SALIM DAMJI, senior general manager for Budget Car & Van Rental in the UAE speaks to TTN about business in the emirate and new trends to look forward to in 2013.
How has business fared for Budget Rent a Car in the UAE in 2012?
Budget Rent a Car, a member of the UAE-based Liberty Group, has been a leading player in the UAE car rental business for over 30 years. We have a substantial market share in daily, weekly and monthly rentals as well as in vehicle leasing. In the absence of official industry figures, we are unable to give exact market share statistics; but based on our internal market analysis, our market share in car rentals at airport locations is around 30 - 35 per cent.
Budget has the short term business for daily and weekly rentals which caters to tourism and leisure, whereas the long term business (monthly and leased rentals) comes from the corporate sector. We get the bulk of our daily rentals from tourism, whereas the leasing business is driven by the local and expatriate community, in keeping with the industry trend. Both daily, weekly and lease business performed very well and that has contributed to further growth in 2012.
What key developments are you planning for 2013?
The local market is improving and the demand is shifting to high-end cars. We will be adding new models of Cadillac, Opel, Chevrolet and other vehicles to expand our fleet, in response to the changing trends of the local market. We expect these vehicles to be in high demand in 2013 as they have been very successful in other markets. This trend will help us tap a new customer segment, thus further boosting our vehicle rental business. We have 22 branches across UAE. In 2013, we plan to strengthen the network aggressively across the country by increasing our branches, hotlines and micro-links. This will provide easier access to our customers and help Budget to penetrate deeper into the market.
In a highly competitive market such as the UAE, what will you be doing to ensure 2013 is a success?
The UAE is a highly competitive market. We will be pricing our products attractively and ensure good value added services. We will be focusing on hotels and tour operators, as the tourism industry has bounced back, as reflected in the increased tourism business. Our main focus in 2013 will be to boost our market share from tourism and the corporate sector.
Budget versus high-end cars, what are the trends favouring 2013?
To cater to the needs of high-end customers, we are introducing a new group of sports cars, apart from the upmarket Cadillacs, Opels, Chevrolets and other vehicles in 2013.
What other new trends can we see from in the car rental industry?
Budget will be shortly introducing a new loyalty programme which will reward our regular customers with substantial discounts and also enable them to benefit from our day to day promotions. We are also introducing Chevrolet Camaro in our daily rentals. This is based on our market research which has revealed a strong preference for such high-end sports vehicles.
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