Never miss a Car Hire discount code!
Get exclusive offers straight to your inbox
Get exclusive offers straight to your inbox
The travel industry has grown exponentially over the last century, with consumers from all walks of life saving up their disposable income to pay for trips to far flung places; determined to explore and find adventure in some of the most exciting destinations around the world. In looking at and breaking down the travel and holiday industry in terms of its most popular destinations and trends, it seems as if the captive consumer base is divided between those who prefer package holidays and the sanctity of a resort, and those who prefer to plan their trips independently and take in everything a new destination has to offer from a real life perspective. And while the car hire industry is supported by all travellers, the latter group are the ones who are primarily responsible for the growth and evolution of car hire as an industry of itself.
The fact is that car hire is designed to support consumer’s own exploration and travel. The freedom of having access to your own vehicle makes getting around at your own leisure both easy and enjoyable – and with so many companies now offering car hire for different budgets and different requirements, the vast range of choices available to consumers means that car hire is now more popular than ever.
While the top providers on the modern market may be fairly new names, in fact vehicle rental is a business concept which dates back over a century – with horses and carriages being rented out to captive consumers long before the modern car made its mark and sparked the automotive revolution.
The very earliest records of car hire being made into a business proposition stem from 1904 when a bicycle shop started offering cars for consumer rent in Minneapolis. Not only after, Sixt was founded in Germany – starting with three cars and growing into an empire which is still one of the biggest names in the industry today. From there, the industry boomed, with entrepreneurs and family businesses spotting holes in the market of individual states and countries; creating new busines models which hired out cars to consumers who wanted the ease and convenience of their own mode of transport for a few days, and who were able and willing to pay for the privilege.
One of the most successful car hire individuals, who was operating and making huge sums of money in the 1920’s before ultimately selling his company to John D Hertz said of the industry that people were keen to rent cars because owning one was just too expensive. The automotive industry was one which was hugely popular and which has grown in great waves over the years, however it is through the provision of early car rental that most average consumers were able to experience the freedom of their own access to a car. The first British company was founded in 1920 as well, though this was ultimately purchased by Europcar in 1981 as the successful company expanded overseas.
One of the biggest developments in the mid 1900’s with regards to care hire was the recognition it received from the railway network, leading to railway stations allocating parking spaces across their sites to rental cars and rental car companies. These were designed to create a seamless transition for travellers from train to car, particularly as people enjoyed more disposable income after the war and so were more likely to travel for leisure and hire cars for ease. As the 1950’s wore on, more people began to own cars – but many still chose to rent, with rentals lasting for a series of months in many cases.
In recent decades, the car hire industry has altered its proposition and strategy though the concept and business model is very much the same. Today, more people own their own cars than ever before, but these same people are much more likely to travel abroad and enjoy regular holiday breaks once or twice a year. These are the people who look to rent cars for the convenience of travel during their holidays, with most of the biggest names in the car hire industry enjoying international status now as consumers look to receive their rental car from a company they recognise and know.
One of the most notable things about the car hire industry and the way that consumers interact with the industry lies in the providers that consumers choose to book their rental through. Hiring a car is not necessarily a hue expense, but for many the provision of a rental car also means a focus on safety and reliability – as consumers demand cars which are comfortable but also safe and cost effective to run. As such, it seems that while there are a wide range of car hire providers out there, it is the international ones which see the biggest demand – purely because consumers recognise the name and know what they are getting in terms of service. After all, hiring a car means putting the safety of yourself and your family in that car, under the assumption that the hire company has checked the care is safe and has maintained it to a high standard. This is not just about aesthetics; it is also about the basic structure and safety features of the car.
But while reliability and previous user testimonials play a big part in the success of car hire providers, cost is still a major factor and one which influences the booking decisions of many consumers. It is common knowledge that, as per most other travel industry sectors, booking in advance is the most cost effective way of securing a car for rent. The industry today makes this easier than ever before, with the creation of various car hire comparison and booking sites presenting consumers with all their options according to different providers, based on their travel dates, the number of travellers they have, the size of car they need, and the extra features they wish to add to the booking. For the most part, this means that consumers have the opportunity to browse the offers and deals available to them, with these sites constantly changing their offers and prices in line with demand and seasonality – though consumers should note the fine print with all pre-bookings, and familiarise themselves with the terms of booking and the car hire.
Some of the biggest names in the car hire industry on a global scale include:
As well as these largescale international names, we also tend to find that some countries and areas operate their own much smaller and independent car hire companies, particularly with regards to popular tourist destinations where smaller businesses operate in order to provide last minute car rentals to those travellers who decide on arrival to hire a car for their stay. Depending on the destination and the scale of the provider, these smaller and more low key businesses can often charge much lower fees than the big companies – however this is a gamble, and the hire fee often comes without any guarantee or added insurance.
To compare the car hire industry today with the earliest examples seen back in the early 1900’s, it seems as though the rise in digitalisation and the complexity of modern cars has, if anything, made the whole process more complicated and long winded. Gone are the days when a consumer could simply wander into a rental shop and drive away with a car for a few pounds. Today, contracts must be signed and credit cards provided to cover the cost of any unforeseen damage; complete car checks are undertaken by the provider and the consumer before and after each rental in order to make sure that any damage is clearly marked to showcase and prove blame; even the rental itself is based on specific terms, for example not going over a certain mileage during the course of the rental, or ensuring that the car is returned with a full tank of fuel. Another major condition which has grown in significance in the last couple of decades is the importance of age when it comes to hiring a vehicle – with most countries now operating a condition where drivers under a certain age will incur higher fees when it comes to car rental, or where drivers who have only been driving for a short period of time can again incur higher fees. What this is designed to do is protect the provider from potential damage which it is assumed will come from younger or more inexperienced drivers, though this does not allow for or acknowledge any former driving penalties and so is fairly inconclusive when it comes to the actual risk associated with allowing any driver to hire a car.
We tend to find that those consumers who are looking for a deal can find the cheapest car hire deals attached to those rentals which come with the most conditions of hire. If the provider is offered a cheap deal, especially when compared with other providers under the same conditions, it follows that the terms of hire will be much more extensive – operated under the assumption that consumers may well fall into one of the many traps laid by the provider and that as a result they may indeed incur a fine.
Similarly, we are seeing more and more of a focus from car hire providers on presenting consumers with a complete deal rather than just the provision of a car. The earliest examples of car hire and car rental would provide the consumer with keys and vehicle – however, providers today offer complete packages which include insurance for the driver and insurance for any additional named drivers, the rental of in-car navigation systems, car and baby seats, WiFi hotspot devices for browsing on the go, roadside protection, winter tyres for colder climates, and even delivery and pick up of the vehicle from the departure gate at the airport. All of these extra features are designed to make the car hire process as seamless as possible for the consumer, though in doing so consumers should again be conscious of price and are recommended to shop around online to determine how much some of those features would cost if booked through an external party – particularly with regards to insurance and roadside assistance while abroad.
What this presents is a big divide between the leading providers in terms of reviews and customer feedback, and those which operate largescale operations all over the world but receive terrible reviews. We have already discussed how car hire comparison sites give consumers an opportunity to compare deals across multiple providers depending on the filters they have applied with regards to the hire they are looking for – but what we haven’t yet mentioned is the fact that on these sites, each provider has a star rating under their logo to show how well they have been rated by previous consumers. It is up to the customer how they choose to use this information, though we often find that these ratings are hugely indicative of how previous renters have found the service to be in the past. A couple of the top examples of a comparison sites which are popular on an international scale include Travel Supermarket and Kayak; both offering consumers the promise of clear and relevant information which outlines the most cost effective car hire choice dependent on their requirements and preferences.
Enter your email address below and we’ll be in touch with the latest deals and discount codes for