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Olympia London - 26-27 February 2020
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel - March 11, 2020
Convene - 730 3rd Avenue, New York City - March 23,
Hertz's Kathryn Marinello talks:
Now completing her third year as CEO of Hertz Global Holdings, Kathryn Marinello has overseen a stretch of growing revenues and profits after some financially tough years for the car rental supplier. She recently spoke with BTN transportation editor Michael B. Baker about the drivers of the turnaround and the company's investment strategy to win corporate marketshare.
BTN: What has been your turnaround strategy?
Marinello: Our strategy has been that if you invest in and take care of your employees, both in the tools that you put in their hands as well as how you value them, they generally provide great service to your customers. Your customers then vote with their feet. We've had nine straight quarters of [year-over-year] topline growth since I've been here and eight straight quarters of profitable growth. Generally speaking, when you focus on the customer and the employees, the formula does end up driving profits as well as growth and customer satisfaction. We feel excited and great about winning the J.D. Power award for being the best rental car company. When you get confirmation from external sources, it's the ultimate satisfaction for our leadership team and the employees here.
BTN: What specific investments have targeted the corporate travel market?
Marinello: We've really been a leader in that area. You can go right to the car with Ultimate Choice and bypass the counter. We have the best fleet out there, and for the frequent traveler, we've made it the quickest, most seamless experience with introducing not just Ultimate Choice but our Clear partnership. You can leverage the Clear partnership and not only bypass the counter but then don't have to stop at the gate and can use your Clear capabilities to get through the gate very quickly.
BTN: What specific technology investments have you been making?
Marinello: We're looking not just at the tools we put in our customers' hands. We've made significant investments in our app as well as our website. But we're also investing in how well we manage the fleet. One of the real strategic advantages we have is that we also have a corporate fleet management company in Donlen Corp., and we've been leveraging the tools, maintenance and all the capabilities they have, particularly around connected car, to do a better, more effective, efficient job of managing the cars we have. We're investing not just in the direct-to-consumer tools but in the fleet-management tools, the connected cars, our ability to quickly manage maintenance—all of these things drive greater productivity, and when your costs are lowered and the process is better, you are delivering a more customer-satisfying experience as well as freeing up funds to continue to invest in technology.
BTN: What will be your priorities in the new year?
Marinello: We have launched our underlying technology to manage our fleet, and a new fleet management and accounting system. In addition, we're looking to launch by year-end a new reservation and rental system in some limited locates. We've launched a new app and website. We've come up with some great capabilities with our Dollar and Thrifty brands. We'll continue to invest in the technology to make the customer experience and the employee tools the best out there.
BTN: What's your demand outlook?
Marinello: When we look at the economy and macroeconomics, all signs are pretty positive. It's a very robust consumer environment right now, which translates for us to a good environment to work in.
BTN: How have you adapted to the rise of the ride-hailing networks?
Marinello: One of the areas we're focusing in on and have built some core competence around is driver services and delivery. There was a lot of noise around [transportation network companies] cannibalizing our business. In reality, it was a very small segment that TNC took over: very short-range, one-day types of trips, which were about 5 percent of our business. We have between 40,000 and 50,000 vehicles on the road now to TNC drivers. It's fast-growing and profitable, and it leverages the residual value of our cars. We're able to drive them longer and get more value for them, and when we sell them, it's a very attractive price to the open market: at 70,000 miles, well-maintained and only two years old.
BTN: What work are you doing with the Dollar and Thrifty brands?
Marinello: As we focus more on a targeting groups in that space, Dollar can really focus on the family and use of the debit card, not building up a lot of debt. Then, with Thrifty, our goal is to focus on a segment where they think they're getting the best buy for their money. They get more for less, so they're not sacrificing quality. They're smart in how they're spending their dollars frugally. We've just launched a commercial for the first time since the brands were acquired. We've been spending a fair amount on driving strength in our brands. Hertz is a 100-year-old iconic brand that represents rental cars. We want to try to build the same focus for our dollar and Thrifty brands with the segments that are most attractive for those brands.
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