Notorious among the car rental industry, the busy Christmas period comes close to matching the summer peak in terms of demand for car hire by travellers wanting to get home for Christmas. Unfortunately, and also in common with the summer to some extent, many travellers just arrive at the rental stations thinking they can pick up a car on the day with no problems.
As well as being possibly the most expensive way to try and book a car hire, turning up at the desk can be very, very risky during peak trading times, these being Christmas, high summer and Easter. So why not save yourself the hassle and worry by booking early this year?
So, do you know what you’re going to be doing this Christmas yet? The sooner you do, the better it is. From as early as August or September rental bookings steadily start growing until about mid December when the last remaining cars are snapped up.
In order to make sure they have enough cars to meet demand the rental companies will offer incentives to book early, until about October because if they have your booking then, they can still account for it in their vehicle forecasts.
The reason they need your booking so early is so that they can plan how many cars they need to buy to cover the busy period. If they already have bookings for x number of cars, they can forecast more accurately and take a “risk" on the extra demand that will come in later.
So, by having more cars booked earlier on in the process the level of risk can be less overall. This makes the rental company happy as they can sell more rentals and leaves less customers sat out in the cold during the busy holiday period.
The obvious benefit of booking earlier for you is not only to save a little money on the booking by taking up whatever offers and incentives you can find, but to guarantee that you’ll be able to get not just a car, but the car you want to drive over the holiday period.
Incredibly every year the call centres of all the major car rental companies are inundated with people who have just turned up on Christmas Eve only to find that none of the rental companies has a single car left to give them. So this year, don’t be stuck out in the cold, take advantage of the opportunity to save yourself a little money and more importantly make sure you get to where you’re going this Christmas.
John Abrahams is a life long traveller and works on various web projects including contributions at Popular Car Hire where he is a consultant editor working on the Car Hire Guide .