CHOOSE THE RIGHT COMPETITORS NOT BASED ON KNOWLEDGE BUT ON YOUR OWN METRICS.
Tracking a competitor is more than simply collecting the rates of all your competitors located in the same market. Over the past 10-year development of the electronic distribution, intermediaries (ie Brokers) became important operators to be tracked and configured in the rate shop. Like in the hotel industry, it is essential to keep an eye on your rate parity through all the distribution channels.
In addition to intermediaries and premium car rental suppliers, do not forget local franchisees and independent brands as well!
For car rental operators, it is important to split premium brands (Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Sixt, etc), that can directly operate or franchise their short term rental activity around the world, with local and independent suppliers (ie Adobe in Costa Rica, EZi in New Zealand, Localiza in Brazil, see note 1). This distinction is important as it will impact the volume of shops and thus the cost of the rate survey. Indeed, data canvassing experts like Rate Gain or QL2 already provide a list of sites in which you can pick up the competitors to monitor. For non-existing brands and sites, an ad-hoc configuration will be quoted and added on top of the total queries.
But how the rates displayed are built on all these sites? Some operators broadcast full inclusive prices (mileage, basic insurance) while others show more complex products that seem to be cheaper. In practice, these prices are “naked” and all options have to be added. In Spain, some car rental suppliers are showing a 7-day rental at 20 or 10$ and recently, a 0€-weekly rate was proposed. For sure, absolutely no options were included and all supplements to be charged at the counter upon departure – see note 2. So the rate shopper has to collect and split all these elements correctly.
Last but not least, the pricing of your competitors may vary from the Point of Sales. Even though the European Community warned the premium brands not to discriminate a client based on his European geographical origin, it is a matter of fact that most of the international prices vary from the source of the customer. So, from which source should the canvassing be configured? Internal analysis of your client's origins can be a great help. However, it is not always reliable enough as some brokers send the reservations from their base camp (UK, Ireland, Germany) while a customer has booked it from its home country (French .fr or German .de site). To fine-tune the real origin of the drivers, it might be better to analyze the driving license’s country extracted from your rental agreement database. To get a wider vision of not only your drivers but also your country visitor origins, you can use the analytical tool provided by Forwardkeys that compiles all airline GDS data to understand better the behavior and the origin of the visitors in your country.
Note 1: there should not have any misunderstanding comparing a small player and an independent supplier. Localiza in Brazil is an independent brand operating more than 100 000 vehicles!
Note 2 – Tip Rateshaker: with its web app Rateshaker-rate shop analyzer, WeYield has developed an advanced rate module that enables the analyst to add an option on top of a canvassed price to “build” the real market price (ie: +25€ airport tax) or remove a commission percentage to get a “net price” (ie: -15% average commission to be deducted from the retail price). Therefore, the price displayed on the graph will match exactly what the analyst wants.