National Car Rental Grows with Customer Input

National Car Rental officials Rob Connors and Meghan Maguire, assistant vice president of marketing and public relations manager, respectively, stopped by the Travel Agent Central offices this week to give us an update on the company's recent activities and to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their acquisition by Enterprise Holdings.

Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of both Enterprise and Alamo Rent-A-Car, acquired National five years ago, successfully transitioning it into the Enterprise organization. Since then, according to Connors, National revenue has increased by 20 percent.

Connors attributes this growth to the fact that National is always looking for ways to better serve its Emerald Club members, since the group of loyal customers accounts for up to 75 percent of its business. They do this by asking the group exactly what they want out of their rental experience.

To get a good cross section of its customer base, National formed an on-line community of 300 customers, aptly named selected from many thousands. Through online forums, message boards, and even real time chats with Connors and other company members, the focus of the group, aptly named "The Emerald Exchange", has allowed National a very real insight into what consumers want and needs. In a word, it’s convenience.

These detailed and intimate communications led to innovations by National, such as "Arrival Alert," a service that, as its name implies, “alerts” members when their flight lands with all the information they need to quickly reach the National rental location and to complete their transaction. Implemented about a year ago, the feature was an immediate success, said Connors, as customers were provided with everything from their reservation number and location to directions on how to reach the rental center. For busy travelers, it means getting in a care and on their way quickly, efficiently, and conveniently.

The Emerald Exchange also provided insight and feedback about the Emerald Aisle, another service available to National’s premium members. This service allows members to completely bypass the rental counter and go directly to a specified area of the rental lot to choose any vehicle they want while still paying the mid-size rate. Not only a time-saver, but members like being able to choose what they drive, said Connors. On the return, they have the option to simply drop the car off and have the receipt e-mailed to them, eliminating the worry of missing a flight.

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