Customer satisfaction with car rental companies saw a significant increase since the COVID lockdowns, according to new research by J.D. Power.
The survey of 8,632 travelers throughout the year shows that customer satisfaction increased 14- and 13-points overall from the years 2022 and 2021, respectively.
In an interview with TravelAwaits, Michael Taylor, managing director of travel, hospitality and retail at J.D. Power, explained that the increase was largely due to prices finally leveling off.
“Satisfaction went up dramatically only because prices stopped increasing like crazy,” Taylor said, adding that in the past two years, prices increased by 20% and 40% whereas they only went up a little bit this year.
While Enterprise brands — Enterprise, National, and Alamo — all ranked in the top three spots, Taylor explained that there’s a short distance between the first and last spot.
According to the data, there was a 58-point difference between first place, Enterprise, and last place, Thrifty, but they all still scored more than 800 points on a 1,000-point scale. Comparatively, as Taylor pointed out, the scores of airline companies can differ by hundreds of points.
“That’s what kind of gets lost in these rankings because people look at whose number one and whose number eight,” Taylor said, adding that higher scores correlate with higher value, but not necessarily the cheapest experience.
“It means I’m going to pay X amount of dollars and I’m going to expect a certain amount of service, a certain type of car, a certain cleanliness level, and the ability to get in and out of the airport fairly quickly,” he said.
Although things look good for the car rental industry right now, Taylor said the future may not be as bright. With the ongoing United Auto Workers strike, companies may run into inventory problems.
“There will be a lot of really heavy financial decisions being made” about car rental companies buying new vehicles and selling old ones, which will ultimately affect rental rates, Taylor said. “I don’t think anyone has a handle on it for 2024.”