Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Dublin-based CarTrawler Increases Share of Market Worth €38 Billion with Map Technology

Car Rental Firm Increases Share of Market Worth €38 Billion with Map Technology

Dublin-based CarTrawler provides its partners—such as airlines, hotels, and travel retail outlets—with real-time connectivity to online car rental suppliers in locations and at prices that suit their customers. CarTrawler uses Bing Maps to ensure the accuracy of global search results. Since incorporating the technology, the business has made significant headway into a global revenue opportunity worth €38 billion (U.S.$51 billion).
Business Needs
Established in 2005 as a traditional car rental business, CarTrawler continually looks for ways to develop its services and respond to new market opportunities. With the global car rental market worth around €38 billion, the firm decided to focus on this lucrative business opportunity by concentrating exclusively on business-to-business online car rental distribution.
Airport rentals account for 35 per cent of the rental market, and downtown—the industry term for non-airport-based car rentals—represents 47 per cent. But prior to 2011, there wasn’t a consumer-focused online rental solution that displayed the availability and price of cars in downtown locations based on a user’s itinerary. Traditional online solutions were more suited to airport rentals because travellers can identify airport locations and names more easily than unfamiliar downtown addresses.
Bobby Healy, Chief Technology Officer, CarTrawler, says: “We need to stay ahead of our competitors, and our concept was to create a car rental mapping solution. It responded to a customer need and allowed us to tap into the €18 billion revenue opportunity represented by the downtown market.”
Pick-up and drop-off locations are key considerations for rental customers. CarTrawler wanted to use the latest mapping technology to show the proximity of a car rental agency to their preferred pick-up and drop-off locations—such as a business, hotel, or tourist attraction—along with real-time pricing, availability, and booking details. Healy says: “By using maps, we could identify rental depots in thousands of cities, increasing choice for customers and providing more options for cross selling and service expansion.”
With this business concept in hand, CarTrawler began assessing the advantages and disadvantages of various mapping technologies. To ensure the business could serve a global market—and differentiate itself through highly accurate, relevant search results—local language tools and support were essential.
CarTrawler assessed current mapping technology from major vendors, but chose Bing Maps because it had the right toolset to create its unique solution. “Bing Maps had the most compelling feature set by far. We’re a global business, and no other provider has the support for local language and localisation that Bing Maps has,” says Healy.
With the Bing Maps Locations API and Bing Maps SOAP Services, for example, the team created functionality making it possible for users to find the depot closest to their location. Bing Maps SOAP Services is used to integrate location data, such as the distance from a hotel or postcode, to a car depot. “The online supporting documentation for Bing Maps development is the best we’ve seen for a mapping platform. It’s easy to follow and useful, which was another factor that influenced our decision to use Bing Maps,” says Healy.
To check availability and pricing of cars, a user enters a city name or a postcode and a pick-up and drop-off time. CarTrawler then presents an interactive map showing in real time how many vehicles are available in the nearest locations, and the pricing for each of them. The user clicks on his or her choice of provider and is taken directly to a purchase and booking page. Bing Maps local language tools ensure that CarTrawler users in 174 countries in 30,000 city and airport locations can use the solution in the same way.
Healy says: “Users can type any address in the world, and Bing Maps will give us accurate matches for that address. The Bing Maps Locations API will pick up on the local terminology for postcodes, spellings, and miss-spellings in the correct local language so that the coordinates and rental data are always correct.”
CarTrawler operates in 40 languages, for more than 250 million customers around the world. Healy says: “Bing Maps provides the coverage and support we need to deliver a highly competitive location-based service. In addition, we found that Bing Maps licensing terms were the most appropriate for CarTrawler, having both business-to-business and business-to-customer operations.”
Access to market opportunity worth €18 billion. CarTrawler has grown 55 per cent year-on-year on average since its inception in 2005. One of the ways it continues to increase revenue is by accessing new markets. Healy says: “We’ve opened up the business to an additional €18 billion market with Bing Maps. The technology is a significant part of our growth strategy.”
Downtown rentals increased 33 per cent faster than airport rentals. “Live pricing and location availability sets us apart from our competitors. Since we deployed Bing Maps with CarTrawler, the rate of downtown rentals has grown 33 per cent faster than airport rentals. This is proof that we have the right idea and the right technology to back it up,” says Healy.
Development team supports business initiatives more easily. Healy says: “The development support for Bing Maps has meant that instead of trying to understand how to use a technology, we’ve focused on creating the business service we wanted.”
Customers have wide range of choices. “Customers might arrive at the airport and take a free hotel transfer, but then in a couple of days they can rent a car from their hotel to visit a local attraction or business appointment,” says Healy. “They have a range of rental options open to them at any stage of their trip—not just limited to when they arrive at the airport.”
Partner businesses have more cross-selling opportunities. The tool provides CarTrawler partners with even more opportunities for selling car rental in addition to hotel bookings and other services.
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