At the recent 2018 Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) convention, Enterprise Holdings Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Christine Taylor participated in a center-stage panel discussion to help answer the question, “Is Bigger Better? The Impact of Industry Consolidation On Business Travel.”
The consensus of the panelists – which also included Best Western Hotels & Resorts President and CEO David Kong as well as Egencia President Rob Greyber – was: It depends.
Moderated by Guy Langford, vice chairman and U.S. transportation, hospitality and services leader at Deloitte & Touche, the panel discussion focused on how growth and scale can bring many strategic advantages – such as building brand awareness and preference – but also can create new challenges.
As an example, Taylor pointed to her family-owned company’s operational and financial growth during the past 61 years. Enterprise Holdings – which owns the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands – was founded by her grandfather in 1957 with only seven vehicles.
Today, it is the world’s largest car rental provider, with a fleet of 2 million vehicles and an integrated global network of more than 10,000 neighborhood and airport locations in more than 90 countries. In addition, the annual revenues of Enterprise Holdings and its affiliate, Enterprise Fleet Management, rank near the top of the global travel industry, ahead of many airlines and most cruise lines, hotels, tour operators and online travel agencies.
Growth & Acquisitions
“All of that organic growth – along with a very large acquisition in there – gives us access to global and diverse customers,” Taylor said.
Enterprise Holdings’ largest acquisition to date was completed in 2007, when the company significantly increased its airport presence by purchasing the National and Alamo brands. This remarkably successful acquisition – and the strategic, thoughtful integration process that followed – was highlighted in the Harvard Business Review, “Enterprise’s Leader on How Integrating an Acquisition Transformed His Business.”
“That diverse customer base gives us the foundation to then grow,” Taylor stated. However, she also stressed, there are opportunities and challenges that arise from such growth: “Our customers push us to innovate every single day.”
As a result, customer service, technology and innovation were top of mind when Enterprise Holdings announced during this year’s annual GBTA convention that it was partnering with Deem, a leading mobile and cloud software technology provider. Using Deem’s Work Fource platform and application, business travelers to China can now book the National Car Rental brand’s new “National Car and Driver” service either directly or through their travel management partner.
The company also made another announcement during the convention: the launch of a newly designed National website, which provides a powerful and innovative platform designed to be even more mobile-friendly and accessible for “road warriors” and other frequent travelers. National’s technology platform – which also includes the brand’s recently upgraded mobile app – now gives business travelers even greater functionality and a more seamless rental experience.
In fact, when it comes to technology, Taylor emphasized that Enterprise Holdings doesn’t ever just “take a leap of faith.” Instead, she noted, when customers communicate what they want, the direction becomes very clear. “Whenever we do anything – whether it’s technology or a new business model – we have to measure the customer service impact,” Taylor explained.
That same customer-centric approach applies to the company’s strategy for investments and acquisitions. Since 2011, Enterprise Holdings has made numerous acquisitions, totaling over $2 billion and all strategically supporting its core businesses. The company also has been executing on a corporate venture capital strategy by investing in emerging companies with technologies, business models and service offerings that support customer needs and demands.
Making customer service a constant focal point has positioned Enterprise Holdings as a long-term industry leader in mobility and technology – regardless of whether vehicles are rented by the hour, day, week or longer. For instance, current industry-leading technology initiatives include:
• Helping businesses run their truck fleets more efficiently and meet new federal operating standards with Enterprise Telematics.
• Participating in a New York City carsharing program that dedicates 309 parking spots in more than a dozen neighborhoods in four boroughs.
• Partnering with a company that is developing autonomous automotive options for communities across North America.
• Providing mobile tablet technology that digitizes rental transactions, eliminates administrative bottlenecks at rental counters and quickly delivers the kind of onsite information and details that customers are looking for.