Thursday, November 13, 2014

Renting a vacation car at an airport? Check these rankings and stats

Plan to rent a car on your next vacation? Read this before you make your reservation.

The research firm  J.D. Power just released its annual study of rental-car satisfaction. The study -- now in its 19th year -- is based on more than 12,000 evaluations by business and leisure trvelers who rented vehicles at airport locations between August 2013 and August 2014.

The rankings are based on six factors. Those factors, in descending order of importance: cost and fees, pickup process, return process, the rental car itself, shuttle bus/van, and reservation process.

Here are the overall results of the  2014 North American Rental Car Satisfaction Study


The results were scored on a points basis. Of a possible 1,000 points, Enterprise scored 805;  Dollar scored 725.

The list is identical to the J.D. Power 2013 rankings, except last year National came in first and Enterprise second.

Some findings of note from the 2014 study:

Overall satisfaction is highest among Gen Y vehicle-renters (born between 1977 and 1994)  in both business and leisure categories.

Among all business customers, 15 percent make their choice on price alone ‑- and 10 percent report they don't consider price at all.

Satisfaction is higher among both business and leisure customers who chose their brand based on features and benefits, as opposed to those why are "price buyers."

The study reports that the price of a rental car has increased, on average, $5 per day since the previous year's survey.

Also, wait times are longer for all aspects of the rental process. Average wait time for the vehicle pickup and return process: 43.4 minutes.

Those surveyed reported that getting a smile from the rental agent makes the wait seem shorter... and that, on average,  customers greeted by a smiling agent indeed waited for a shorter car-pickup period (16.8 minutes) than those who dealt with Mr. or Ms. Grumpy (25.7 minutes).

(Note: The Los Angeles Times photo at the top of this blog shows rental counters at the airport in Burbank, Calif. It's hard to tell if the rental agents are smiling... but they are working at Burbank's Bob Hope Airport.)


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