As car rental market gets more organised in India, demand for Luxury car rentals is on the rise and Avis India is doubling its revenue every three years. We learn more about the dynamic market in an interview with Mr Sunil Gupta, CEO, Avis India.
How is the growth for Luxury rent-a-car in India? What is Avis’s market share and at what rate is it growing?
Demand for Luxury cars in India is increasing and so is the case with Luxury Car Rentals. With rise in income levels and exposure through increased International travel, people are willing to try out new cars through car rentals to gain experience. At Avis India, our growth has been over 30% every year for the past 3-4 years and we continue to maintain our track record of doubling revenue every 3 years. This is twice as fast as the growth of the market as a whole.
What is your current fleet size? What brands of cars are available and in which cities?
Avis India has a fleet of more than 2500 premium cars across the country. Our network extends across 50 conveniently located rental stations in 19 cities including Agra, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, New Delhi, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, NOIDA, Pune, Rishikesh, Shimla, Udaipur, and Vadodara.
Our range of premium cars includes BMW 5 & BMW 7 Series, Audi 8, Mercedes S& E Class, Ford Endeavour, as well as Toyota Atis, Innova and Etios.
Has the recent influx of different fleet taxis affected your business?
We do not see fleet taxis as competition. They cater to a different market segment of point-to-point taxi services and they are in competition with radio taxis, app aggregators and black-and-yellow taxis.
However, the trend of empowering the car rental users through deployment of technology on his or her personal handheld device is here to stay, as demonstrated by app aggregators’ like Uber and Ola. All those players who stay in step with this trend will succeed. Since organized players have a greater capability to provide a high quality, reliable and uniform service across multiple locations and have the resources to deploy in technology up-gradation, car rental market is bound to get more and more organized.
What is your USP?
Avis India has many firsts to its credit and our emphasis on blending global systems with an understanding of local needs has enabled us to achieve a leadership position in India. We are present in India since 1998 and have a fair understanding of the market. That coupled with our technological innovations which are industry firsts; enable us to lead market growth.
Avis India’s continuous investment in technology-driven processes and systems enables us to provide an unmatched experience.We have already made the user’s entire interaction with Avis paperless and digital.
What new services have you introduced through Avis?
In the near future, we plan to empower the user even more by providing a more enhanced digital experience on his personal mobile phone.
Differentiators like high quality of our chauffeurs, two-phase verification process, cloud-based central chauffeur registry and GPS enabled hand-held devices that render a continuous tracking of every car provide a high sense of safety to our users. Avis has also made significant hardware enhancements and specific process interventions geared towards the women passengers.
In addition to the GPS on the e-RA device, all Avis cars are fitted with another independent GPS device in the car, thus providing a built-in redundancy to the system. As part of the standard service, all hand-held devices are provided with an easily accessible SOS button. There is another physical panic button in each car which the guest can press in case the need arises. Pressing the SOS button or the panic button triggers an immediate response from our 24X7 Avis Secure Desk.
The Avis Secure Desk consists of a team of executives working 24×7 exclusively dedicated to not only respond to the SOS or panic button but also track the use of an Avis car by any lady traveler. As per the standard protocol, the Avis Secure Team calls each lady travelers twice during each rental, first at the start and then at the end, to check if the traveler has reached her destination safely and if she was inconvenienced in any way.
What are your challenges?
Most of the market in India is unorganized. If the infrastructure is improved then the market is quite extensive.
How is the Government support for the segment?
The Government support can be seen through improved road infrastructure, use of modern technology in the form of smart cards for automatic toll payments and improved signage.
Any new marketing plans for India?
We have planned the following new marketing campaigns:
Unlock The World: AVIS India is helping people Unlock The World of travel and adventure. With this campaign we are going to focus on travel to various destinations in India, promoting both our Self drive and Chauffeur drive services.
Unlock The World is focused on Social Media wherein we run a contest for people on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook , asking people to talk about their favorite destination and why would they want to travel there using hashtag #UnlocktheWorld.
AVIS Bowlathon: AVIS Bowlathon is an activity comprising of AVIS Lease customers for a fun filled weekend activity. AVIS Bowlathon will be conducted in 6 Metro cities namely Delhi NCR, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. 4 Top scorers from each region will get a chance to participate in the Grand Finale of AVIS Bowlathon, which will happen in Delhi.
InstaDRIVE: InstaDRIVE or Instagram on the Drive, is one of its first kind of an Instagram campaign wherein AVIS is facilitating Instagram enthusiasts to travel in its luxury chauffeur driven cars around a city capturing and uploading pictures on Instagram using #InstaDRIVE and #UnlockTheWorld.
Interviewed by Anand & Madhura Katti