As a car rental business, let’s consider your business, your goals, your market and your services...
Some of these points may be very important to some people and completely irrelevant to others, so it's up to you to identify with what motivates your customers, and deliver on those needs.
Not everyone has the same needs. Customers are motivated in different ways, such as by price, quality, reliability, service, prestige, urgency, status, and so on. This applies to people buying everything from TVs to groceries, and of course car rental.
No business can be everything to everyone. Viewing everyone as a potential customer can be a mistake, and treating all customers the same without attempting to address their specific needs can lead to missed opportunities and losing customers to your competitors.
Your marketing efforts can go to waste, because you’ll be trying to reach out to anyone who might need to rent a car at some point in their life.
If you’re taking this general approach this whilst your competitors are focusing their attention on more specific types of customer and giving them precisely what they want, it will be your competitors who prosper, and their customers who benefit.
In other words, you lose!
No. The car rental industry has a broad scope, and within our sector we can offer a wide range of options. By targeting specific customer types with what matters most to them makes a lot of sense, but what actually does matter most to them?
If your reservation platform can allow customers to provide their age, identify where they’re from, etc., and even draw on any previous rentals they may have made with your company, you can then align the reservation path closer to their needs.
Then, if you can remove clutter and distractions by filtering out things you KNOW they won’t need and present them with the kind of vehicles, features, options, information and promotions more closely aligned with their objectives, they’re more likely to complete the reservation and buy from you.
That’s really up to you and the market you’re aiming at.
Think of the differences in the needs of a business traveller who needs an executive car delivered to their hotel so he can travel in style to and from meetings with colleagues, compared to price sensitive customers who wants a small economical car for a few days to explore the island they’re taking vacation on.
In the second example the customer might feel that a local independent car rental company is likely to be the best fit because they can be quite cheap. Is that type of customer someone you would want to attract, and a good fit for your brand and business model?
The big car rental brands understand that they can't be all things to all people, and therefore some of the premium car rental brands ALSO have other brands under their umbrella, such as Thrifty, Dollar and Firefly being under the Hertz umbrella, and Avis also operating the Budget and Zipcar brands.
Those other brands are not intended to compete with the parent company, but instead focus their efforts on other markets. Their target customers will be somewhat different to those that the premium brands may be aiming for, and their pricing, products and overall experience will be more aligned with those other markets.
Customers have different needs, preferences and expectations, which can be based on where they’re from, where they’re renting, their age, their budget, number of passengers, length of rental, and so on.
Some people put price at the top of their list, and tend to look for the cheapest car rental for their vacation, and will be perfectly happy with a 5-10 year old car, whilst others would expect a meticulously clean, low mileage car no older than 3 years.
Some will want a
dream car and will be looking for something sporty or exotic.
Some will want something spacious with enough luggage capacity for their family of 5 for a two week vacation.
Some will be in their late teens or early twenties, never rented a car before, and need to know about minimum driving ages, young driver surcharges and insurance options.
Some customers might not want a car at all. They might need to rent a van to help them move house, or to transport items home from a DIY store.
Van renters are likely to have different criteria than a car rental customer, and they're more likely to be interested in the physical dimensions (length, width, height and volume) of the cargo bay.
Compare the business model which is satisfied by a short term van rental solution such as Hertz 24/7 to the more conventional way of renting a van from their main van website, you’ll see how different the process needs to be to cater for that type of customer.
Consider three people with different needs arriving at your car rental website. Two of those visitors can be considered to be
Leisure customers and need cars for their holidays, but they have different criteria besides when and where they intend to rent a car. The third visitor needs a car for a couple of months whilst on business.
So we create scenarios based around typical requirements of each potential customer type, and we aim to ensure that our designs cater for them, but without the needs of one customer type compromising another customer type.
A man aged 24 from the UK is planning a romantic weekend away in the south of France with his girlfriend. He has decided to hire something special, and therefore isn’t interested in the cheapest cars available.
He is ideally looking for a sporty two seat cabriolet, and is looking forward feeling the wind through their hair as the drive along the coastal roads near Nice.
So he visits you car rental website:
A German man in his late 30’s has booked a holiday in Florida for himself, his wife, and their two children aged 3 and 8 years old.
He found an attractive offer for 20% off pre-paid bookings within a certain date range, and that fits perfectly with his plans. He needs to find details of each vehicle available to be sure that it will accommodate his family and their luggage, because he’ll be picking the car up at Miami Airport.
He also wants air con, GPS, and something to allow his children to watch videos whilst they’re travelling.
His wife might also want to drive, and so he needs to find out how to include her in the reservation, and how much extra it will cost.
For peace of mind, he also wants to know about what could happen if the car breaks down, and if there would be any additional charges if he returns the vehicle early.
So he goes to your car rental website to try and find what he’s looking for:
A man in his 40s needs to spend between 2 and 3 months in Italy on business, and needs a car on a long term rental.
His company are paying, and they have restricted his choice of vehicle to groups A, B or C.
He wants to know before booking, that the length of his reservation can be amended whilst on rent, because he is not exactly sure how long he will be needing the car.
When considering your customer journey, bear this in mind...
Around two thirds of people using the internet use mobile phones. Compared to the desktop layout of your website, the layout of each page on a mobile device is far more restricted, and therefore pages need to be streamlined with minimal clutter.
What could this mean in terms of our three persona examples?
We have looked at some examples of customer personas, and how meeting their needs may require certain features, options, information, price adjustments, and so on to be applied to the booking path they take.
Personalise it and make it easy for them, you'll attract and keep more customers. But make it difficult and you lose.