Meetings

Forget Rental Cars: Business Travelers Are Choosing Taxis

Due to rising rental car prices in recent years, many frequent business travelers are saving money by hailing a cab instead.

Your attendees just got off the plane. How are they getting to the conference?

While rental cars may have been the answer in prior years, many business travelers are increasingly moving in the direction of taxis, as rental cars are increasingly proving costly—especially for frequent movers and shakers. More details:

The rising costs: While rental cars vary greatly in price depending on area, the average cost has nonetheless hopped up considerably. Noted car-rental consultant Neil Abrams told USA Today that his index saw a jump in average prices from $58.42 in the third week of January 2012 to $65.08 at the same time this year. Rental companies are aware of the issue, too. “There are numerous examples of taxes that get added to the cost of a rental car … that are not really related to transportation,” Enterprise Holdings’ Ned Maniscalco told the newspaper. “It’s an ongoing issue and one we’re doing our best to make our customers’ voices heard on.”

What’s causing the increase? Part of the reason that rental cars have gotten unwieldy for some travelers are the fees, which can drive the price up significantly, especially at airports. “It’s reached a point where the add-on fees, particularly when you’re renting at an airport location, (are) outrageous,” executive coach Bill Catlette told the newspaper. “You turn a rental car in and look at the bill and you’ve got 25% or 30% in fees on there … It’s like looking at your phone bill.” Taking a cab for a small handful of trips to and from the airport can be far cheaper for the frequent traveler.

Avoid the add-ons: If you’re still looking to rent a car while attending your next meeting, what’s the best option? According to Kiplinger’s Jessica L. Anderson, you just want to say no to most of what a rental car company is offering—whether that’s prepaid gas, the collison damage waiver, or a GPS unit. All of that stuff can add to the cost significantly, and is usually optional, even if the person at the counter makes it sound otherwise. Other ideas: Your smartphone might be a good replacement for some of the extra services a rental car company offers, such as a GPS, and, if possible, it helps to book package deals (e.g., hotel and rental car) instead of the rental car individually.

Have you found yourself relying on public transit—or taxis—over the trusty rental car? Tell us in the comments about your experience, as well as any tips you have for saving a couple of bucks.

(iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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