The car rental industry is one of the leading markets in the entire rental economy. Its estimated size in 2023 was $29.94 billion, with a total user penetration of 14.1%. Moreover, the most dominating region in the car rental industry is North America, which captures more than 50% market share. There’s also transformational innovation in the industry, which is changing the entire consumer perspective towards renting cars. For example, as per Statista, nearly 83% of total revenue in the rental industry will be generated through online channels by 2027.
This highlights the paradigm shift in the mindset of consumers. Instead of renting out cars from offline merchants, consumers now prefer renting out cars from online platforms that bring ease of booking and ensure safe operations. One such car rental platform that offers the convenience of online booking along with an innovative offering is GoCars Tours.
About GoCars Tours:
Launched in 2004 by Nathan Withrington and Alasdair Clements, GoCar Tours provides specially engineered 3-wheel drive cars to tourists and helps them explore cities like a local. GoCar Tours started operations in San Francisco, US, and expanded to other cities like San Diego and Las Vegas. In 2008, GoCar Tours further extended its operations to Europe and opened franchises in Barcelona, Lisbon, Valencia, and Madrid.
If you are interested in venturing into the profitable car rental domain, this article includes a strategic roadmap to help you understand GoCar Tours’ value proposition and how you can build your own car rental website like GoCar Tours.
Value Proposition Offered by GoCar Tours
Small yellow cars roaming on the streets freely are no strangers to the locals of San Francisco, San Diego, and Las Vegas. These cars are branded as GoCars and can accommodate up to 2 persons. Mostly, they are rented by tourists visiting the city. However, what actually makes renting out GoCars so exciting is the value proposition of GoCar Tours.
Here are GoCar Tours’ core value propositions that have made them highly popular amongst locals and tourists:
- GPS-Guided Tours
GoCars are equipped with special GPS-enabled technology that guides tourists towards the different places of the town. They can follow the routes visible on the navigation and explore new restaurants and eateries. To further enhance the customer experience, the GPS device has a voice narration that informs tourists about all popular attractions that they come across on their route. This way, it becomes easy to explore various areas of the city.
- Safety and Convenience
In terms of safety and convenience, GoCar Tours has kept customer safety at the forefront. The GoCars are equipped with a small 49cc engine with a max power of 35 mph. This makes the car fairly easy to drive. Additionally, you get headlights, seatbelts, and helmets for added safety. The voice narration of GPS also alerts you if you ever go out of track and can guide you back on the track. All this makes GoCars very safe and convenient to use. In case of any emergency or malfunctioning, you can directly reach out to GoCar Tours’ road assistance.
- Online Bookings
GoCar provides convenience to customers by offering online bookings. Customers can select pre-packaged tours on the GoCar Tours website in advance. The car rental website also handles payments and provides customers with every information they want regarding their tours, including the duration of the tour and available dates. For example, the San Diego tour is approximately 5 hours and its available dates can be viewed on the booking calendar.
- Enriched Experience
There are tour buses available in nearly all regions where GoCar Tours operates. Still, many tourists prefer GoCars over regular buses. A key reason behind this is the flexibility and extra stops on the route. First, the routes loaded into the GPS cover a wider area of the city than bus routes, including more fun stops and even new places and restaurants. Secondly, customers can take coffee breaks anytime or take a detour from the main route without losing navigation.
The Operational Model of GoCar Tours
The operational model of GoCar Tours is easy to understand. To handle bookings and reservations, GoCar Tours uses an online website capable of displaying GoCars availability and taking rental date inputs from users. In addition, the website handles payments, discounts, and add-ons and provides user dashboards to all registered users. For more information on how the GoCar Tours website operates, let’s take a look at the following workflow:
- Users visit GoCars Tours official website and select a city
- They can view all available tours in the city along with the tour price and select their preferred tour
- Next, they will see a booking calendar through which they can see GoCar availability and enter rental date inputs
- Once selected, the ‘Book Now’ button will take them to an optional add-ons screen from where the customers can select any preferred add-ons
- In the next step, customers fill in the billing information and pay the rental charges for booking
- Lastly, customers pickup GoCars on their selected rental dates and enjoy their tour
Building an Online Car Rental Marketplace like GoCar Tours
To build a car rental marketplace like GoCar Tours, you need a software technology that can help you facilitate and manage car rental operations. There are several ways to get your hands on such software technology:
- Build a car rental marketplace from scratch
- Build a car rental marketplace using low-code solutions
- Using readymade car rental software
- Integrating a third-party API on your existing website
Let’s discuss each of these options in brief:
- Developing a Car Rental Marketplace from Scratch: While this option does make sense, it is the traditional method for web development. Developing a car rental website from scratch will be very costly and time-consuming and thus, it is only suitable for enterprise-level businesses or for entrepreneurs requiring their car rental website to be developed on a very specific technology.
- Building a Car Rental Marketplace with Low Code Solutions: Better than custom development and also cost-effective. However, finding a reliable customizable solution can be difficult, and customization charges can be very high in the North American region.
- Using Readymade Car Rental Software: Readymade car rental software are the most practical option. They come with all essential features right out of the box and don’t necessarily require any additional customization. Furthermore, they are already tested and tried and can reduce the entire development time frame by up to 90%.
- Integrating Third-Party API: Using this method gives doubtable results as it may not provide complete functionality for operating and managing a car rental business. Moreover, you will need to invest in domain and hosting separately either way.
Build your own Online Car Rental Marketplace Today
The Most Recommended Approach: As per industry experts, the most practical way to build your car rental marketplace is with a readymade no-code software. It is not just our evaluation that made us reach that conclusion, but the no-code solution is also backed by impressive research and statistics that you can find in McKinsey’s Technology Trends report. By 2025, almost 70% of applications will be developed using no-code and low-code tech. Similarly, using a no-code solution also reduces up to 90% of the development time frame.
Features to Look for in a Car Rental Software
Each car rental software can vary in terms of features and performance. However, your readymade solution should have certain essential features to streamline operations on both the front end and back end. These operations can range from helping customers make data-driven decisions and accepting rental preferences of customers to handling payments, managing order fulfillment, and tracking overdue returns.
Let’s take a closer look at the features required to streamline the above-mentioned operations.
- Rental Booking Calendar: (Required for automating bookings and reservations) The rental booking calendar serves 3 primary functions, which are:
- Displaying car availability to customers
- Accepting rental date inputs from customers
- Preventing double booking
While the rental calendar may seem like a simple feature, a good car rental software will have a robust calendar inclusive of certain order settings, such as the minimum rental duration and maximum rental duration.
- Rental Invoicing: (Required for accurate invoicing) Another reason why general eCommerce software cannot be used for conducting car rental operations is complex invoicing. To prepare an invoice for car rental operations, businesses need to calculate certain variables, such as the selected rental dates, selected pricing option (daily, weekly, or monthly), rental security amount, number of vehicles and rental add-ons. Thus, a reliable car rental software will come with a comprehensive rental invoicing system inclusive of all these options.
Read Also: Start an Online Car Rental Business Like Discover Cars
- Request for Quote (RFQ) Management: (Required for handling complex rental orders) Car rental orders can get very large and complex, especially corporate bookings and team outings. These orders can include multiple rental cars of different specifications booked with varying rental add-ons and for different rental durations and delivery locations. On top of that, customers expect corporate discounts. For handling such complex car rental orders, a Request-for-Quote (RFQ) Management module is a must.
- Document Verification: (Required for ensuring safe and secure rental operations) For renting out vehicles, it is important to verify the driver’s license of the customer. Some business owners also prefer verifying identity proof and address-proof documents for safety reasons. For this reason, your car rental software requires a document verification feature.
- Rental Agreement Management: (Required for authorizing terms and conditions) Every car rental business has some terms and conditions that it wants the customers to adhere to. The same are levied by GoCar Tours, which says that customers must not take GoCars uphills, drivers must have a valid driving license, and also includes their cancellation policy. Your car rental software should also allow you to state and mention your terms and conditions in a rental agreement. Customers can eSign this agreement at the time of checkout.
- Rental Security Management: (Required for damage control purposes) Normal wear and tear, such as hardly visible scratches and dirty interiors are expected in car rental operations. However, for major unexpected damages, such as dents, scratches, and broken parts, car rental businesses can collect a rental security amount. When the customer returns the rental car, businesses can inspect it for any damages and reimburse the same from the customer’s rental security amount. Moreover, this feature may also encourage safe driving.
- Tiered Pricing: (Gives pricing flexibility to customers) Certain types of rental cars, such as GoCars are only required for daily rentals. On the other hand, regular cars can be rented out for multiple days, weeks, and months. The rental duration of the cars can also depend on trips, for example, some road trips can be 2 days long while others may last a week. To provide all such options and cost convenience, it is wiser to have a tiered daily, monthly, and weekly pricing system in your car rental software.
- Car Comparison: (Required to help customers make well-informed decisions) On a car rental platform, it can be difficult to select the right car that matches user requirements. For example, while some customers may look for more power, some may want additional features or extra boot space. Every customer can have a different preference for a car. To help them find the most appropriate vehicle for their requirements, you can look for a car comparison feature that automatically creates comparison tables for selected cars. Additionally, the car comparison feature will also help customers in cost estimation and comparing ratings and reviews.
- Rental Add-ons: (Required for enhancing the overall rental experience for customers) In the car rental industry, numerous car rental companies provide rental add-ons to increase convenience for customers. The competition is so fierce that not providing those add-ons can make you lose some market share. On the other hand, rental add-ons can also be used for upselling purposes on a car rental marketplace. Some examples of car rental add-ons that you can offer are driving service, child seats, portable Wi-Fi, toll passes, cool box, soft drinks, pick-and-drop services, etc.
- Order Management: (Required for handling rental car bookings) For complete management of rental bookings, such as viewing new orders, pending orders, order status, transit status, payment status, selected rental add-ons, etc., the car rental business requires end-to-end rental order management features. Similarly, customers also require order management features to view, edit, or cancel their bookings.
- Inventory Management: (Required for handling rental car fleet) Inventory management is the backbone of all rental operations. With good inventory management practices, you can prevent overstocking, understocking and also identify your top-performing vehicles. On a car rental management software, you should look for inventory management features such as unavailability management, overdue returns management, custom stock level alerts for add-ons, COD management, related vehicles and inventory reports.
Explore the Most Feature-Packed Car Rental Software
- Late Returns Management: (Required to encourage timely returns) Late returns in a car rental business often lead to lost opportunity costs as delayed returns affect the order fulfillment capability of the business. This also affects the overall brand reputation and leaves a negative impression in the minds of customers whose rental bookings the business has to cancel. Thus, for encouraging timely returns, recovering lost opportunity costs, and maintaining brand reputation, late returns management features are essential.
- Late Cancellations Management: (Required to recover order processing) In a car rental business, the order processing costs can be very high. They can be inclusive of transiting cars from the main parking yard to the pickup/delivery location, cleaning and inspection, polishing, minor repairs, and even hourly labor costs. If a customer cancels a reservation, all these order processing costs are incurred by the business owner. With proper late cancellations management features, the business owner can set up a proper cancellation policy that allows customers to cancel their bookings more appropriately with some sort of compensation for late cancellations.
- Maintenance Buffer Period: (Required for quality control purposes) Rental cars may require inspection and maintenance after every order. The inspection can include checking out the car for any unexpected damages, such as major scratches and dents on the exterior, stains on the interior, or just checking the mileage covered by the customer. The maintenance checklist can be very long and may consume up to 1-2 days. While the car is under maintenance, it cannot be added back to the inventory. Thus, the maintenance buffer period feature automatically syncs the inventory with all vehicles under maintenance.
- Discounts and Promotions: (For assisting in business growth) Getting more customers is one of the primary objectives of all businesses. Car rental companies are no different. To attract more customers or even compete with other players, discounts and promotions features in a car rental software are essential. These features can include coupon discounts, reward points, rental duration discounts, special prices, percentage discounts, and more.
- Reports and Analysis: (Required for making data-driven business decisions) Insights driven from business data collected over time are very helpful for making important business decisions. Reports and analytics allow business owners to access and analyze data related to bookings and reservations, inventory, top-performing cars, highest-paying customers, consumer behavior, and more. They can also analyze year-over-year growth and come up with formidable business strategies for future growth.
Apart from all the key requirements, such as software technology, business license, domain, and hosting, you can invest in GPS technology as well. GoCar Tours’ value proposition heavily relies on GPS. The technology is important for them as their car rental operations are linked to guided city tours.
While, GPS may not be essential for all car rental businesses, if you still want to provide GPS functionality, you can do it via the following ways:
- Using an API Integration: You can enable GPS functionality on your car rental marketplace by integrating a third-party API, like Google Maps. This method will enable GPS tracking by utilizing the GPS systems present in the customer’s smartphone and may require additional customization in your car rental software.
- Using Dedicated GPS Devices: The other method is purchasing dedicated GPS devices and installing them in your rental cars. Your GPS provider will also provide you with a tracking interface. While this method will keep your cars connected 24/7, it is also more costly than using software-enabled GPS.
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Similar Business Ideas like GoCars Rental
The rental industry is saturated with various rental niches. The car rental niche is one of those leading niches that contribute majorly towards the rental industry’s growth and GoCar Tours is one of the many players in the car rental niche with a unique rental product. There are also two similar business ideas to GoCars Rental:
- Golf Cart Rental
The golf industry in itself is a billion-dollar industry with rising popularity across the globe. Often perceived as a luxury sport, golf attracts players from high-income groups and every golf outing is incomplete without golf carts. These carts are similar to GoCars and can be provided by both golf courses and third-party vendors. In recent years, new trends have developed where resorts, lakes, and other recreational spaces also use golf carts within their private areas for micro-mobility purposes. This indicates a huge scope of business in launching a golf cart rental business in multiple regions.
- Segway Rentals
For visualization, Segway is a large hoverboard with a handle and self-balancing mechanism. Just like GoCars, Segways are recreational vehicles whose popularity and demand are increasing in various cities across the nation. In San Francisco, Segway rentals are also the direct competitors of GoCar Tours. The benefit of launching a Segway rental business is that it is more cost-effective than launching a car rental business. On the flip side, as Segways can only be used for short trips and cannot help you beat the traffic, their consumer base is smaller and may stay restricted to the Gen Z population
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GoCar Tours is an innovative car rental business with a unique value proposition. The main reason behind the popularity of the business is its recreational appeal to tourists and citizens alike. While using specially designed cars is not mandatory to recreate the same appeal as GoCar Tours, you do need to find a target region with high tourist activity or a local audience that values recreational experiences. Urban cities, large towns, tourist destinations, or highly interconnected cities (megacities, metropolises, and aerotropolises) serve this purpose accurately.
With the help of marketing and management features available in your car rental software, you can grow and manage daily operations. For the best results, you will also need to focus on many other factors such as Go-to-Market strategy, growth strategy, and pricing strategy. The car rental software will help you in executing these strategies. Lastly, keep updating blogs, banner images, and other promotions on your website to keep visitors engaged and increase business.