Avis opens outlet at Heathrow Terminal 5

Avis, a US-based car rental company with operations worldwide, has announced the launch of a new rental outlet at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport.

Terminal 5 is the airport’s newest terminal, having been developed for the primary use of British Airways, and Avis is the first car rental company to provide a service from the terminal. As many as 80,000 passengers are now using the terminal each day, and Avis has been selected by British Airways and its Spain-based sister company, Iberia, to be their exclusive car hire partner at the location.

Prior to Avis opening its Terminal 5 facility, passengers intending to rent a car on arrival had to take a bus to the nearest car rental facility, which added 20 minutes to the time that it took them to leave the airport. Avis now offer direct access to cars from the terminal, and Avis Preferred customers also have a priority desk and conveniently parked cars at their disposal.

Passengers choosing to rent Avis cars from the terminal will also benefit from accruing Avios points each time they rent.

Managing director of Avis UK, Kaye Ceille, commented, ‘Our launch at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 forms an important part of our business strategy; to make high quality and accessible car hire available to those coming in and out of the UK, wherever and whenever they need it. We are delighted that Avis customers are the first to be served at Terminal 5 and are looking forward to offering a comfortable and convenient onward travel option.’

Florida backtracks on law that penalised British car hirers

The authorities in Florida, USA, have backtracked on a recently introduced law that penalised British visitors wishing to hire a car in the southern state.

The law stated that all drivers of hire cars in Florida had to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order that an English translation of their licence was always available for production. While the law was introduced to account for the many foreign language visitors that descend on Florida each year, there was no exemption for carriers of English language licences from the UK, Canada and Australia, all of whom had been able to drive in Florida on presentation of their domestic driving licences until the law was passed. Also, the law was introduced in January with no great publicity, so British travellers were only made aware of its implications when they arrived to pick up their hire car and were told that they did not have the correct documentation.

Florida-based car hire companies who saw the legislation as a threat to their very lucrative business in fly-drive holidays soon took up the issue, and the authorities initially bowed to the pressure by saying that the law would not be enforced. When it became clear that drivers were still wary of the possible implications of flouting a standing law, despite the authorities’ assurance that they would not be penalised, the law was finally repealed. So, once again British visitors to Florida only need to carry their UK driving licence by law.

However, Rosie Sanderson, head of International Travel at the AA, told the Daily Mail, ‘Car hire companies and insurance companies can still impose their own terms and conditions and I certainly advise that travellers check with their intended car provider prior to travel or obtain the IDP as a precautionary measure.’

An IDP can be obtained from a UK Post Office for £5.50 and lasts for one year.

Budget UK launches luxury car rental service

Budget UK, a UK-based car rental company, has announced a new luxury car rental service to be known as Budget Premier.

With the introduction of the new service, customers will be able to opt for a luxury vehicle from any of three different categories to suit their specific needs or preferences. All Budget Premier cars will have satellite navigation, automatic transmission and a built in option to add an additional driver at no additional cost.

The three ranges that are available from the new service are the Executive range, aimed at relaxation and comfort and including the Audi A5 2.0, Jaguar XF and Mercedes S-Class; the Sports & Cabriolet range, for impressive, sporty models, including the Mercedes C250 Sport, Volkswagen Scirocco and Audi A5 Cabriolet; and the 4×4 SUV range, offering more passenger and luggage space, and including the Audi Q5 4×4, Mercedes ML 4×4 and Land Rover Discovery 4×4. The cars listed are of the type within each category, and customers may be provided with a similar model subject to availability.

The luxury rental option is available from Budget UK outlets in Central London, Heathrow Airport, Central Manchester, Manchester Airport and Scotland, with rental prices start from £84 per day.

The managing director of Budget UK, Kaye Ceille, said, ‘At Budget, we’re committed to providing our customers with a great choice of vehicles at even better prices. Budget Premier is a brilliant new service for those wanting to drive away in style without paying a premium, offering the very best in affordable luxury.’

Europcar Announces Addition of BMW Models to Fleet

Europcar, a France-based car rental company, will soon be offering its customers the choice of hiring a BMW.

Reacting to customer demand, the company will be including the BMW 3 and 5 Series vehicles as part of its Prestige by Europcar fleet. These vehicles are claimed to offer a superlative driving experience, and a number of customisation options for customers, and they can be booked for rental from February onwards.

Ken McCall, the managing director of Europcar UK Group, said, ‘BMW stands for engineering perfection, elegance and class, so we are really excited to be adding these vehicles to the Prestige fleet.

Whether it’s impressing clients on a business trip or turning heads at a special event, driving a BMW makes travelling a pleasure rather than a chore.

Our new partnership with BMW ensures Europcar customers continue to gain access to some of the most desirable cars on the road today. And available from our national network of locations, the Prestige by Europcar fleet takes the stress out of travel and adds that touch of luxury.’

Recently, the company also introduced van hire to its range and is offering discounted rentals on all van hire booked up until January 31, for reservations up until August 31, this year.

Ken McCall said, ‘The current economic climate continues to put pressure on businesses of all sizes. But for those organisations that can plan ahead, our January sale provides a great way to manage transportation costs through the year. Hiring, rather than having to find the funds for vehicle purchase, makes a lot of sense for businesses. And our January sale makes it even more cost-effective to add extra fleet to meet big orders, providing a vital lifeline for SMEs keen to keep their drivers on the road.’

Remain Careful on Roads in Freezing Winter Conditions, Advices Car Rental Companies

With January temperatures in the UK freezing, travellers using the roads have to be doubly careful while driving on treacherous terrain.

-Here are some winter driving tips:

-Keep time in hand for long distance drives, to avoid unnecessary hurries.

-Slow down in icy conditions for better control of the car, and allow longer distances to brake.

-Control skidding on ice by releasing the accelerator, and not braking.

-Be careful of shaded roads, which may hide icy road conditions.

-Wear sunglasses to avoid being blinded by the sun reflected on ice.

-Remain extra vigilant on roads and look out for pedestrians and cyclists, who could be experiencing similar difficulties.

In response, Europcar is urging motorists to think about the option of hiring a suitable car instead of relying on driving their own vehicle, for extra peace of mind.

Ken McCall, the managing director of Europcar UK Group, a company offering car hire services in Europe, said, ‘Driving conditions are more challenging during colder weather, with the risk of snow, fog and ice. That’s why it’s more important than ever to be driving a car in which you have confidence.

We are, therefore, encouraging people doing longer journeys over the winter months to think about car hire from Europcar. It offers travellers the assurance that they are in a reliable vehicle that has been fully maintained with all essential items, such as tyres, regularly checked. Plus Europcar vehicles are fully covered by 24 hour roadside assistance, at no extra cost.’

Car hire companies are offering vehicles that are de-iced and doubly checked for safety standards, with qualified staff members offering tips to handle a rented vehicle in difficult driving conditions for visitors to the UK.

Ken McCall says, ‘Our goal at Europcar is to give motorists the very best quality vehicles, ensuring they can drive confidently and safely in any weather. We are, therefore, well prepared for the next few weeks with good availability of vehicles right across the country.’

Sixt Opens Rental Outlet at London Gatwick Airport

Sixt, a European car rental company, has expanded its services in the UK by launching an outlet at London Gatwick Airport.

The company claims to be able to offer an exclusive portfolio of rental cars to its customers arriving at Gatwick, with rental models ranging from BMW, Opel, Volkswagen, Ford and Toyota to Audi Aston Martin, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Mercedes, in all sizes, including small and mid-size cars, SUVs, premium vehicles, and minibuses.

London Gatwick offers direct access from the terminal to the car hire collection and drop-off points, avoiding the need for the shuttle bus that caters for around 92,650 business travellers and holidaymakers who pass through the airport every day.

Paul McLoughlin, the managing director for Sixt Rent A Car, UK, said, ‘Sixt are thrilled to be moving into Gatwick Airport. It’s an important milestone in our ongoing growth across the UK. Our goal is to make it as simple as possible for businesses and holiday makers to have access to a range of high quality, well specified vehicles backed by unparalleled service at affordable prices. We look forward to working with the team at Gatwick and providing their passengers with the ultimate mobility solution.’

Julia Gregory, the head of surface transport at London Gatwick Airport, said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Sixt to Gatwick. Sixt is well known for its innovative approach to customer service so we look forward to working closely with them to deliver an even better experience for our passengers.

As one of the few airports to offer direct access from the terminal to car rental pickup points, our aim is to double car rental usage and offer our passengers even more choice.’

Car rental companies step in to ease Christmas travel woes

For those travellers concerned with holiday travel problems in the UK during the Christmas period, reassurances are being offered by the UK’s car rental services, which are available to bridge the gap left by scheduled maintenance work on the rail service, and strike action called by ASLEF, the London Underground drivers’ union.

Car rental brokers, Holiday Autos, said, ‘We understand how expensive travel can be. Whether for work or leisure, transport is becoming one of the most expensive outgoings in many households so the government’s recent u-turn on an increase in fuel prices is a welcome one.

However, the Christmas and New Year holidays are the one time of year when friends and family should be able to get together and we are committed to finding drivers the best deals to make sure that doing that doesn’t break the bank.’

Previously, Heathrow Express, an express train service from London Heathrow Airport to London Paddington station, had stated on its website that, ‘Due to essential Crossrail improvement works, Heathrow Express will not be running any services between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport on December 25 and 26.

Our inter terminal transfer service between Heathrow Terminal 4 and Terminals 1 & 3 will continue to run in line with the planned timetable. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.’

With regard to its strike action on Boxing Day, ASLEF commented, ‘The union is being blamed for taking industrial action on London’s tube network on Boxing Day. The real fault lies with a management that has failed both us and the public.’

The car rental companies have urged their customers to book early to avoid being disappointed.

British Chambers Of Commerce Cuts Deal with Hertz for Corporate Travellers

Members of British Chambers of Commerce, the national body for 52 accredited Chambers of Commerce in the UK, will now be able to avail of exclusive membership discounts when renting out cars from Hertz UK, the car rental company. This would make corporate travel easier for members in the UK, with tailor-made rental offers and savings being offered to business travellers.

The membership benefits include a special 35% members discount on long-term rentals of cars and vans, as well as fixed and preferential rates. The companies, which are part of the Chambers of Commerce, will also be able to avail of dedicated account managers for their corporate accounts; and customised offers for small to medium sized businesses for a six month promotional period.

The benefits also take into account complimentary delivery and collection; a 24 hour recovery and breakdown support; around 2,000 complimentary miles per month; and complimentary monthly valet service. Customers will also be qualifying for reward points on car rentals which may be redeemed later.

Karina Knudsen, the head of business development at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: ‘We are pleased to be launching new exclusive discounted services from Hertz which will give Chambers’ members a helping hand during these difficult economic times.’

Neil Cunningham, the general manager for Hertz UK and Europe, said, ‘We are delighted to partner with the British Chambers of Commerce to support owners of small to medium sized businesses. We share the Chambers’ commitment to providing companies with practical support and access to new ideas and innovations – especially at a time when managing costs and ensuring flexibility are more important than ever.’

Some of the participating Chambers of Commerce are: Suffolk, Surrey, Ayrshire, Birmingham, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Enterprise Launches Operations in Portugal

Car rental company, Enterprise, is launching its operations for the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand in Portugal, through a franchise.

The company has appointed Guerin Car Rental Solutions as its franchise partner in Portugal, increasing its operations in Europe to six countries, including the UK, Germany, Ireland, France and Spain.

Peter A Smith, the vice president of global franchising for the company, said, ‘While this may be the first franchising agreement for the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand, it won’t be the last. In fact, we plan to continue this same growth strategy throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

We’re careful to choose strong, stable domestic businesses as our international franchise partners, and Guerin certainly meets that standard as a well-respected travel industry leader in Portugal’

Jim Burrell, the senior vice president for Europe, said, ‘We are committed to developing a comprehensive network of rental car businesses across Europe and beyond.

Since arriving in Europe in 1994, Enterprise has developed a strong brand presence through our corporately owned locations across the UK, Germany and Ireland. But our strategy is to be where our customers need us. Today this brings us to France and Spain with a well-established network of 350 branches and an outstanding and committed team of people.

From here we will quickly look to establish businesses in other markets as our customers’ needs extend beyond our current operations. We will seek to do this in the way that best suits the needs of each market, through affiliates, franchisees and other wholly owned operations’

Enterprise is also re-branding its newly acquired Citer and Atesa operations in France and Spain. The re-branding will add 350 new locations to the company’s car hire network. Today, the European Enterprise Rent-A-Car network operates more than 100,000 vehicles.

Courtesy Rent-A-Car offers Barbados adventure

Barbados based car rental firm, Courtesy Rent-A-Car, has announced a new programme for adventure travel fans.

The firm has announced that it is now offering a new U-Drive Adventure Holidays and Adventure Travel Tours programme. This programme offers special services to help the adventure tourist while on a visit to the Barbados. A UNESCO World heritage site, the Caribbean island offers adventure pastimes, including aerial treks, hikes, kite-surfing, world class surfing, off road safaris, submarine excursions, scuba diving and so on.

The car-rental company is now promoting its ‘U-Drive Adventures’ programme, which offers guests free passes to some of the most popular activities on the island. Once a car is hired from the company under the programme, the firm takes the responsibility for enhancing the adventure content of the tour by arranging activities on behalf of the client. Special packages, such as free access to the zip line adventure can be arranged for the guest.

Ian Proverbs, manager of Courtesy Rent-A-Car, said, ‘For the more adventurous we offer free passes to attractions like the aerial zip line, where our clients can enjoy a completely different perspective flying between the mahogany trees.’

If the zip wire sounds daunting, tourists can get a free pass to less-daunting, but equally popular experiences, such as the Concorde Experience, where guests enjoy a simulated flight and learn about supersonic travel. The services are provided on a grounded Concorde plane that was retired in Barbados.

Courtesy Rent-A-Car Barbados, which has been in business for 35 years, claims to have a broad selection of cars from budget to luxury sedans and 4×4 jeeps. It is also the latest company to join AXSES’ SocialIndexEngine (SIE) Marketing, a tourism promotion campaign.