Budget Car Rental group general manager Duncan Peat fills TTN in on what’s in store for the brand in 2007. Excerpts:
What are the company’s plans for 2007?
We will continue to grow our business across all our products, i.e. daily rental, chauffeur drive and bus and coach rental. We have a new state-of-the-art facility planned that will include vehicle preparation facilities, workshops, and body-repair facilities. Approvals are now complete and the project is expected to be finished in late 2007. This will enable us to further enhance our service to customers. Being in control of our own workshop is very important and will enable quicker turn around of cars being serviced, reduce overall downtime and enable pricing to remain competitive.
Are you bullish about 2007?
Yes we are very confident about 2007. As new hotels come on stream and the number of hotel rooms available increases, as the population increases with new residents, so does the potential car rental market. Our objective is to outperform the car market and to increase our share of the new resident market. Our growth in 2006 was around 28 per cent and we are planning similar growth for this year.
What would you say were your biggest achievements in 2006?
The biggest achievement has been to maintain our operating margins in our daily rental business despite the ever increasing competitive nature of the market. This has been achieved by a combination of growth, marginal price movement and a continued concentration on a value-for-money product.
Finally, with all the new competition, what is your strategy to stay ahead of the rest?
The market is becoming ever more competitive as each year goes by, mainly through price pressure from non-franchise companies who see the way in to the market as price driven. For Budget to stay ahead of this and continue to grow we have to concentrate on improving our ability to make the reservation and rental processes as easy and simple as possible. The focus will be on taking reservations via internet and local web sites. We have increased the internet reservations received each year, in 2006 this increase was 52 per cent. These are generated from our own web sites as well as the sites of specialist car rental brokers, internet travel specialists and local partners. We have now started a programme of linking our reservation system to our major partners through an interface developed by our software supplier and this has proved extremely successful and we are now able to offer real-time reservation confirmation as with our internet reservation system.