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Why don't rental car companies use kiosks/mobile apps as much as airlines do?

Why don't rental car companies use kiosks/mobile apps as much as airlines do?

Old Jun 17, 18, 8:06 pm
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Why don't rental car companies use kiosks/mobile apps as much as airlines do?

Why don't rental car companies have everything automated and available using kiosks as much as airlines do?

With an airline (or even Amtrak), everything needed to get on a plane or train, except handing your luggage to a human, can be done with a kiosk or mobile app.

With a rental car company, it still generally seems necessary to go to a human, have tons of typing done, paper printed, and then you get your car. Some rental car companies have kiosks, but I don't see them used much.

I use (and like) National Car Rental; it has a mobile app that doesn't really do anything, from what I can tell. At larger locations you just stop at an exit and have a human quickly scan your car, and that's great, but at smaller locations, you still wait in a line, for a human.

Why?
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Old Jun 17, 18, 8:18 pm
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The cynic in me says it's because a kiosk won't try to upsell you as intently as a human can/will...
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Old Jun 17, 18, 8:31 pm
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Originally Posted by NYCommuter View Post
Why don't rental car companies have everything automated and available using kiosks as much as airlines do?

With a rental car company, it still generally seems necessary to go to a human, have tons of typing done, paper printed, and then you get your car. Some rental car companies have kiosks, but I don't see them used much.

I use (and like) National Car Rental; it has a mobile app that doesn't really do anything, from what I can tell. At larger locations you just stop at an exit and have a human quickly scan your car, and that's great, but at smaller locations, you still wait in a line, for a human.
It all comes down to the driver's license check - they have to have a human do it so they can compare the ID with the person carrying it. At larger locations they sometimes have kiosks for people who aren't members of the agencies various frequent renter programs, but they're not all that useful because frequent renters generally figure out quickly that if they join the frequent renter program they can get off the bus and just walk to to a car and get their ID checked at the gate. At small locations, like the city centers or whatever, they don't have as much control over access and can't leave keys in the car, and it's not cost effective to have a full time person in a booth at the exit. So you have to go to the desk and they check your ID, print your stuff and hand you keys.
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Old Jun 18, 18, 2:31 am
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The first version of the Alamo kiosks had a manual-entry alternative for the driver's license info (though it required a good bit of typing). They had to eliminate that and set it up so your license either scans or you get sent to the counter.

I rented my first car in 1988 and it's amazing how the process has stayed really byzantine and change-resistant the whole time. Dot-matrix printers are largely replaced with lasers and SOME companies have decent counter-bypass alternatives for frequent renters, but you can really get stuck in ridiculous lines outside that. LAS is really bad because of all the inexperienced pax (some foreign) who get flummoxed by the upsells.
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Old Jun 18, 18, 3:14 am
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There are kiosks/apps that can have a user submit their ID for an automated or remote manual check of the ID prior to the company allowing a customer proceed with completing a transaction of sorts. The same could go for car rental companies wanting to see the DLs, credit cards and possibly even passports. All that is required is a kiosk/app that ask for a photo of certain docs/cards to be submitted at the time of transaction.

I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until car rental companies at airports go this way too. Even as airlines’ service is one where a fraudulent incident with a customer doesn’t mean as much of a potential hit to capital/equipment as a fraudulent incident involving a rental car customer.
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Old Jun 18, 18, 10:32 am
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I've used kiosks at Alamo twice. It was fantastic. I could tick 'no' to all the things they tried to upsell me and was reasonably confident that they didn't sneak their way onto my rental agreement. I remember typing in my (then UK) licence number into the kiosk. No human check required.

But yes, I'm all for automated rental car pickup to expand further.
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Old Jun 25, 18, 9:23 am
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Once you know the various agencies and how each airport handles it, you can mostly avoid interacting with humans except for that one piece that can't currently be avoided - showing someone a valid driver's license.

National's process is probably my favorite: arrive, select car, go straight to the exit to show ID.
Hertz's process was probably the first that was pretty good even in the 90s - look at board, go to car, show ID at exit.
Alamo kiosks have been around forever and aren't bad when they're working.
Most Budget locations still make you go to the Fastbreak desk and talk to a human.
Avis is probably pretty hassle-free, although I don't rent from them except at the off-airport location near my house, which is entirely old-school where they print a ream of paper for each rental. Fortunately there's never a queue there.

The off-brands like Advantage, Payless, Sixt, etc. all want to do the hard-sell. I avoid those unless there's an absolutely crazy price that is going to justify 30-45 minutes of my time.

Fortunately, Uber/Lyft have killed about 80% of my annual car rental demand. At my peak I was renting 40-50 times a year between biz and personal trips. Now it's zero for business and maybe 5-8 per year for personal trips.
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Old Jun 25, 18, 9:31 am
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silvercar.com
Open the app and unlock the car.
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Old Jun 25, 18, 9:47 am
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Forgot about Silvercar... I've used them once at PHX. Probably wouldn't do it again because of the long process to get to the car (which isn't entirely their fault), but in an airport where I can walk from terminal to the cars, I'd do it again.
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Old Jun 25, 18, 10:44 am
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I'm an Avis customer and have no issue with their current process.

At locations where you take a shuttle bus the driver drops you right at your car.

At other large locations when you're walking to the lot, there's a board that shows your name a parking spot.

Get in the car, turn on the ignition and drive to the gate where an agent does a quick check of your license and you're done.

IIRC, I have recently received a text with the space number, which makes it even easier.
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Old Jun 26, 18, 10:52 am
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
Forgot about Silvercar... I've used them once at PHX. Probably wouldn't do it again because of the long process to get to the car (which isn't entirely their fault), but in an airport where I can walk from terminal to the cars, I'd do it again.
PHX is a pain to get to any of the rental car companies, how much worse is it with Silvercar?
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Old Jun 26, 18, 11:15 am
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i think that was their point, re PHX itself

i guess im glad i didnt rent there last time i rented in the area
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Old Jun 26, 18, 2:46 pm
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
The off-brands like Advantage, Payless, Sixt, etc. all want to do the hard-sell. I avoid those unless there's an absolutely crazy price that is going to justify 30-45 minutes of my time.
.
I just rented from Sixt in France and it was pretty painless.

"Do you want insurance?"
"No thanks, my credit card has primary insurance."
"OK. If there are any issues, we will charge you and they reimburse you. I'll be right back with your car."
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Old Jun 26, 18, 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by COSPILOT View Post
PHX is a pain to get to any of the rental car companies, how much worse is it with Silvercar?
My information may be dated, as Silvercar was just starting when I rented from them. But at the time (2015, maybe?) you had to take TWO shuttles to reach them - one beyond the regular rental car shuttle. This was prior to Uber/Lyft having a dedicated place to do airport pickups.

I don't know if Silvercar has since moved into the shared facility or otherwise improved the pickup process.
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