Car rentals have become an integral part of holiday travel. Cab rental giants like Enterprise, Hertz, and Zoomcar have revolutionized the entire scenario by providing affordable, convenient, and quick transport systems.
Analysing the websites of some of the most popular car rental companies from across the world, we observe that each has some defining structure that becomes a characteristic of that particular company. While one has an easy date-picker system for quick bookings, the other has featured plans for different vehicle types; yet another has flexible drop-off options.
You get the idea.
This leads to the question; what does a powerful car rental website entail? Well, let’s check out!
Top 14 Features of a Kickass Cab Rental Website
#1 Easy Bookings
This is, obviously, the most basic and the most important of the core requirements. The booking system is the heart and soul of the car rental website; that it should have a user-friendly booking interface is a given. This includes a clear descriptions of various car types available as per the number of people, separate pricing plans for members, special offers, the corresponding fare, easy date, time, and location picking options, and an accessible call to action.
If a user needs to create an account before booking the cab, the registration forms should be short and to the point; long-winded forms are a big no-no. One feature that serves car rental sites is allowing bookings in real time as well as for advanced time periods. Depicting the availability of the various cars on a monthly interface can help users select their preferences from the pool and reserve dates easily.
The bottom line is, the interface should be crisp and concise so that there is no scope for misunderstandings and booking a cab becomes possible in a quick and painless manner.
#2 Flexible Plans
Maintaining flexible plans for bookings, such as one-way trips, local and long-distance packages helps the customers choose one according to their convenience. Providing redundant extras is an exercise in futility, one for which the customer will not be ready to pay.
Another option is to customize fare plans for the holiday season and offer various discounts and coupons that the customers can cash-in later. Though this is more useful for long-distance travellers, fares can be reduced for premium members around the holidays too.
#3 Mobile Ready
The maximum percentage of rental car users books cars over mobile phones, generally via mobile apps available for each company. This makes it imperative for rental websites to be responsive, to cater successfully to the entire potential market.
Integrating a mobile app is even better, as customers then do not need to keep logging in to their browsers to access the website. Nevertheless, making the website responsive makes it compatible across all screen sizes, thus facilitating smooth bookings at home and on the go!
#4 Recommendations and User Feedback
Adding a personal touch over and above the dry, factual content of the available cars and fares can be done using recommendations. Set up templates and featured displays for first-time and recurring users that highlight recommended travel booking plans. This can be generalized for newbies based on their requirements, such as long distance journeys, local attractions, and so on.
For frequent users, data can be compiled from their previous booking preferences and a plan suggested accordingly. This helps users narrow down their choices easily, cutting through the tedious process of choosing each element of the reservation one after another and generates a feeling of confidence in the company, as the website helps them avail of the best possible options, thereby boosting the chances of a confirmed hire.
The other factor that can promote conversion rates is the User Feedback. People have a tendency to research the cars they are hiring, especially if it is for an extended period of time. It is, hence, a good idea to display genuine user reviews on the website, attesting to the quality of the company’s service and vehicles, which assures your potential clients of its authenticity.
#5 Quick and Secure Payments
The website needs integrated, secure payment gateways that let users complete transactions quickly, in a hassle-free manner. For aggregator models, it is possible to offer optional cash collections, where the user pays the cab driver directly upon fulfilment of the journey; the company takes its cut as part of the commission from the driver.
Given the amount of online criminal activity prevalent today, maintaining the most stringent security standards is obligatory for the integrated payment gateways. It helps to display PCI Compliance certifications and the other quality assurance checks that prove your genuineness, to set the customers’ mind at ease and assure them that they are not being swindled.
The local market for car rentals is huge. Cabs are used by professionals worldwide because of their comfort and easy availability. As a result, localizing the website, as per the area of operation, goes a long way in facilitating quicker bookings. Localization helps people parse the information on your website more easily, which in turn drives the conversion rate. Additionally, if you are a service provider catering to a specific area, it gives you an edge over the competitors in terms of knowledge of routes and travel time.
#7 Flexible Quotation System
Apart from the fixed rates for regular routes, you can maintain a quotation system for customized plans on your website. The customer can then submit his requirements and request for a quotation for the same. At your end, you can calculate estimated costs and send a proposal accordingly. Keeping plans negotiable lets you and the customer reach a mutually satisfactory agreement which results into a better user experience and encourages recurring visits.
You can also add packages with extras such as DVD players, baby seats, and more, charging separately for the same!
#8 Social Media Integration
The social media sites are one of the most popular means of sharing experiences for users; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are literally global marketing platforms. Taking advantage of this, you can integrate your website with these social networking sites, which lets the users post their opinions here.
Going one step ahead, you can even let users rent cars directly from their Facebook/Google+ accounts, thereby shortening the registration process. A lot of the major car rentals have Google Calendar account integrations, which lets users book car picking dates directly from the Calendar. In such cases, the car availability will have to be updated regularly on the Google Calendar platform, so as to avoid cross-overs and multiple bookings.
#9 Communication and Updates
As a part of the service industry, ensuring regular communication and vehicle updates on the car rental website is necessary. Customers appreciate being kept in the loop from the moment they book the cab to the final drop-off. Auto-responders can be set up to this end that inform users about the status of their car and provide tracking options for the same. Alternatively, personalized emails can also be sent, as and when necessary.
Regular updates are useful from the administrator’s point of view too, as you have the complete record of the whereabouts of the car, making organization easier.
#10 The FAQ section
Regardless of how clear your website is, your customers are bound to have some queries. This is where a FAQ section comes in handy. Addressing all the common queries that might arise from the customer’s point of view and providing satisfactory answers to the same clears up confusion, if any. Vague or misleading answers should be avoided here. An additional option is to provide a quick response system which lets users submit a query and receive a response in a short time frame.
These are some of the features a car rental website requires, from the consumer’s or user’s point of view. The administration side of the website needs to be equally robust to handle the logistics and service requirements of the website. Here are a few of the back-end specifications that need to be taken care of, when you set up a car reservation website.
#11 User Role Management
Setting up user roles for membership levels helps keep the user pipeline in order and control all administrative functions easily. Specific capabilities can be assigned to each of the user roles that provides for selective distribution of benefits among the hierarchy.
#12 Grouping and Tracking
Keeping track of the inventory of cars is necessary to ensure that the availabilities are updated on the bookings calendar accordingly. Real-time inventory updates help prevent overlapping of bookings and by extension, irritated customers! This makes it a strong core tool while creating a car rental website.
#13 Member Profiles
Generating user profiles for frequent users creates a customer database that can be accessed whenever the user is next filling a form or adding information, to auto-fill the required fields. Not only does this the users from having to fill in the same fields over and over, it also reduces overall process completion time and increases conversion rates.
#14 Website Analytics
Website analytics is one of the most important parts of the car rental website maintenance. A comprehensive analysis of the good, the bad, and the ugly features of your website is tremendously helpful in understanding what areas of the site you need to work on. Regular site reports help keep track of how well the business is doing and hence prioritize the aspects towards which developmental energies should be devoted. Several website analysis systems such as Google Analytics, Crazy Egg, KissMetrics, Optimizely, etc. analyse the website and provide a brutally honest picture of how well (or not so well) the website is doing, thereby driving the website towards perfection.
A lot of car rental companies focus more on mobile apps and quick-fix solutions, with limited features on their core website, neglecting the nuances. Many others opt for car rental softwares that provide a minimalistic, barely functioning website which crashes under extreme server loads and has abysmal loading times. These methods are good for temporary results but can bog down the business horribly in the long term.
However, if you wish to build a truly successful car rental business, investing the time and effort in creating a beautiful website from the ground-up, is worth it! There are some great CMS platforms like WordPress.org, Joomla, Drupal, etc. that help you design and build websites, incorporating tons of features along the way, with ease. And if that is not your cup of tea, you can always opt for professional help in website development.
A well-designed website which highlights the company features, provides easy, accessible bookings, has genuine credentials, and satisfies client requirements has an immediate edge over the competitors.
We’ve listed the features we think are vital. What other requirements would you suggest for a car rental website? Leave a suggestion in the comments section below!