Driving for Speed

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is infamous as the heaviest travel day of the year, and rental car agencies are steeling themselves for the wave of demand that'll strike with Waikiki force. The IT they've come to rely on to deal with the everyday waves should help them out.

The rental car business is extremely competitive, and being blunt, all companies deal in the same product. Customers care most about speed of rental. Rickie Hall, CIO at ANC Rental Corp. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., says speed and the ease of the process are the primary driver of customer satisfaction. "Alamo has the self-service kiosk, which can be used as an alternative to the counter. We have a goal of 60 seconds or less to process a self-service transaction."

To stay in the race, all agencies need to accelerate, not their cars, but how they manage their fleets and service their customers. So industry players are turning to big servers to help them give good service. For example, Budget Group in Daytona Beach, Fla., has installed two IBM RS/6000 S80 servers and the IBM Shark Enterprise Storage Server to get a better grasp of how many cars are available and when they are due back, which makes customers happy, or at least helps keep them from getting psychotically grumpy. Forecast reporting times have dropped from 100 minutes for generating a 60-day report to less than eight minutes for an even more in-depth, 90-day analysis. That allows Budget to analyze car rental needs and revenue rates at major airports with supply-and-demand economics faster and in more detail.

This story, "Driving for Speed" was originally published by CIO.

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