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Dollar Rent A Car goes mobile

August 18, 2009

dollar-carDollar Rent A Car introduced a new mobile Web site to attract traveling business executives looking to make bookings on the mobile phone in a fiercely competitive car-rental market.

The car rental firm turned to Usablenet Inc.’s platform to create a site that renders well on Web-enabled mobile devices. The site shares many of the key functions of the company’s site for the computer Internet but on a simplified scale.

“Really our whole strategy is to be in all of the places our customers expect us to be,” said Chris Payne, senior manager of corporate communications at Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc., Tulsa, OK.

“We are about making things easy for the traveler,” he said. “And especially when you have so many people on the road, particularly business travelers, these are customers that expect to be able to reach you whenever and wherever it’s most convenient for them.”

The mobile site lets travelers make a reservation at any Dollar location worldwide. Consumers can also cancel or modify an existing reservation.

All car types can be seen on the mobile

Of particular interest to Dollar is the ability for mobile consumers to log in as a Dollar Express member with all the information already pre-populated in the profile.

Customers will also receive special offers with promotional codes for benefits linked to the corporate account ID number.

Moreover, the customer will win Dollar Express Rewards points toward free future rental days or frequent flier miles with participating airlines and hotels.

“That would get my loyalty as a customer if I didn’t have to punch in all the unnecessary information on my mobile phone,” Mr. Payne said about the Dollar Express program on mobile.

Dollar Thrifty is one of 300 clients using the Usablenet platform, including Amtrak, Delta Air Lines,, U.S. Airways, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels, NJ Transit and Northwest Airlines. The cities of New York and Miami and Oregon State are customers, too.

This is the first mobile site that Dollar Thrifty has optimized for

The Internet accounts for a huge chunk of Dollar’s sales.

Forty-two percent of all business comes through the site at, 32 percent from other online channels such as Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia and the rest from travel agents, telephone bookings and walk-ins at locations worldwide.

“This has radically changed who our company is today,” Mr. Payne said of the Internet. “I remember working when it was less than 1 percent.”

Dollar is the nation’s sixth-largest car rental brand and Thrifty is the seventh-largest. Dollar has more than 535 locations in 48 countries, of which 250-plus are in the United States.

A user-friendly mobile site will help Dollar retain and possibly acquire new customers in a highly competitive car rental market peopled with brands such as Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, National and Budget.

“I think our expectations are that it’s another customer channel to us,” Mr. Payne said.

“Ultimately, with being our cheapest distribution channel, we want to drive as much business as possible through,” he said.

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Mickey Alam Khan is editor in chief of Mobile Commerce Daily, Mobile Marketer and Luxury Daily. Reach him at

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