental car agency. Currently, there are eight (8) car rental sub forums, none of which are general, and all of which are only on topic when discussing the specific rental agencies listed in their titles. As such, any general car rental strategy question that would apply to any or all of the agencies, would effectively have to be reposted under all eight of the forums individually.

This makes even less sense in 2015, because of the rental car company consolidation that has created an oligopoly that has significantly changed the industry over the last two years, namely, as evidenced by the dramatic increase of rental car prices, due to decreased competition and price collusion between brands underneath one umbrella.

Therefore, despite there being 8 sub forums for 8 separate car agencies (the last one naming two agencies as examples, but is intended to be a catchall for others) there are really only 3 major rental car companies operating the 9 well known car rental brands. One WSJ article compared this consolidation to the railroad industry... once all the railroad companies became consolidated under one or two brands, like Burlington Northern... the prices of rail freight rose, and there was no competition.

People who fly generally need ground transportation at their destination, and rental cars are a huge factor in the travel costs. Now they are even bigger, and we need a forum to help us discuss how to mitigate against this development, and ferret out the increasingly more difficult to find deals across all of the "shell" brands operating as "separate" business units in name, but not genuinely competing.

For the last five flights I've booked for domestic travel in the US, with all trips being 4 days or less, the rental car costs exceeded the air fare. And these are all WEEKEND rental rates.

What is even stranger, is that in every case, the redeemable miles earned from the rental cars were greater than the redeemable miles earned from the flights to get there and back. And some of the flights were transcontinental coast to coast. Since the value of RDMS can enter into the strategy of total dollar cost value of the rental car, the selection of one rental car co branded mileage "bonus" over another can materially factor into which car to rent, beyond the contract price alone.

I had several questions to put to more experienced travelers to solicit help in sorting through the choices this paradigm shift in car rental companies and costs presents, but alas, there is no forum under which I can appropriately ask any question pertaining to car rentals that would apply to any and all car rental companies.

Since car rental costs now exceed flight costs, I need to pay more attention to strategizing on the best way to rent cars. If there is another forum like "RentalCarTalk" that exists somewhere on the net, kindly point me to it. Otherwise, please consider adding a General Car rental forum that clearly applies to ALL car rental brands, both major and minor, so that we can discuss the best strategies for maximizing value out of rental cars, regardless of brand.

Here is the consolidation that took place:

Hertz owns Dollar and Thrifty. It also owned Advantage, but sold it and then Advantage immediately went bankrupt.

Avis owns Budget and Payless and ZipCar.

Enterprise owns National and Alamo.

As you can see, there are only 3 major players calling the shots in the car rental industry nowadays, and rental car prices are skyrocketing.

I propose a parent or general car rental forum, nonspecific to a brand, where car rental strategies, awards, miles, points, discounts, etc can be shared and expounded upon without reasking the same question in each of the individually branded forums.

Below is the Flyertalk Car Rental subforum list as currently devised:


Avis | Preferred
http://www.avis.com

Budget | Fastbreak
http://www.budget.com

Dollar | Express Renter Rewards
http://www.dollar.com

Hertz | Gold Plus Rewards

National | Emerald Club
http://www.nationalcar.com


Sixt |


Thrifty | Blue Chip Rewards
http://www.thrifty.com


Other Car Rental Programs (ie. Alamo, Enterprise)


This last forum, called "Other Car Rental Programs (ie Alamo, Enterprise) implies that it does NOT apply to any discussions related to Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Budget, National, or Sixt. Therefore, it is not a general car rental sub forum that would apply to any or all car rental agencies.

That is the sum of the problem I found. Hope you consider a remedy.
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Old Jan 4, 15, 12:53 pm
  #2  
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There is some value to what you propose since general non-program specific car rental topics can get lost in the current forum hierarchy. The current forum structure is more a function of the relative value of the frequent renter programs. I believe that the reason Enterprise and Alamo are lumped into other despite the fact that Enterprise is a huge company, is that their rewards program is really crappy, especially as compared to their sister company National.

In terms of companies, it is true that after Hertz sold Advantage they declared bankruptcy, but they were subsequently purchase by Catalyst Capital Group, a Canadian private equity firm and are now stable from a financial perspective.

Subsequent to the Advantage sale, Hertz almost immediately started up a brand called Firefly which essentially replaces Advantage as their deep discount brand, effectively mirroring the current Avis structure of premium brand (Avis), discount brand (Budget), deep discount brands (Payless/ACE). Dollar/Thrifty fit into the discount brand category for Hertz, but truth be told, Budget tends to have a higher quality product than either brand for a variety of reasons.
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Old Jan 4, 15, 3:00 pm
  #3  
 
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TL;DR
Originally Posted by Flyertall View Post
I propose a parent or general car rental forum, nonspecific to a brand, where car rental strategies, awards, miles, points, discounts, etc can be shared and expounded upon without reasking the same question in each of the individually branded forums.
Sounds like it would just turn into a forum like this: "I am travelling to <blah> and need a discounted rental...spoon feed me!". We already have that with airfares & hotels in multiple forums. Don't think we should do more to enable that for cars.
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Old Jan 4, 15, 5:20 pm
  #4  
mia
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Originally Posted by Flyertall View Post
This last forum, called "Other Car Rental Programs (ie Alamo, Enterprise) implies that it does NOT apply to any discussions related to Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Budget, National, or Sixt. Therefore, it is not a general car rental sub forum that would apply to any or all car rental agencies.
FlyerTalk converted Other Credit Cards into Credit Card Programs, and moved it to the top of the section. Today, Credit Card Programs hosts a robust mixture of general card discussion plus threads about specific cards issued by companies which do not have their own forums.

Cars are not cards, and what has worked in one topic may not be appropriate for another, but I think the approach could be adapted because there are a number of issues which are common to all car rental decisions.

Last edited by mia; Jan 4, 15 at 5:29 pm
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Old Jan 4, 15, 6:06 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by OverThereTooMuch View Post
Sounds like it would just turn into a forum like this: "I am travelling to <blah> and need a discounted rental...spoon feed me!". We already have that with airfares & hotels in multiple forums. Don't think we should do more to enable that for cars.

No where in my original post did I say that a forum is needed for "I am traveling to blah, and need a discounted rental."

I'm not asking for a fish. I'm seeking a place to learn HOW to fish in these new troubled waters.

With or without you, or FT, I WILL learn how to fish better in this storm of skyrocketing rental rates. My job and livelihood depend on it. It would be nice to have a common place to both share and glean that knowledge which would apply to all car rental brands.

I booked six trips with cars yesterday, up to 60 days out. Half those trips I double booked cars with two different companies, and I'm not satisfied with the price, discount, or the incentives of either. It is hard to tell what is going on, but prices are shockingly higher.

In years past, it was a rather simple matter of going to carrentals.com and getting a helicopter survey of price ranges across companies. Then I would go to the car rental companies website directly, and using my membership number and various discount codes found with an independent search, chip away at it. Average rentals were about $150 for 4 weekend days, Thu-Mon.

Now, just a year or two later, I find that carrentals.com is owned by expedia or tripadvisor, forgot which. Prices posted are higher though. Now, all the discount code websites are trojan filled malware bombs one dare not click on. And now, my average rentals are about $300 for 4 weekend days, and this is for economy. The game has changed, and I want to learn how to adapt.

I'm looking for a forum where strategy learning is possible, and where people genuinely LIKE to be helpful. You can keep your spoon in your drawer. Don't assume it is what people are looking for.
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Old Jan 5, 15, 9:37 am
  #6  
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Hmm, I could see some benefit to such a program. However, I also notice that outside Hertz and Avis there's very little activity in the rental car threads. Dollar can go weeks without a post and even Other Rental Car Programs is pretty quiet. I'm not sure there really is demand for this forum, but I'll keep an open mind.

I'm also going to send this thread to some of the big rental car experts on FT>
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Old Jan 5, 15, 9:44 am
  #7  
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
Hmm, I could see some benefit to such a program. However, I also notice that outside Hertz and Avis there's very little activity in the rental car threads. Dollar can go weeks without a post and even Other Rental Car Programs is pretty quiet. I'm not sure there really is demand for this forum, but I'll keep an open mind.

I'm also going to send this thread to some of the big rental car experts on FT>
Given that's the case, it actually may pay to just have separate forums for the majors (Hertz, Avis, National) and put everyone else into General/Other. Often the questions for the others revolve less around the rewards program and more about general questions anyway.
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Old Jan 5, 15, 10:06 am
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Originally Posted by AutoSlash View Post
Given that's the case, it actually may pay to just have separate forums for the majors (Hertz, Avis, National) and put everyone else into General/Other. Often the questions for the others revolve less around the rewards program and more about general questions anyway.
I wouldn't be opposed to that. Looking at Dollar right now, there's a thread from April, 2014 on the first page of the forum, Budget is September, 2014 and Thrifty July.
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Old Jan 5, 15, 10:21 am
  #9  
mia
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
...even Other Rental Car Programs is pretty quiet.
In part this is because the threads which would be easy to find in a general car rental forum are now swallowed up in Travel Buzz. Search there, titles only, with the keyword: "car".
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Old Jan 5, 15, 1:02 pm
  #10  
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I was tempted to ask some of my general rental car questions on the Hertz forum, even though they didn't relate directly or exclusively to Hertz in particular, for two reasons:

1. The Hertz forum has the most posts, the most reads, and is the most active.

2. The popularity of the Hertz forum is not driven by anything related to Hertz itself, but instead appears to be the very generally oriented "Challenge" thread, where program discounts of other brands, including brands like Avis, which has it's own forum and is not even under the Hertz umbrella, are revealed and recommended by Autoslash, who stands out as the most constructive contributor to the rental car forums.

It therefore appears to me that the Hertz forum by default, but not by name, has evolved into a general rental car forum. But to me, it just seems inappropriate to cultivate general rental car topics on a brand and program specific subforum.

For example, I have questions about AARP discounts, booking through Costco membership, becoming a member of a travel club for discounts, the value of earning airline miles versus lower prices for rentals... general strategy questions that apply to any and all rental car programs, and none in particular.

Where do I appropriately ask those types of questions, or share that type of knowledge when I stumble across it?

As a native English speaking newby to FT, it would never in a million years have occurred to me to look in "Travel Buzz." I scanned the master forum list, found the big bold master forum title that said Car Rental, and looked there for car rental topics.

As for searching, sometimes I don't even know what I'm searching for, because how can I know what I don't know. Using the search term "flight" is likely to get an unmanageably large return of unsorted hits on flyertalk. I imagine that the search term "car" would yield similarly unmanageable results.

It's a small thing, but it would be nice to follow the title to the master forum of Car Rentals, and find an appropriate sub forum where general best practices on finding, selecting, booking, and insuring rental cars in general are cultivated as topics of interest that apply irrespective of the car rental brand.
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Old Jan 5, 15, 2:08 pm
  #11  
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I absolutely disagree with your statements on the Hertz forum. There's a lot of activity in there in a variety of threads. Everything from Manager Specials to ride reports and upgrades. Hertz still has a large following among FTers, many of whom hold status with them. To say its popularity derives not from Hertz itself is flat out wrong.
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Old Jan 7, 15, 12:54 pm
  #12  
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I am open to the idea of a sub forum for general car rentals.
Originally Posted by mia View Post
In part this is because the threads which would be easy to find in a general car rental forum are now swallowed up in Travel Buzz. Search there, titles only, with the keyword: "car".
That is something which a simple note to the moderators of the TravelBuzz forum could potentially fix...
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Old Jan 7, 15, 1:15 pm
  #13  
mia
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Originally Posted by Canarsie View Post
... a simple note to the moderators of the TravelBuzz forum could potentially fix...
If there were a refocused Rental Car Programs forum it would certainly make sense to move threads from TravelBuzz, MilesBuzz, anywhere else they might be lurking. Not sure it makes sense to move them into the existing (unmoderated) Other Rental Car Programs forum.
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Old Jan 7, 15, 1:49 pm
  #14  
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
If there were a refocused Rental Car Programs forum it would certainly make sense to move threads from TravelBuzz, MilesBuzz, anywhere else they might be lurking. Not sure it makes sense to move them into the existing (unmoderated) Other Rental Car Programs forum.
So maybe Rental Car Programs and then subforums of Hertz, Avis and National? I like that idea.
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Old Jan 7, 15, 2:22 pm
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
So maybe Rental Car Programs and then subforums of Hertz, Avis and National? I like that idea.
Sounds good to me.
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