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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 

Vol. 2 No. 17

The 2006 Car Rental Show – “Car Rental Guys” and Vegas…What Could be Better?

Plus: Podcast with Sherb Brown, Vice President & Group Publisher, Bobit Media, and head of The Car Rental Show, April 3-5, 2006

From my last blog entry, it’s probably not a secret that I like rental “car guys” as much as I like retail car folks, and, from all the past blog entries, anyone who can read more than a few sentences realizes how I feel about the town of Las Vegas. So when the two were combined in Bobit Business Media’s annual Car Rental Show, April 3-5 this year, you could have wagered on my being front and center. In fact, this is the first time the Car Rental Show (CRS) came this time of year (it usually is in the fall), which was perfect timing for me, as it was a continuation of my conversations with rental car folks, that started at the National & Alamo Licensee Conference a few weeks ago.

The Bobit Media Car Rental Show was attended by licensees from all the major car rental companies, as well as a diverse group of the largest independent car rental operators from around the country. Depending on your area of the country, names like Fox Rent A Car, Ace Rent A Car, or Triangle Rent A Car, may or may not be familiar, but their principals and operators were at this year’s CRS as well. I’m glad that was the case, as I got to meet a whole new group of very entrepreneurial rental “car guys” that are a pleasure to talk business and hang out in Vegas with.

As you’d expect at any Bobit Business Media event, there was a plethora of information- packed seminars for rental car operators, offered in concurrent sessions under two broad categories: “Operational/Management/Finance” and “Customer Service/Sales.” As usual, a lot of information was packed into one and half days, with seminars like “Revealing the Customer Experience” which detailed the results of JD Power & Associates recent car rental study, a panel discussion on the “The Insider’s Guide to Fleet Financing,” and an open forum panel about the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), moderated by Sherb Brown, Vice President and Group Publisher of Bobit Business Media. While a lot of the information in some of the seminars didn’t apply to what we do directly here at Driveitaway, I’ve always believed that, in general, the more we learn about the current best practices and issues facing our clients the better we can understand and serve the industry on the remarketing front, so it was all very interesting.

The keynote on Wednesday, “Demystifying True Leadership” was presented by Kevin Catlin of Insight Strategies, a company that specializes in increasing organizational performance capabilities., which of course, was pertinent to any business management situation, as it broke down the concept of good leadership into actionable business practices. And, as you come to expect from the Car Rental Show, there was an active exhibition floor filled with a variety of vendors servicing the car rental industry. The open convention floor mingling (at lunches, receptions, etc.), is always one of my favorite parts of any conference, as I get to catch up with old friends and meet many new ones.

So Now I’m Even More Convinced…

Attending the Car Rental Show convinced me more than ever of two things: a) as the car rental industry transitions from “program” to “risk” vehicles -- that is cars provided by the manufacturers under a guaranteed “buy back” program versus cars in which the rental car operator is responsible for reselling them --,our upstream remarketing solution is the right “product” at the right time, and b) I especially enjoy working with the entrepreneurial principals and independent operators in the car rental industry. The quick response, the eagerness to try something new, the camaraderie, ....these are real car guys….

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