Auto Europe Nears 1 Millionth Booking

Travel agents – including home-based independents -will remain at the core of Auto Europe’s marketing program that now includes new global product lines available to travel agent partners, Eric Ledroux, recently named Auto Europe’s president, North America told Travel Agent.

Ledroux, an industry veteran with over 21 years in the industry, including positions with Renault, Avis Europe and Europcar, will complement the leadership of Imad Khalidi, Auto Europe’s long serving CEO. Khalidi will focus on international expansion while Ledroux expands services in North America.

“Travel agents have made Auto Europe what it is today, and represent about 50 percent of our business. That will not change. Nor will it change our commitment to service and support of the agency community – and to their clients - which remains indispensible,” Ledroux said.

This year Auto Europe expects to reach a milestone in the form of its one-millionth-car rental booking since its founding 56 years ago. To celebrate, Auto Europe will award the travel agent who books the millionth car rental a free iPad while the client will be a rewarded by waiving the fees for the car rental.

In a intensely competitive business Auto Europe holds its own against the industry giants such as Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, Thrifty and a host of smaller local firms. Ledroux believes that is due to sustained agent support, competitive pricing, on time commission payment (commissions average 10 to 12 percent) and constant innovations.

One example is Auto Europe’s “Global Agent” program that now includes 4,500 plus agent partners. With Global Agent agencies can sell International car rentals online. Agents can quote, book, modify, look-up vouchers and add payment to existing reservations along with having the ability to view real-time production reports.

Global Agent not only benefits travel agencies, but also corporate offices where reservationists do not have the ability to make outgoing calls and host agencies with a large subscriber base of home based agents, Ledroux says. Reservations made through Global Agent are fully commissionable.

IATA, ARC, CLIA or in-house numbers is transmitted "behind the scenes" when the reservation is made. The agency also gains the ability to review real-time production. Reports can be viewed on-line and offer a detailed breakdown of agency/agent reservations and commissions.

Auto Europe has also expanded from is European base to become a global company servicing over 8,000 car rental locations in over 130 countries worldwide. Auto Europe’s tour division DestinationEurope was rebranded FlyInternational earlier this year. offers scheduled airfare to Europe with over 30 carriers. In addition, agents get access to three, four and five star hotels and chauffer and transfer services. Car rentals include prestige and sports car and motor coach rentals. Last but not least there are mobile phone and GPS rentals.

Ledroux notes that Auto Europe’s headquarters in Portland, ME, supports agents and clients 24/7 on a global basis and that Auto Europe has strong ongoing relationships with agency consortia and marketing networks.

A hallmark of Auto Europe’s marketing – headed by Nanci Sullivan, vice president, marketing – is a stream of promotions and deals ranging from free lobsters to incentive commissions that keep Auto Europe in the news. Auto Europe’s announcement of motorcycle rentals in Europe opened agent’s eyes to a new market niche.

Current promotions, for example, include ski destinations in Europe. This includes programs for travelers who wish to visit the Alps, Dolomites or Mt. Etna in Italy with car rental rates begin at $34 per day. Tyrol and Innsbruck car rental rates begin at $21 per day. Rates in Switzerland start s low as $38 per day. Rates in the French Alps start at $25 per day.

Globally Auto Europe has grown and has offices in the UK, Europe, China, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. And Ledroux expects 2011 to be another solid year of growth. With Sullivan, Ledroux stresses the obvious importance of car rentals to travel agents as a vital source of revenue – and as a marketing tool to deliver a full range of services to clients.

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