AS THE region’s car rental industry prepares to enter another challenging year, SALIM DAMJI, senior general manager – Budget Car & Van Rental – UAE, speaks to TTN about the unique properties of the region and plans for the future.
How long has Budget been in the UAE and how many outlets are there now?
Budget has been in the car and van rental business in the UAE, for more than 30 years. Currently we have 16 outlets across the emirates. Budget is a member of the UAE-based Liberty Investment Co, which is the holding company of the Liberty Group.
Are all the Emirates covered?
Yes, all emirates are covered from our centralised offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and our 24/7 call centre. Umm Al Quwain and Ajman, being smaller emirates, are covered by our Sharjah offices while Al Ain is serviced by the Abu Dhabi offices. We are constantly on the lookout for good locations to open new branches in these emirates as well as to expand in the ones where we already have outlets.
How has business been in 2010 compared to 2009?
Aggressive marketing in 2010 enabled us to effectively utilise our fleet to the maximum and this resulted in us achieving the highest rental per vehicle, per month amongst all Budget licensees in the GCC. Also, in recognition of our performance, Budget – UAE earned the prestigious ‘High Performance for Marketing’ award during the annual conference of Budget licensees from Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Has there been a shift to smaller models in light of the financial uncertainty and is it continuing?
We have seen that most of our customers prefer to rent or lease economy cars to large luxury vehicles indicating a general shift to smaller cars. We believe this trend will continue in the next year.
Were any new branches opened in 2010?
Yes, in 2010 we opened four new locations in the UAE – the 24/7 call centre in Dubai, Sharjah Saif Zone, Downtown Dubai outlet and the JAL Tower Hotel in Dubai
Are there any further expansions planned for 2011?
Yes, we have aggressive expansion plans to grow the franchise locations as we move to our own larger facilities in the Dubai Investments Park. Four more locations – Al Ain, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah are scheduled to open in in the first half of 2011.
Are there any new trends emerging that you have observed?
Many long-term lease clients are considering a shift to monthly rentals as these corporate clients prefer to have a shorter period of commitment. This has resulted in record high monthly rentals for Budget.
Anything else you would like to add?
We have aggressive expansion plans in the short term to increase our fleet size and grow market share by 25 per cent year-on-year over the next three years. This will be achieved without compromising on our value for money, which has always been our core strength.
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