Future shake-up in car-hire loyalty

The advent of electronic, autonomous vehicles will bring a far-reaching change in car-hire loyalty programmes, the form of which will only become clear as the sector takes shape and form. 


So says a forward-gazing Lance Smith of Avis Budget Rent a Car, SA. He predicts that car ownership will give way to on-demand services secured through apps, much like “an Uber without a driver”. 

Lance draws an analogy to the evolution of musical entertainment channels, which we once received via gramophones, then record players and vinyl, tapes and tape decks followed by CDs and now downloadable to digital devices and through audio streaming. 


The worldwide sale of electronic vehicles is now said to have passed the two-million mark and the media continuously track driverless vehicle projects being pursued by car manufacturers such as Tesla.  Lance’s fascinating glimpse into the future foresees a time when drivers will become obsolete, giving way to apps enabling consumers to order an autonomously driven vehicle as and when required. 


“At this stage, no one knows who the suppliers will be, or where customers will be able to get their vehicles from,” says Lance. “There are many possible sources travel agents, tour operators, car-rental companies, airlines, loyalty programmes, search engines and technology companies.” 


This changing landscape has major implications for mobility as well as the format of loyalty programmes as they currently exist. The traditional pattern of miles for bookings will have to be overhauled but just how the chips will fall will take time to become clear.