National forays into GCC market

Blott feels that National have picked the right time to enter the market.

With the car rental and leasing industry in the Middle East region developing into a burgeoning sector it is no wonder then that ANC Rental Corporation has decided to make its foray into the market. ANC Rental Corporation, is the parent company of the National and Alamo car rental brands.

National Car Rental currently operates in over 1300 locations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asian-Pacific, Africa and Australasia and maintains sales offices throughout the globe.

ANC, operates over 275,000 vehicles that serve over 15 million travellers annually, according to Peter Blott, managing director of ANC Marketing Services Middle East Ltd, (AMS).

According to Blott National Car Rental hopes to bring with it complete solutions to the business, rather than just simply appointing franchises in isolation.

Blott adds that the company has a vision of doing things in a different and very dynamic manner. What makes them different is the provision of a complete range of services to its regional licenses including, but not limited to a global and regional reservation service operated through a call centre in their office in Dubai, regional sales and marketing initiatives including travel trade programmes, training and regional purchasing including fleet.

He says that they are looking for business partners and not merely franchisees to work with National, where AMS take on the responsibility for the development of the business as well, in order to help their partner franchisees to operate in a profitable manner. Therefore, any National franchisee has extra value and derived benefit from this system.

Blott says that all markets around the world have varying profiles, even though the basic fundamentals naturally remain the same. It is the same in this region and he proposes to run the Middle East operations from the Middle East and not through a distant Head Office in an environment unused to regional practices. This is the reason why the Middle East office has been established in Dubai.

So how differently is National going to do business in the world of Middle East car rental and leasing?

Blott says: "Our local corporate presence is twofold: First of all, we recognise that the Middle East is a particular market with its own particular needs and synergistic requirements. In order to maximise these opportunities it requires a commitment from both the franchisor and the franchisee, in our case, our business partners, and that the individual country businesses become a part of a regional business unit.

Blott is confident that the company has entered the fray at the right time. Of the fifteen countries National has plans for, operations have already begun in Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait, with the UAE being the latest to commence business in Dubai. The other Emirates will follow shortly. The company is looking forward to establishing a presence in 2003 in the remaining GCC countries of Oman and Saudi Arabia, followed by Egypt and the Levant countries.

National's USP will be tackling the intra-regional business in addition to providing a unified products and services in order to give their brand a decisive edge over the competition. "There is intra-Middle East potential, business that is available on a Pan-Arab basis that is not being utilised, for example. We will have a different standard of unified service available to that offered by other companies. It will be a seamless experience no matter where transactions occur," said Blott.

They are looking for partners who are already in allied businesses, such as the motor industry, travel and tours, hospitality, or businesses operating in the service industry sector generally.

ANC also own the Alamo brand which is more oriented towards the leisure client, whereas National is a provider of rental and leasing services to the corporate market. Alamo will be added to appropriate markets with leisure requirements subsequent to the positioning of National. So both these brands have their own agendas and visions and they are pretty clearly demarcated for the future.