Silvercar Looks to Make Renting a Car Easier and Hassle-Free

Audi A4

Luke Schneider, the CEO of Texas-based upstart rental car agency Silvercar is looking to change the game when it comes to renting a car. Schneider describes the current method of choosing a rental car as the “PT Cruiser Lottery”, which forces you to choose from the least terrible car of all the terrible ones on the lot. Schneider is looking to make every car you look at on his lot a winner.

More specifically, Schneider is looking to rent out an Audi 4. Silvercar, which has an influx of money from angel investors CrunchFund, SV Angel and others, is completely changing the rental car experience by giving customers the opportunity to choose from a rental car with some style.

According to Schneider, “We want to do for rental cars what iTunes did for music.” While that may sound like a laughable goal, Schneider does present an awfully compelling case. At Silvercar, you begin by choosing any car, as long as that car is an Audi A4 with a silver paint job.While that does limit your options of getting stuck with a lousy car, its the technology inside the car that makes Silvercar’s idea work.

According to Schneider, “The marriage between mobile and travel are really well suited to each other. We’re leveraging technology to get you on the road as quickly as possible.” It is in this sense that Silvercar utilizes a combination of web-based and app-based booking and payment methods that utilize Silvercar’s site and mobile apps.

The way the service works is you book your rental in advance via the site or app, which sets you up a profile that has your payment and contact information along with your favorite satellite radio stations and the addresses of your hotel and meeting locations. Once you go to pick up your car you go to the lot, pick out an Audi A4 and enter in its unique identifier into the Silvercar app. The car unlocks, the embedded data connection recognizes that you are you and all of your pre-saved data is downloaded to the Audi’s infotainment system in a matter of seconds.

Silvercar is definitely aiming to take the hassle out of renting a car, as well as the disappointment and frustration you get from renting another terrible car. Silvercar doesn’t make you wait in any lines or deal with any annoying desk clerks, though a concierge services is a simple phone call away. Oh and the best part is that, according to Schneider, renting a car from Silvercar won’t cost you any more than the rental price of an average full-size sedan from a traditional rental car agency.

Source: Wired – At Rental Car Upstart, You’ll Take a Silver Audi, or Walk

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HomeAway Names Former Expedia International President as New Director

HomeAway LogoHomeAway Incorporated, the top online vacation rental service located in Texas, has just named Simon Breakwell as the newest member of the board. Breakwell formerly served as the director for travel website Expedia Incorporated, so you know that he is more than qualified for the position at HomeAway.

Breakwell will serve as an independent director, as well as a member of HomeAway’s audit committee, replacing Todd Chaffee, who recently resigned from his position on the board. This announcement comes directly from the company itself and was announced in a regulatory filing.

Breakwell was previously the president of Expedia’s international business and joins the board as HomeAway looks to expand outside of the United States and to add travel services to its mainstay business helping users rent vacation properties. HomeAway announced back in June that it will offer airline tickets as well as rental cars through a new partnership with online travel agency Priceline.com Incorporated.

Chaffee is a partner at Institutional Venture Partners, which was an early investor in HomeAway. The fund participated in a $250 million financing round in 2008 that was led by Technology Crossover Ventures and also included Redpoint Ventures. Institutional Ventures has also backed Twitter Incorporated as well as LivingSocial.

In addition to that, HomeAway also raised $216 million in an initial public offering back in June 2011 by selling 8 million shares at $27 per share. The stock has since lost 13% and gained less than 1% to $23.60 at the close in New York.

It is interesting to see HomeAway looking to expand into international business. The site is already one of the leading vacation rental sites in the United States and international business could really be a huge industry for the site. It could also be a good money maker for renters in the U.S. as they could increase their customer base to international renters, allowing for transcontinental vacation rentals and house swaps.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek – HomeAway Names Breakwell Director as Chaffee Resigns

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New H&E Rental Depot Opens in Midland, Texas

H&E Equipment ServicesH&E Equipment Services has just opened a new equipment rental location in Midland, Texas. This new store joins seven other full-service H&E operations in the state as well as 65 more across the nation. H&E stated that the store’s opening follows its proposed growth strategy plan which it recently announced.

The new Midland facility is 11,000 square feet and has been designed and newly constructed to serve equipment customers. The building has office space for sales and rentals in addition to a large shop, parts and yard areas. In addition to that, the store will specialize in aerial lifts, telescopic forklifts, compact and some large earthmoving equipment along with general construction equipment like generators, compressors, concrete equipment, light towers and more.

According to H&E Midland Branch Manager Joe Mancaruso, “We have visited and surveyed customers and determined that our full-service business model is exactly what they are after in an equipment supplier. We not only offer rentals, but new and used equipment sales, in-shop and mobile service and repair, a large parts inventory, training and many other value-added services. We feel the business climate and opportunity is prime to become involved in the Midland-Odessa, Texas area.”

Back in June, H&E Equipment Services started an “aggressive” recruitment program to add senior executives, branch managers and sales representatives in support of its US rental expansion. The company is also seeking to add rental locations to strengthen its network. The company has 65 locations, with most of its revenues generated in the Gulf Coast and intermountain regions in the United States.

Source: Access Lift & Handlers – H&E opens new rental depot in Texas

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Rent Mine Online Acquired By RealPage

RentMineOnline logoRealPage Incorporated, one of the leaders in software and software-enabled services for rental housing industry professionals, has just announced that it has acquired RentMineOnline Incorporated (RMO). RMO is a software-as-a-service provider of social network marketing solutions for the multifamily rental housing industry. This acquisition will extend RealPage’s LeaseStar multi-channel managed marketing solution which allows property owners and managers to originate, syndicate, manage and capture leads more effectively.

RMO helps property owners and managers generate leads by combining the success of online resident referral programs with the power of social networks, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It is estimated that the average social media user has over 150 Facebook friends and Twitter followers so network resident referral campaigns are quickly becoming an extremely important source of leads for the rental housing industry.

According to Chairman and CEO of RealPage Steve Winn, “Adding a social network referral channel to our LeaseStar solution is expected to help increase the percentage of overall leads that a property can generate organically, reducing dependency on more expensive traditional listing services. Social influence in the rental decision is providing to increase conversion rates, so property owners and managers are now using this type of tool to improve both the quantity and quality of leads that they receive. In addition, we expect social network recommendations to help improve search engine optimization of our LeaseStar websites.”

Ed Spiegel, CEO of Rent Mine Online, added, “We are excited to become part of the RealPage team. We have revolutionized the way property owners and managers utilize social media to drive demand reaching over 10 million unique friends since our inception. We are delighted that our vision and dedication on this front will enable us to become part of the LeaseStar multi-channel marketing solution, which should transform the way property owners and managers solve the total rental housing demand equation.”

Source: Market Watch – RealPage Acquires Rent Mine Online

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U-Haul Rentals Popping Up in Businesses All Across Texas

U-HaulOne of the biggest new additions to many business in Texas these days is the addition of U-Haul rentals for customers. U-Haul rentals are probably the most popular transportation rentals in the country, as well as some of the most useful, which is why many business, both large and small, are adding them to their offerings.

The most recent business to add U-Haul rentals to its offerings in Texas is Econo Self Storage. Thanks to a recent partnership with U-Haul, Econo Self Storage can now offer its customers a plethora of moving equipment and supplies specifically designed for moving household furnishings.

These rentals includes things like moving van rentals, open trailers, closed trailers, furniture pads, appliance dollies, furniture dollies, tow dollies and even auto transports. Econo Self Storage will also offer sales items to protect their customers’ belongings and make moving easier. These items include things like heavy-duty boxes, which are also made up of 90% recycled content and are also available in a lot of different sizes to accommodate any situation.

According to President of the U-Haul Company of North Houston Jerry Lunn, “U-Haul is proud to be partnering with a quality independent business such as Econo Self Storage David is a great example of the type of successful business relationship U-Haul has established in order to build and maintain a strong network of more than 15,000 independent dealers across North America.”

U-Haul has been partnering with business owners all across North America in order to increase convenience for customers while simultaneously helping the environment, which is also a part of supporting the U-Haul Company’s Corporate Sustainability initiatives.

Source: Market Watch – Econo Self Storage in Porter, Texas Adds U-Haul Rentals

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Increased Apartment Rental Market Stemming from North Texas Job Growth

apartment for rentDuring the second quarter of 2012, there was a strong demand for apartment rentals in North Texas, which was a surprising fact given the rebounding home sales market. Renters absorbed 8,031 apartment rental units in Q2 2012, which totals out to five times the completed 1,563 apartment units.

Apartment occupancy was 94.1% in the second quarter, which was an increase of one full percentage point over the previous quarter according to data collected from Carrollton-based apartment analyst MPF Research.

According to Vice President of MPF Research Greg Willett, “Substantial job growth in North Texas is keeping apartment demand robust at the same time that single-family home sales are rebounding from their recently low levels. These are the kind of housing demand numbers we were hoping for and expecting to see.”

With occupancy levels rising, apartment rental prices also saw an increase of 1% during the second quarter according to the data collected. The top submarkets for rent growth included Uptown, Oak Lawn, the Northern Dallas suburbs, Grapevine and North Fort Worth.

The majority of the vacancies in the market are concentrated in the least desirable properties that were built from the 1970s and earlier, according to Willett. However, ongoing apartment construction is now set to deliver 14,832 apartment units to be delivered anywhere in the country, which has analysts concerned, Willett added.

Willett went on to say, “Delivery timing is the one thing to watch that could lead to a brief bump in the road for the North Texas apartment market, but so far developers have done a good job of spreading out completion dates.”

Source: Dallas Business Journal – North Texas job growth leads to robust apartment market

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North Texas Hail Storm Causes Surge in Car Rentals

Enterprise Rent-A-CarIf you were in North Texas last week then you probably had a bit of a run in with some nice-sized hail. North Texas motorists are still running around, looking for temporary transportation after a hail storm caused massive damage to homes and cars.

According to predictions, it is estimated that tens of thousands of cars will need to be fixed or completely replaced due to damage from the hail. Body shops in the are are still packed due to a recent tornado outbreak in April, with these damaged cars adding to the mayhem.

Naturally motorists are turning to rental car dealerships for help. While these rental car locations are doing their best to meet drivers’ needs, their stock is running out, leaving people without any transportation whatsoever.

A representative from Enterprise Rent-A-Car checked availability at the locations in Oaklawn, McKinney and Inwood, all of which were completely sold out. In addition to that, the representative also said that she has been inundated with calls from the Dallas area as well due to all the hail damage.

A sign on the Enterprise located on Northwest Highway tells customers to expect delays and is also asking people to be patient because of the catastrophe. In addition to that, the company is also bringing in more than 2.500 cars to North Texas to help with the increased demand.

The best advice that Enterprise is capable of giving customers at this time is to call a location directly to see if a car is available. Other companies, like Thrifty Car Rental at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and LoveField, have had available cars, though it is unclear how long they will last.

At the present time it is estimated that the total damage to North Texas residents is in excess of $400 million with that number only expected to increase as time goes on.

Source: NBCDFW.com – Rental Cars Limited After Hail Storm

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HomeAway Partners with Priceline for Rental Car Services

Priceline NegotiatorHomeAway Incorporated has just announced the addition of airline ticketing and rental car services powered by the Priceline Partner Network, which is a business unit of Priceline.com (yes, the same Priceline that uses William Shatner as a spokesman).

This new partnership allows travelers to evaluate three major aspects of their trip planning through a single interface. Anybody who books a vacation home rental, which HomeAway specializes in, on the site or on VRBO.com from an owner or property manager using HomeAway’s ReservationManager will be able to secure the following:

  • Airline ticketing options with almost all major airlines through Priceline.com. This service includes seat mapping, the ability to book different classes of seats and support for airline frequent flier miles.
  • Published-price car rental reservations worldwide and the ability to use rental car company discount codes.

According to Chief Executive Officer for HomeAway Brian Sharples, “The addition of airline tickets and rental cars is a natural fit to our business and the needs of our customers. The choice of Priceline Partner Network also gives our customers broad access to the most popular airlines and rental car companies for both domestic and international trips.”

Randy Schartner, Priceline Partner Network President, added, “HomeAway is the clear leader int the vacation rental marketplace and we are very excited to power these new travel services for them. With the addition of airline ticketing and rental cars, we believe that HomeAway will be an even more compelling choice for travelers looking for the right vacation rental.”

Source: PR Newswire – HomeAway Taps Priceline Partner Network to Add Flights & Rental Cars to its Services

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DepositGuard Evaluates Top 20 Texas Vacation Rental Sites

DepositGuard logoVacation rentals are the latest thing when it comes to family vacations. Families going on vacation are usually looking for a fun place to stay that reminds them of home these days, which is why vacation rentals are becoming so popular. Texas is one of the most popular locations for vacation home rentals, with the industry becoming one of the most profitable in the state.

DepositGuard, one of the pioneers in providing secure vacation rental payments, has just issued its very first annual round-up, evaluating 20 of the leading vacation rental sites in the industry. The round-up includes evaluations of sites such as VRBO, Vacation Rental Agent, Corporate Housing by Awner and airbnb, among many others.

DepositGuard’s round-up highlights exposure to risk for consumer payments and also provides a free tool and resource to help travelers make more informed decisions about what site to go to for their next vacation home rental.

According to Owner and Editor of Vacation-Times.org Richard Marquette, “It’s time that this fast growing industry take notice of payment methods, because consumers definitely are doing their homework before making decisions on where to find their next vacation rental. Now that secure payment options are available, consumers are finding more peace of mind using those payment methods when sending money to someone they’ve never met for a rental they’ve never seen.”

Finding the right vacation rental on the internet can be a tricky thing. I know that whenever I need to find something on the internet I never know which site to trust, which site is giving me the best deal or which one is trying to rip me off. With vacation rentals, there is even more risk because you are giving money to a stranger before you can even inspect where you are going to be staying.

DepositGuard tries to ensure that you never make the wrong vacation rental decision and with this first annual round-up evaluation, renters are now able to see what sites will give them the best deals so they can ensure that they aren’t getting ripped off.

Source: Houston Chronicle – DepositGuard Publishes First Annual Vacation Rental Website Round-Up

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Bobzio.com Announces Free Lifetime Listings for Texas Vacation Rentals

Bobzio logoVacation rentals in Texas are in high demand, at least as far as bobzio.com is concerned. Bobzio.com is a co-op of vacation rental owners, home exchanges and area services and has also just announced free lifetime listings for owners of vacation rentals in Texas. To put that into perspective, a website like bobzio.com would usually charge around $1,000 for the same perks and listing benefits.

Each Texas vacation rental owner is allowed unlimited photos, video upload, interactive reservation calendar, Google Map and email contact forms. In addition to that, owners will also soon be able to accept credit card payments without fees as well. Bobzio.com is also offering insurance against loss of deposits to travelers, all without any fee for a lifetime property listing.

Bobzio.com is still in its infancy having only launched a couple of months ago, though it is growing at an impressive rate. More and more users are discovering the different advantages of searching for rentals based on activities like golf, theme parks, scuba diving and any activity imaginable.

Being a co-op, bobzio.com is owned by the members. The ownership role, however, will be determined whenever the first 20,000 members have joined. This means that this is the perfect time to join up. An opportunity that could save you $1,000 instantly while also having the potential to generate tons of revenue doesn’t come along every day.

Bobzio.com also offers training on techniques designed to increase internet marketing exposure for individual listings and tips to get photos and videos to show up in some of the major internet search engines. If you own a Texas rental property and have been looking for a way to get your property out to a huge market, bobzio.com may be just what you are looking for. But you better hurry, because this deal won’t be around forever and it really does seem too good to pass up.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle РTexas Vacation Rentals & Home Swaps Are in High Demand; Bobzio.com Announces Needing More Listings to Keep Pace with Vacationers

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