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Hertz app blends travel planner, GPS to enhance rental experience

Hertz, moving to create a more seamless experience for rental-car customers, has rolled out a free mobile application that integrates a travel planner and location technology to let drivers browse information about millions of United States destinations and sync trip plans with an in-car GPS system.

The Park Ridge, N.J.-based company?s NeverLostCompanion app offers access to more than 10 million U.S. destinations, including events, local weather, augmented reality and social-media sharing. Built on the strengths of its original Hertz NeverLost travel planner, the new app is an example of how mobile can bring together a multitude of aspects of motor travel to enhance the car-rental experience.

?From the beginning we didn?t want to simply make a mobile version of Hertz NeverLost,? said Graham Weedon of Hertz public relations. ?We wanted a travel app that complements our in-car system, we wanted it to be intuitive, and to make best use of current smart phone technology. 

?For example, hi-res images and audio descriptions to preview locations, horizontal and vertical swiping to peruse destinations, and multi-threading, such as pairing your phone to the new NeverLost for hands-free calling while simultaneously browsing for destinations and even sending them to the device for easy routing,? he said.
City guides
The app, developed by Hertz?s Plano, TX-based Navigation Solutions subsidiary, can be downloaded from Apple?s iTunes and Google Play.

The home page features a guide to destinations. Users will find more than 40 detailed city guides, including restaurants, must-see spots, attractions beyond the city limits and parks. Certain city guides include neighborhood details and tours. 

?Each city guide?s main screen needed to have vibrant colors and exciting images that are unique to the destination,? Mr. Weedon said.

Users can store their favorite selected destinations in a "My Favorites" section and see them automatically saved in the city's folder. The app also includes a weather icon including the current temperature, precipitation, wind, daily highs and lows, and a five-day forecast.

The interactive map pinpoints the user?s exact location and provides walking and driving routes.

As well as giving users the ability to share their location on Facebook, Twitter or email, the app has an augmented reality feature that provides a live display of nearby attractions.
Users can speed-dial to easily contact Hertz NeverLost support and synchronize data with the Hertz NeverLost cloud.

Hertz, the largest worldwide airport general use car rental brand with 10,090 corporate and licensee locations in 145 countries, aims to re-invent the car rental experience and provide customers with a new and improved way to rent cars. 

It has been building toward giving travelers a simple, mobile way to research, explore and plan trips.
Multiple channels
A proliferation of rental booking options has made it possible for transactions to be carried out through multiple devices and multiple channels. Customers also have increasing choice and channel options when it comes to car rental, especially with the growth of mobile and tablet bookings.
The company has developed mobile booking apps, responsive web design, and on demand technology to enable customers to rent cars by the hour at any time of the day.
In 2010, Hertz partnered with HopStop for a major online and mobile advertising campaign spanning both companies? operations in London, Paris, New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington. The aim of the venture was both to help city dwellers get around more easily and cross-promote each company?s digital platforms.

Last year, Hertz upgraded its email and SMS program that provides information about a rental with the ability for users to change their vehicle using a mobile device.

New York attractions in Hertz app.

The company realizes that car rental customers are by definition on the move and designing services for a mobile platform provides it with unique opportunities to talk to customers at the right time.

Mobility is key
The new app is but the latest effort to create a more seamless experience for customers.

?Mobility is key,? Mr Weedon said. ?You can search for something fun to do from anywhere, like the airport, standing in line, your hotel, a boring business meeting, etc. 

?An all-new Hertz NeverLost is currently rolling out to dozens of Hertz airport rental locations across the US and Canada. A press release is expected before Labor Day to formally announce this with more detail,? he said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Marketer, New York.