Enterprise ranks highest in rental car satisfaction study

While satisfaction is higher among business travellers than leisure, satisfaction among “bleisure” travellers is the highest

November 14, 2016
Purchasing B2B

COSTA MESA, Calif—Travellers who rent a car and then combine business and leisure are by far the most satisfied with their rental car experience, according to the J.D. Power 2016 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study.

The study finds that while overall satisfaction is higher among business travellers than among leisure travellers (with satisfaction index scores of 806 versus 798 on a 1,000-point scale, respectively), satisfaction among “bleisure” travellers (836)—those whose travel is a combination of business and leisure—is the highest among the three groups.

The data show this practice to be more pronounced among Gen Y renters (those born from 1977-1994), who have a growing presence in the rental car market. Cost and fees satisfaction among bleisure car renters is 43 points higher than among exclusive business renters and 49 points higher than among exclusive leisure renters.

“With such a big bump in satisfaction among ‘bleisure’ renters, it’s certainly worthwhile for rental car companies to take a closer look at ways to attract and accommodate these travelers, perhaps by providing an easy way to separate charges for the business days of the rental from the leisure days, making for easier expense reporting,” said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “Appealing to bleisure travelers may help differentiate them from competitors, but it could also foster the growth amongst a new base of loyal customers.”

The study, now in its 21st year, measures overall customer satisfaction with rental cars at airport locations by examining six factors (listed in order of importance): cost and fees; pick-up process; return process; rental car; shuttle bus/van; and reservation process.

Overall rental car satisfaction averages 804 index points, a 6-point improvement from 2015. All of the ranked brands post at least some improvement in the cost and fees factor, continuing a dramatic upward trend over the past two years.

Rental Car Satisfaction Rankings
For a third consecutive year, Enterprise ranks highest in satisfaction among rental car companies, achieving an overall satisfaction index score of 830. Enterprise performs particularly well in all six study factors. Enterprise is followed in the rankings by National (813), Alamo (809) and Hertz (804).

Other Key Findings
The growing trend to consolidate rental car facilities to a single site does not appear to be impacting the rental car experience. The study finds that 32 percent of customers rented from a consolidated facility. Although brands have the opportunity to differentiate their service through their own branded facilities, customer satisfaction with their rental car experience is approximately the same for a consolidated site as it is for a branded site. However, shuttle bus/van satisfaction among renters who picked up from a consolidated site is 51 points higher than among those renting from a brand-operated site.

The percentage of reported problems in the 2016 study is 21 percent, a substantial increase from just 14 percent in 2015. However, this high incidence is driven by many of the unranked brands included in the study. Among customers who experienced a problem, the highest increase in specific reported issues is related to optional equipment (e.g., GPS/navigation, satellite radio, and toll pass), in which the problem incidence increases to 16 percent this year from 10 percent in 2015.

The 2016 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study is based on responses gathered between September 2015 through August 2016 from more than 11,300 business and leisure travelers who rented a vehicle at an airport location from August 2015 through August 2016.