Five Minutes With.. Elyes Mrad, VP Sales & Marketing, Hertz

Can renters are becoming younger, increasingly using vehicles for leisure purposes and booking online says Elyes Mrad, VP sales and marketing, Hertz.

Can you tell us about the car rental sector here in the UAE?

It is growing, along with the economy. The consumer is also changing and becoming younger. In the past our customers rented our cars for business purposes only, now we are seeing more customers from the leisure segment. The way people rent a car is also changing. More and more people are now online, and using the website to rent cars, they are also using their mobile devices; these are all forming a new channel of distribution.

Are you seeing an increase in online bookings?

Yes more and more people are going online to book, and even if they don’t book online, they browse our website to see what’s available and then they use our call centre to book a car. In the region here particularly, they like to talk to someone when booking a car to make sure they are getting the right order.

Can you tell us about your revenues?

Last year our revenue growth was double-digit growth in the high tens. On a global perspective, we had integration with our multi brand. Fourteen months ago our Fifty brand was added to the Hertz portfolio. We also launched a new brand in the US and Europe called Firefly which falls more in the leisure segment. So we are close to 20 per cent growth from in 2013 and our target is to continue this double-digit growth for this year. In the region we have a very high 25 per cent double-digit growth, depending on the market source and the destination. We are very happy with the growth of this region. We believe this growth is happening thanks to our partnership and also the dynamism that we have seen in this region. People are travelling more for leisure and business.

What challenges do you face in the region if any?

The challenge is the growth; the consumer is more demanding and discerning here.

Can you tell us about any green initiative you may have?

Part of our segment is the ‘Green Car’ segment, which is the biggest we have. It mostly consists of smaller cars that consume less, but we also have hybrid cars in our collection. We also have electrical cars in other regions such as the US and Europe, but this has not come to the Middle East yet. Being green for us is not just about the cars, but also as a company, we are looking at alternative ways to build our stations for example, the way we use water, we are looking at other ways of cleaning our cars, in a more environmentally green way by using ecologically friendly detergent or dry cleaning, a process where you use less water.

Do you get much demand for green cars here in the region?

No, people like the concept of green but they are not ready to pay for it. Having an electrical car is more expensive. Everyone says I am green, I’m interested and then you mention that it will cost five dollars extra, they then tend to think twice. So we offer smaller cars that consume less, that many people use, but not necessarily because they want to go green, but nevertheless it saves on fuel.

Do have any expansion plans in the region or in the UAE?

This region is very important to us, as it is moving very quickly on the leisure side, inbound and outbound, people have more disposable income, and they are travelling more. So we are really targeting this region, by offering tailored products for the consumer. For example consumers from the GCC can reserve cars in the US or UK from their home country.