[ 60 Seconds ] with Avis

In March of this year, Avis launched Avis First to replace the car rental company’s most frequent renter program, Preferred Select. We recently had an e-mail exchange with Becky Alseth, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Avis Budget Group, parent of Avis.

Can you tell us a little about the differences between the two programs and why the decision was made to introduce Avis First?
Becky Alseth
Our customers indicated that they wanted rewards that directly address their travel needs and include a mix of tangible and experiential rewards. Avis First was designed to allow frequent renters with a faster way to earn rewards. Renters also benefit from the rewards because they can use them for weekend rentals.
The differences between Preferred Select, which is no longer offered, and Avis First are:
Preferred Select
– Invitation at 15 or more qualifying rentals (with an 18-month qualification period)
– Free day upon renewal (every 18 months)
– Airline companion ticket after 31+ rentals (every 18 months)
– Free one-car class upgrades when available
– Members-only offer page (password protected Web site)
– Dedicated reservation line
Avis First
– Invitation at 12 or more qualifying rentals (with a 12-month qualification period)
– Free weekends upon invitation and membership activation and after every three qualifying rentals (eight per calendar year)
– Free one-car class upgrades when available
– Members-only Web site to view rental activity, rewards and special offers
– Dedicated reservation line and customer care
– Ability to by-pass the counter

There seems to be a move by car rental companies toward offering hybrid cars. What are Avis’ plans? What car class category can renters expect to get a Toyota Prius?
Avis has introduced the Toyota Prius as part of its Cool Car Collection reservable by make and model with guaranteed reservation. The Toyota Prius is available in California, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Washington, D.C. at an average daily rental price of approximately $69.95 per day.

You partner with iTunes to offer free music downloads with rentals. Are you the only car rental company who does this? How did the partnership come about and are the downloads popular with renters?
We are the exclusive provider of iTunes in the car rental category. Avis prides itself on providing customers with a stress-free rental experience and making travel enjoyable. Music is a big part of the road trip experience so it was a natural fit/extension. The promotion is very popular with our renters and we have received positive feedback.

Just curious, what car class is rented most often?
The car class rented most often varies because it is comprised of several variables: type of traveler — business or leisure; time of year; location, as well as the changing composition of our fleet.

Why should a frequent business traveler choose Avis over other car rental companies?
Avis offers the busy business traveler everything they need so they can enjoy the ride and have a smooth, stress-free rental experience.
We offer:
– Preferred Service — to expedite their rental experience
– Avis First — an industry-leading rewards program, that rewards Preferred — Service members who rent frequently with free rental incentives that can be enjoyed on their leisure travel.
– Where2 GPS Navigation: Avis’ Where2 GPS system from Garmin offers real-time traffic alerts and provides alternative routes to steer around congestion. It is the state-of-the art navigation system in car rental.
– Avis Connect, the only portable Wi-Fi broadband Internet service that goes anywhere the travelers wants to go, from the airport to the meeting place to the hotel and beyond. It allows a network of travelers who are traveling together to log-on at the same time.
– Electronic toll collection — Avis offers more cars available in more cities than any other company, equipped to enable travelers to skip the lines and breeze through the tolls.
– e-Receipt — lose the paper and make expense reports easy. Right after the customer returns the car, Avis will send a rental receipt to them using the e-mail address on their profile.
– MP3-ready cars — allows customers to play their own digital music through the car’s audio system. Right now, we are handing out MP3 cables to allow customers to connect their devices in our cars while on the road.

Tell us a little about your new chauffer option. Will Avis First members be treated with discounts or other perks when using this option?
Avis recently announced a new premium service called “Avis Chauffeur Drive” through which Avis customers can rent a car and hire a professional driver at the same time. The product of a new alliance between Avis and WeDriveU, Inc., WeDriveU provides fully insured and certified chauffeurs who provide professional driving services to customers using the customer’s vehicle. Avis Chauffeur Drive costs $30 per hour with a three-hour minimum, plus standard rental car charges. The service is available in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. for Avis customers enrolled in Avis Preferred, as well as members of the Avis Chairman’s Club, Avis First and Avis President’s Club programs. The service is available at major airports and within a 60-mile radius of these city centers.
We are not currently offering Avis First members any promotions or offers for Avis Chauffeur Drive.

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