AMONG the fastest growing firms in the UAE is Budget Rent A Car, which ends 2004 with an upswing of 35 per cent across all segments of business.
This growth, said Duncan Peat, general manager Budget, UAE, comes as a result of the firm’s unique positioning through all segments of transportation services. In addition to traditional self-drive services, the firm offers long-term leasing, commercial vehicles rental, four-wheel drives specially adapted for safari use, transfer services, chauffeur drive and a top-of-the-range coach service using the latest Mercedes luxury coaches.
Peat spoke to TTN about Budget and where the market is headed:
What was business like in 2004?
2004 business levels have exceeded our plans and expectations. Overall business has grown by more than 35 per cent across all segments of our business. Contributory factors included the ever-increasing population of Dubai, the return in confidence of the tourist market which had been hit by the Iraq war in early 2004, and the consistent increase in fairs and exhibitions whose organisers choose Dubai for the excellent facilities now available.
The growth in Budget’s business has outperformed the market and our market share in all areas is consistently increasing. This confirms that our concentration on quality service is the right approach; visitors and residents have come to expect a high quality of trouble-free service from all travel-related industries. Naturally, we will continue with our efforts to maintain and improve further the quality service we provide.
The beginning of a new year is the ideal time to ask what are your plans for 2005?
The age of our fleet will be further reduced to give an average of around nine months on self-drive vehicles. New models will be brought into the fleet as soon as manufacturers introduce them to the market, this has proved successful in the past and we will continue with that approach. Reservations through various internet sources have grown in 2004 and now represent approximately 15 per cent of reservations through Dubai airport. Our target for 2005 is to increase that to 20 per cent.
How is the rental car industry shaping up in 2005? What trends can we expect to see this year?
The rental industry is extremely strong in the country, there are probably more car rental companies here than in any other equivalent country. I do not see any major changes in the industry in 2005, business will continue to grow and the companies who will capitalise on the UAE’s growth will be those who provide value for money allied with a top-quality service
Budget has been operating a chauffeur service for 15 years. With the arrival of new chauffeur-drive car rental companies, how has the market changed? What is this trend saying about the market?
There has always been competition in the chauffeur-drive market. We are certainly one of the biggest companies in this area and as with self-drive there will always be a wide range of operators joining the market. This market is split into various segments, from customers looking for a value for money alternative to taxis, through to people looking for a top-quality chauffeur-drive company with stretch limousines, etc. We have adapted our range of services to cater for all segments of this market. More and more visitors coming to Dubai realise the need for a safe option when negotiating the road system here. Budget’s concentration is on safety, well trained knowledgeable drivers and value-for-money services.
How far have e-bookings changed the nature of the business?
E-bookings have made it much easier for potential customers to shop for car rental services, most search engines return with price ordered quotations and to gain reservations it is essential for the price to be right and for the reservation system to be easy to use. Budget’s international sites are extremely easy to use and the Budget UK site has recently been praised as the best of its type. This method of generating reservations is going to increase dramatically as customer confidence in internet purchases continues to grow.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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