AeroCar is an established company that acts as a clearinghouse for customers seeking low-cost car hire from airports across Europe and the United States. Aerocar currently runs as a service to travel agents to allow them to request airport car hire for their clients. The travel agent will fill in a request form and fax it to AeroCar. Aerocar employees then search for the best appropriate car hire prices from a range of car hire companies; they find the best quote and phone back the travel agent to confirm. If accepted they make the booking and send a confirmation by post to the travel agent.

This service has been a proven business success over a number of years, but the business has now started to fall away with the decline of high street travel agencies. AeroCar has now decided to invest in a major new Internet-based system to make their services available to a wider range of customers. At the same time, the new business model is designed to reduce personnel costs to succeed in an increasingly competitive market.

The New Business Model

The main features of the new business model will be:

  • Both travel agents and members of the public will be able to make car booking requests through a web-based interface
    • The current best rental prices for each airport for each class of vehicle available can be displayed through this interface (though there is no guarantee that these exact prices will be charged when receiving a quotation).
  • Users will be also be able to request quotations by phoning AeroCar
  • AeroCar employees will check the current offers from the rental companies and check availability with each in turn until the best possible offer is found. A quote will then be created and the information sent by e-mail to the customer. The customer has a period of three days to take up the quote before it expires. If the customer takes up the quote, then the booking is confirmed and the customer and the hire company are notified by e-mail. The customer will then be able to print off a voucher by accessing the website.

Various perspectives on the new business model

The public perspective

Low-cost car rental is provided for a wide range of airports across Europe and the US. Prices are cheaper, especially at the larger airports where as many as 20 different rental companies may be operating. A wider range of vehicles is available than through traditional booking systems. It is not possible to get an immediate quote from the system, but the delay is usually less than 24 hours.

The customer doesn’t have to pay until picking the car up at the airport. There are no cancellation fees.

The travel agent perspective

AeroCar offer no “cut” in the prices to travel agents, but the cheaper prices enable travel agents to put together more competitive packages to their customers, so the new system will attract widespread use throughout the industry.

The car rental company perspective

Car rental companies have to pay a fixed percentage to AeroCar for each booking made through them. Although AeroCar’s business is less profitable than bookings made directly to the rental firms, none but the largest companies such as Hertz and Avis can afford to ignore the large customer base of AeroCar, currently in the region of 300,000 people.

The effort required from a car rental company to participate in the system is relatively light. The company must classify its vehicles according to the AeroCar scheme and provide prices (in local currency) for each class for each airport from which it operates. These prices may be adjusted at any time, but in practice most companies will only change prices when moving from low to high season and vice versa.

The car rental company has to tolerate a proportion of “no shows” for bookings. Booked vehicles can be returned to the rental pool if the customer does not appear at the rental company desk within 2 hours of flight arrival.

Major information flows

From the customer requesting a quote:

Home country
Airport country
Airport name
Start date/time
End date/time
Customer name
E-mail address
Driver age
Vehicle class

From AeroCar to the customer

Quotation reference
Total price (local currency)
Total price (home currency at current conversion rate)

From the customer making a booking

Quotation reference
Flight code (arrival only)
Driver details
Contact details in rental country

On the AeroCar booking voucher

All of the details shown above
Booking reference
Car rental company name and location

From the participating rental company

Company name
For each airport:
Country name
Airport name
Company location
For each class of vehicle offered at that location:
Class code
Rental price per day (local currency)
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