Travelers who rent cars at airports are showing higher levels of satisfaction this year, according to J.D. Power and Associates – but not because they’re less frustrated with the logistics of booking and picking up a vehicle.
They’re more satisfied with the rental experience mainly because they’re not paying as much.
“Lower prices are having a positive effect on perceived value for renters, which is raising overall levels of satisfaction, but several other key quality measures—notably, wait times and problems with the pick-up and return processes—have not improved over the past four years,” said Michael Taylor, the executive in charge of travel surveys at J.D. Power. “But cheaper daily rental rates overcome those negatives for most renters.”
The company found that the average reported daily price for renting a car fell by $11 a day in 2017, which was the major factor in driving up customer satisfaction by 22 points to 826 on J.D. Power’s 1,000-point scale.
But a continuing increase in the number of travelers is leading to delays in picking up cars, and the explosion of major construction and renovation projects at many major airports isn’t helping either.
J.D. Power said that from 2013 to 2017, the average waiting time for customers to pick up a vehicle increased by two minutes. “Of customers who experienced a problem, 20 percent reported a problem with the pick-up process and 17 percent reported a problem with the return process, a phenomenon that is largely attributable to increased passenger volume and construction at airports,” J.D. Power said.
While customers are generally happy to see rental prices drop this year – perhaps as a result of ride-sharing services continuing to steal market share from rental companies – the survey found that renters who focus only on price in selecting a vendor and vehicle may regret it.
“Renters who choose rental car brands based on price alone are the least satisfied (787), while customers who choose a rental car brand based on features and benefits are the most highly satisfied (889),” the company noted. Advice: You get what you pay for when renting cars!
The survey also found that rental car customers expect to get a response from their vendor when they post something on social media about their rental experience. Seven out of 10 car renters expressed that view in the survey – a rate much higher than the 45 percent of airline and hotel customers who have similar expectations.
And rental companies should reply to posts if they want to keep customers happy. “When a rental car company simply responds to a post, satisfaction increases 63 points on average. If the issue is resolved, the satisfaction score jumps 95 points,” the company said.
For the fourth consecutive year, Enterprise ranked in the top spot for customer satisfaction with a score of 851. National was second, Alamo came in third– and note that all three are part of the same company, Enterprise Holdings. Hertz (which also owns Dollar and Thrifty) ranked fourth. Avis, which also owns Budget, ranked fifth.
Which car rental company do you use most often? Have your rental car habits changed much lately? Noticing cheaper rates? Please leave your comments below.
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