Dollar Thrifty marks entry into India

Sam Eltibi, regional director of DTAG, finds regional markets always outpacing growth.
Eltibi: looking at new markets

How has 2007 fared for the company?
In the Middle East, North Africa and India it was a bumper year, revenue, profits and growth wise.

The company outperformed over and beyond all of our forecasts and expectations. This was driven by two main factors: organic growth of existing operations and new countries addition. On top of that, our venture into India was nothing but a set of good news.
What are your plans for 2008?
We are eyeing to grow each licensee separately and on top of that we have a number of branches in each country lined up. We are planning to be more forward coming than ever and implement our strategy as we planned it. We keep increasing our fleet, but all regional markets are always outpacing our growth. We have an important date in May 2008 with our new Dollar and Thrifty counters at the Dubai Airport Terminal III among our new openings.

Do you have plans to enter into new markets?
In 2008 we will witness the official opening of both Dollar and Thrifty in Morocco and Egypt, also we have lined up more prospects to open through 2008. Also, Dollar will be operational in Qatar, Oman and Jordan.

What can customers look forward to in the New Year?
In the new year, I trust customers can look forward to a regional industry that became a backbone for the tourism mix, all car rental operators are working hard to meet customers expectations, customers can find us anywhere. We hope that conditions in the MENA region will become ripe to introduce some of the new products that the US and Europe have seen, such as GPS rentals and hybrids.

What will be your biggest challenges facing the industry in 2008?
These are endless, from more regulatory restrictions, to road tolls, to operational costs increase driven by a crippling regional inflation, real estate and locations prices increase, cost of oil increase, any fallbacks from the US economic slowdown, will have some resonance in Asia and Europe as well.
Cost of fleet is increasing driven by a weaker dollar as well as some models are becoming in short supply. This combined with the fact that car rental prices are not increasing as much and the market supply of product is very high due to the huge number of local operators makes operating a more challenging task. At the end of all this, we view that consolidation is eminent and it will be survival of the fittest in testing times.