Future of Car Rental Software is in Self Driving!

In this post lets take a deep dive and look into the various elements to look for in a good Car rental software and where this entire space is heading

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Interested in DRIVER-LESS Cars? Its the Future! More info here

Even before that lets discuss on what is the need for a Vehicle rental system & how things have been happening so long. The practice of renting things has been in practice for a while & with the boom of the internet, it has gone to a whole new level. Unlike static items, renting vehicles is a lot more complicated business ( as it is mobile ). As per the rules & regulations of different countries, vehicle rental business needs to deal with a lot of strict processes for a smooth run. This strict rule & process is also required to keep things in control and safe guard the business against un-authorized usage of the vehicle & theft.

Transportation as a whole has advanced from horse driven carriages to fuel powered vehicles to electric vehicles to Autonomous driver-less cars! Obviously its that the future of rental cars & vehicles will also be shifting to driver-less vehicles. More businesses would love to change their fleet of cars & vehicles to Autonomous vehicles as it saves them a lot of time and money. All the in-convenience related to human error & management would fade away instantly with the car OS taking control.

We are already witnessing a revolution happening in this field ( thanks to the efforts of pioneers like Google, Tesla etc. ). There is an sudden urgency in the air for all car manufacturers to convert their vehicles to driver-less mode ( or they face a big challenge in the market & it may lead to their downfall ). Even legacy big players like Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Toyota etc. are investing a lot on driver-less technology to they dont miss the boat.

Now its more than clear that if all the vehicle manufacturers are ready to upgrade themselves to the Autonomous driving version, the car rental industry will also soon shift to driver less cars. Now when this happens ( which is very near ), obviously all the car rental software the businesses are using will become obsolete & they would need to upgrade to car rental software that works with driver-less cars.

But,How can car rental software be implemented in Self Driving cars?

Before we discussing the approach to integrate a car rental software into Self Driving cars, lets take a look at how diversified this upcoming revolution is and what are all the different platforms & companies competing here.

Audience choice!
Best car rental software of the year: Smart Car Tech

Just reading about the upcoming Driver-less car era, clearly tells us that nearly all the automobile giants in the world are working hard already to grab a piece of the pie. Not only Automobile giants but also startups, companies in other verticals ( .com, Telecom, Electronics etc. ) are putting their hand in.

When it comes to Driver-less cars its a lot of Mechatronics combined with programming. Various big companies & startups are trying to create a better version of their Self-Driving Software's and Operating systems. Prominent players like Blackberry are coming up with their own OS for self driving cars. On the other hand we have Linux & Ubuntu OS’s powering a couple of leading self-driving concepts from Google, Tesla etc.

A good Car Rental Software should be developed as an app or a plugin that can be integrated or installed in the Operating systems of Driver less cars. For sure the leading Self Driving car operating systems will give out API’s or programming SDK’s for other software developers to create apps on top of it ( like how we develop apps for Mac, Windows etc. ). But since this is in the transport vertical and safety is the primary concern, there will for sure be many checks and moderation on the level of commands the Car rental software can issue to the Self-driving car OS. Next lets look at how a typical process flow would be from the user angle, when he tries to book a self driving car using his cab booking app.

FAQ: Car rental software Vs. Cab hire software
There are always been a confusion in people’s mind on the difference between a car rental solution & a Cab hire software. Here is a simple explanation:
Car rental software is used by companies like AVIS ie. companies which provide self-driving cars for rent. You can order a car of your choice and drive it for a certain time period and return it. You can opt to either pickup the car at the location of the business or they will deliver it to you where you are. It is used by businesses which have a fleet of cars for hire.
Cab hire software is used by Taxi dispatch companies for instant hire. It is mostly driven by a driver. You can order a car from your location via. a mobile app etc. and it reaches you within minutes. You can key in your destination and the driver will drop you at the destination and you will be charged only for that. Eg: UBER, LYFT etc.

Top 9 things to look for in a Car rental software:

  • I would say the top most important thing to look for in any car rental software would be the presence of Mobile apps and cloud solutions ( all synced ). Times are changing & a strong mobile app presence is a must as most of your customers will be trying to rent a car on the go. Do note, that look for solutions that offer both Android and IOS apps
  • Scalability & Performance is a very important factor. Since car rental software’s work in real time and keep polling the server continually, there is a very high possibility of a serious performance hit if this is not taken seriously. Your app or cloud solution should open lightning fast when opened by any of your customers.
  • And yes, it would be really cool if you can get both the car rental software features and Cab hire features bundled in the same platform. That is, you should be able to provide instant cab hire chauffeur driven features for passengers who need instant pick-up / Drop & give the ability for customers to rent a car.
  • The rental software should be futuristic or at-least have a good road map for the future. The reason being, the world of Car rentals is changing fast & there is huge innovation happening every day. As the trend keeps changing, you dont need to loose out on the competition. Select a car rental software company that has a clear vision & gives constant new updates with the latest trend being incorporated continually.
  • The last point being, look for built in specific features that cater to your business. Ex: Airport drop as a separate module built in, Events drop booking etc. as it helps customers to directly access the particular feature straight forward and can act as the feature that keeps your brand in the customers mind the next time he/she plans to hire a vehicle.
  • While we are super excited about the features in a car rental software, we should also consider the security aspects. Everyday security is becoming a big issues with even big company apps getting hacked. Make sure that the product about to purchase has all the basic security checks done. Both the Mobile apps and the website should be very secure with no loop holes. If this factor is not given importance it can become a very serious issue and haunt you in future.
  • The car rental industry is booming everyday. More marketplaces like UBER etc. are opening up more possibilities for everyone to rent out a car. With such growth also comes stiff competition. So when you are planing to buy a Car rental software always think BIG. In near future you will for sure be contacted by other car owners to allow to list their cars in your platform as well. So while you are choosing a vehicle hire software, see that it also has the Multi-vendor features. By Multi-vendor it means that your car rental software should also have the ability for other car vendors to register as a vendor inside your platform. Upload information about their car and rent it out ( like how anyone can sell their products in Amazon or eBay ). The software should allow easy payouts for each vendor from your Super Admin Panel. Each vendor should be able to check his revenue snap shot from his login. Add / Remove vehicles etc. If you can manage to get a Multi-vendor Car hire software, you can initially start by having your own cars for rent and as you grow can bring in other car vendors also to rent out their vehicles via. your platform. As a business you can charge a commission on every revenue they make.
  • Ability to request a particular vehicle: This is something which the modern day passenger needs ( & not much Car rental businesses have implemented it ). Like how different sector of people like different quality standards in items they purchase, passengers also prefer a car of their choice. The car rental software you are planning use should have the feature for the passenger to raise a request for the type of car they like to be added to your inventory. This will help you get repeat customers ( once you add the inventory to your database ). It would be all the more good, if your car vendors will be directly notified of a request & the passenger will be notified of the addition of the car to his request.
  • Surge pricing based on demand: One other most essential thing you would need in your car rental software is the Surge pricing feature. Its already a proven formula that surge pricing works by encouraging the drivers to be available in super busy hours while also providing a new revenue channel to the business owner. Surge pricing helps you as a business owner to attract passengers with availability of cars during high demand busy hours. Also it helps you to easily convince car drivers to drive for your company as they get paid more. This is essentially a win-win feature.
  • One other essential module in any Car rental software is the Events tagging module. In the industry of car rentals and Hire, events is one big customer pulling factor. If used properly it can become a growth hack by itself. As we all know majority of people use cabs and taxi’s for attending some event or other ( eg: wedding, party, get-together, meetup etc. ). The aim here is to have a convenient feature inside a taxi booking platform, so the organizer of any particular event can buy slots beforehand for their guests. Via. this the event organizers can get their guests picked up and dropped from home to venue in a more convenient manner. This can also act as s big revenue channel for the taxi company owner. So look to see if the vehicle hire software you are planning on has such event tagging features also in the script.
FAQ: Does a Car Rental Software require a system console version as well?
It depends. In olden days ( 10 years back ), when there was not much internet connectivity available as it is now it made sense to have a console version. Moreover a console version always had that stereotypical strict look and gave the serious software feel. Mostly the console versions processed data that was not meant to be stored on the cloud but just in the local HDD. But in any angle, the present day Car rental software need not be a local console version. Even if it is, it needs to be connected to the cloud at the back end by some means for obvious reasons. When this is the case, the question raises: Why even a console version?.

Next, lets look at a few extra revenue channels that would be awesome to be present inside a vehicle rental software:

  • eCommerce: Yeah, you read that right. Just imagine a passenger spends a solid 20 mins ( quick ride ) -to- 40 mins inside the cab that he has obtained via. your car rental software. During this entire time, your app is open. There are plenty of ways you can sell something to him during this time period. Maybe, you can even make all your cabs as a moving retail store. Al your drivers are sellers. If you can have a multi-vendor marketplace in your UBER app that only shows products uploaded by the driver of the car. The passenger can browse through the items and order anything he wants & he will get it immediately. This is an extra avenue for the driver to make money & you too can bank on the sales commission.
  • Food on destination: Having a cab company, you should for sure have regular destinations like Airport etc. Create a tie-up with a catering service / Hotel in the airport to serve delicious food at the car door-step when the passenger arrives. The passenger will be able to order food from your app & it will be packed and ready for him to pickup upon arrival at the airport. You can earn a commission percentage on each sale or ask the food vendor to pay for each lead.
  • Surge Pricing: There are times when the demand for cars are peak. At these times, you can serve the people who really badly want the car at any cost. So, the car rental software you employ should have features to enable surge in pricing during these peak hours. Many passengers will be ready to opt in for surge pricing to get a cab on priority. This can be a regular boost in revenue for you.
  • Multiple car types: People always have preference. Different people have different taste. This mentality of the consumer has led to huge business models. The same can be replicated on your car rental business as well. Check to see if your car rental software has the ability to categorize the cars that are listed Ex: Sedan, Luxury, SUV, hatchback etc. You can easily charge a different rate or premium based on the car chosen by the passenger.
  • Test Driving before purchase: Check out this scenario. You are planning to buy a used car. You would like to test drive it. The owner of the car would like a minimal charge for each person test driving it ( as many would need to do it & the owner has a peace of mind that his car is not been mis-used). How about you ordering the car you would like to checkout via. a car rental software & purchase it once you are happy with it? Yes, its a WIN-WIN for both the owner & the the buyer. Check to see if your Car rental software has provisions or APIs of some kind to easily bring in such revenue making features. A lot many people would like to use your service for such niche needs.

Lets get back to the discussion we originally started this article with ie. about the future of car rental software with self driving autonomous cars. So, yeah lets look at a few profitable business ideas that can be implemented on self driving cars.

  • Windscreen display: As self-driving cars become more and more mainstream, there will be a lot of free time for the passenger inside. This time can be used in a variety of manner ie. Entertainment, work, calls etc. The wide windscreen on the front can be used to project displays like movies, teleconferencing etc. Would be awesome if the car rental software you provide for the passengers has the ability to turn on / off the display and the mobile phone acts like the remote to bring on various displays of choice.
  • Route Tour assistant: For sure people travelling on long distances would be interested in knowing about the history of the route they are travelling through. Just imagine your car rental software is connected to the map and pulls out the related information based on the location surroundings and searches the internet for any interesting information about the location and narrates it to the travelers.
  • Across vehicle communication: In near future there will be a lot many autonomous self driving vehicles. How about a “Firechat” like module in your car rental software that creates an on-the-go mesh network. This gives the ability to initiate a permission based contact with the people in the nearby moving vehicles. Will prove to be a sophisticated way to find new friends and also ask information if any.
  • Other vehicles guidance: There are many case where people shift house / office etc. & take all their goods in a truck while they hire a car to go in the front.Would be helpful, if you can have the ability in your car rental software for passengers to tag other hired vehicles, so it follows the car. Since self driving trucks are also becoming a reality, imagine if you rental car passengers can tag a truck, so it follows the car wherever it goes.
  • Instant News on the destination: When a passenger hires a autonomous car via your car rental software, he will for sure spend significant time on browsing other things on his mobile during the journey. You can have a feature for the passenger to get any news on the happenings around the destination he is travelling to. It can range from weather report to traffic news to any sort of interesting information the passenger would need to be aware of before arriving at the spot.

Next lets discuss a couple of growth hacks & marketing ideas that can be employed to get more passengers & Drivers sign up on your Car Rental marketplace:

  • Mobile app optimization: This entire business model resides on top of the mobile platform. So it makes complete sense to accept the fact that your app should be on top of the Play store and Apple App store to get more people to download and install your app. You would need to follow all the standard app store optimization strategies to get your car rental app eligible to come on top for App store and play store searches. You would need to evaluate a lot of criteria even before submitting your app. Decide very clearly on which locale you are planing to submit your app for and mention that clearly during submission.
  • App Marketing: Make sure you do ample marketing for your car rental software. There are various ways in which you can market your car rental app ( both inorganic & Organic ). If you plan on getting instant results and downloads for your vehicle hire app, you can proceed with advertising directly on the Google Play store & Apple App store. Some of the best practices for achieving organic results start from having a good and detailed Title, Description for the app page on the respective app stores. Submitting the app in the proper category and targeting the right demographics also help a lot. Apart from it, you can also follow a set of marketing activities. You can get a few ideas HERE.
  • Local directory listings: Think global, act local is the strategy most apps would require as their service would be a lot catered to the local market. Once the app becomes a hit in your locality, you can scale it. Even Mobile apps that are not location independent ( Games, Utilities etc. ) will benefit huge by being listed in various local directories. The simple fact is that however small a local directory may be, it will at-least have an handful of visitors, who you can target. So the more local directories you submit your car rental software to, the more the chances of it getting discovered by more people around the world.
  • SMS marketing: Mobile SMS is becoming free and more affordable in a lot many countries. And since the mobile phone is always with the user, it is one of the best ways to reach your target audience ( as your Car rental software is also a mobile based business ). There are many companies that facilitate legitimate messaging broadcast services ( Eg: Twilio ).
  • Local media advertising: This one cant be missed out. Its traditional and always works. The car rental software you have deployed requires the attention of your local audience foremost. Make a list of all the local newspapers and Free ad mediums in your neighborhood. Visit their office and strike a deal for a weeks time of repeated Ads in their channel ( These ads are often very cheap ). Also find agencies in your locality who do paper inserts, handouts etc. and advertise with them as well. This will give you instant results.
  • Offers: Nothing like a good offer. Its an age old proven technique that people love offers. An entire marketing campaign can be spun off by introducing a new amazing offer and attracting audience to test out your Car rental software. Make a math of the marketing budget you have in mind, and in one of your operating months use this budget on entirely giving it as an offer to customers. If done intelligently, you can easily attract lot of users and if your service is good, they will stick along.
  • FB Page: You can also start a FB page targeting the category in which your vehicle hire software is made for. Try to create an interactive community in the category by posting regular links and articles in the page. As you gain more fans to your page, you can promote your mobile app to them and also push a Ad to your fans in a strategic manner.

On a side note, if you require instant installations… its good to take up a paid Ad campaign with any famous Ad providers like Admob, Buy Sell Ads etc. You can easily get a paid campaign started at any budget and the required installs you would need instantly to jump start your Car rental software business. Facebook Ads are also another effective method to reach your target audience instantly.

We have spoken a lot on Car Rental Software's & Vehicle hire software's and providers. Also we have discussed about the marketing techniques, Essential features in good scripts etc. Next lets take a look at the top 5 providers of such solutions and Pro’s and Con’s of each platform present out there.

Smart Car Tech: The car rental software from “Smart car tech” is amazing because its Free :). The Open source initiative is commendable & the product is feature rich with all the required features integrated in a fantastic manner. The solution also comes with a full fledged Android app and IOS app. The beauty of this solution is that it also has the modern look and feel of a UBER or LYFT like solution. It also has powerful location based features like the modern car pooling apps. The platform has features for both Taxi dispatch and car rental. It also comes with a wide variety of Add on’s that you can choose from.

Provab: Provab is a Travel Software company that primarily focuses on a couple of Travel, Hotel & Event management software’s. The Travel central reservation system has all the essential features like Group booking, custom reporting, PMS etc. They also provide Travel portal software and related services with features such as Ticket booking, Hotel booking and transport booking. The company also promotes Holiday packages software, Accounting software etc. The Car rental software they have is an extension of the other software they provide and can be used for Vehicle hire management, Taxi Dispatch etc. Their software’s are also connected to other provider API’s & Amadeus GDS.

Rent Centric: This Car rental software company has been in the space for long. They have many products like P2P car sharing software, Motorcycle rental software, RV rental’s, Long term rental etc. The pricing model of Rent Centric is a mix of one time payment and a month on month subscription. Some of the interesting features in Rent Centric are VerX Direct ( It is a real-time Driver license verification system in Canada ). They also provide a remote start feature via. their OBD 2 system. They also provide Digital signature pads, GPS tracking platforms, Car share software etc.

Thermeon: This is a Car rental software company that has been in the industry for long. They have both web based and good old system based ( MS DOS ) software's. The car rental management suite provided by them is called Cars+. It is a hosted system with numerous features and extras built in. The platform has Reservation, Accounting & Reporting covered in it. Though the screenshots has a MSDOS like look and feel, you also get a GUI interface to operate the system. It also has steady fleet management features with features to record damage caused during minor accidents & repair management. The system also covers a suite of extensive accounting features like Invoices, Franchise management, Statement generation etc.

Car Cloud: Car Cloud can be called the eCommerce wing of any car rental software. They claim to increase the revenue of any car reservation business by directly connecting their eCommerce platform to the system. The model is more of a SAAS based business model and their solution can be attached to any existing car rental system — big or small. The solution mobile friendly ( ie. responsive ) & also comes with full analytics and reporting.


Next look at the various technologies that can make your Car rental software the best!

  • Node JS: Though many vehicle hire software’s in the market are made using legacy software, the employment of cutting edge technologies has its share of benefits. One such technology is Node JS. Node JS can power the back-end of your car rental software and make it super fast and scalable. Comparing it to PHP, this server side stack has many advantages like multi threading etc. which makes your application and website load lightning fast for your users. Node JS works best with its buddy technologies ie. Angular JS, Mongo DB, React JS.
  • Angular JS: Unlike PHP based software's where the front-end is just JS or VB script, MEAN stack based applications has a separate layer of front-end. Angular JS is the popular front-end scripting language from Google Inc,. Most of the times the backend for Angular applications are powered by Node JS and MongoDB. Using Angular JS for your Car rental software has a lot many advantages. The front end load times are very fast. Your users will not experience any page flickers during navigation between various screens. The updates are real time & you can push page modifications to visitors in real time.
  • Mongo DB: Opensource applications of the past were done using MySQL. The opensource applications of today are built using No-Sql technologies like Mongo DB. A Car rental software done using Mongo DB is super fast and highly scalable. Mongo DB apps are also very secure and robust. Since this database allows multi threading, the applications page loads have very little latency. MongoDB can also be used with PHP server side technologies, but it is best when combined with Node JS.
  • Native Android: We specify the word “Native” here because there are numerous companies that code mobile apps on Hybrid software like Ionic, React Native, Phone gap etc. The problem with hybrid apps are that they dont work well which real-time features are used ( like Chat, live streaming,real time Location detection etc. ). So its always advisable to go with the Native Google Java SDK and create your car rental software’s Android app. A native Android app will give a very pleasant look and feel and the smooth touch actions that are required. Locations based services are also quick and easy on native apps.
  • Swift IOS: Swift is the latest programming language from Apple ( before it was xcode ). As mentioned earlier, if you plan on having an IOS app for your Car rental software, do it on Native IOS Swift. The reason being, a Car rental software has a lot many real time components that need to be updated every instant. Swift does a marvelous job in giving out a spectacular user experience. Moreover you have the support from Apple Inc. with all future updates in the SDK etc. Thousands of stunning applications have been built with Swift as the front end and Node JS, Mongo DB as the backend.

Stay tuned for more interesting information on Self driving cars and innovative business ideas that can emerge when combining car rental software and autonomous cars.

Also check out the list of Online Business ideas that work!

FAQs

What is the most important factor while scaling a Car rental business?

While a Car rental software enables you start a car rental business, it does not guarantee you the success of the business. There are a lot more important things in making a business a hit. It starts from understanding your market, target audience and goes down to what your entire business plan and strategy is about. The team you have assembled to execute your plan also plays a vital role in pushing your business from where it is to where you would need it to be. As said always the idea is just 1% of your venture and the execution is the remaining 99%.

What are some of the associated businesses than can be done along with Car rental?

Car rental can be coupled with some related businesses as well. It would be advisable to be only in the related business area as those business will also contribute to the growth of your car rental business & vice versa. One such lucrative business is the online parking reservation business. You can also have an on-demand parking reservation system present in your Car Rental Software, so your customers can use the same app for booking / renting a car & also when trying to reserve a parking lot in their city. Its an added revenue channel as well for your business.

How to create a revenue stream by promoting other Car rental businesses?

One of the biggest factor to take in consideration when starting a car rental business is handling the execution of maintaining such a bulky business model with so many moving parts. Some play the game in a very smart manner by creating a car renal software that promotes other Car rental businesses like Avis, UBER etc. The only job of the owner of such businesses will be to promote and bring in more users and bookings. The operations part of the business will be handled by the respective companies. The owner of this business gets paid an affiliate income for every bookings made.

What is the next technological trend in Car rental software?

Initially in the 80’s people managed their Car rental business using desktop apps. Then when the Internet boomed in 90’s and browser based applications became mainstream, nearly every vehicle business in the world had a website. In the late 2000’s the world was taken over by smart mobile phones and all the vehicle rental businesses switched to mobile apps. Now, again there is a technological shift happening. Its the era of BOTs ( read more on what a BOT is HERE ). We are just in the beginning of a big BOT Rush. As more people use messaging apps like FB messenger, Slack, Skype, Telegram, Kik etc., there is a big opportunity for you. And it makes all the more sense to have your Rental business right where the crowd is already there. These messaging platforms have 100’s of millions of users buzzing around, and if your car rental software is present as a BOT inside, you can take advantage of the pro’s.

You can get a ready-made BOT with 100% source code HERE