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How smart mobile assistants are changing the car rental industry

During the last decade the travel and car rental industries have gone through many changes. These changes have been driven mainly by a growing environmental awareness and by technology.

Environmental awareness and technology are expected to be the main drivers of change in these industries for the next decade too. In this article we are going to describe how.

How technology and environmental awareness are changing the car rental industry.

On the on hand, environmental awareness is pushing the global car rental industry to replace more polluting vehicles with greener ones. Diesel cars are slowly but steadily being replaced by cars running on petrol and, especially in the last couple of years, on electricity.

Moreover, in the next 10 years, electric cars are expected to replace even cars running on petrol.

Internal combustion engines will be banned very soon and electric mobility is going to be the new standard in the car rental industry.

On the other hand, car rental fleets are getting increasingly technology-rich and digital-centric.

Services like online real-time booking, GPS navigators or in-car Wi-Fi hotspots, once on-demand ancillaries, are becoming today included-by-default services in every car rental operation.

The list of digital services offered to car rental clients is long and constantly growing.

However, the latest trend in digital services offered by car rentals today seem to be smart mobile assistants.

Let’s see what they are and how they impact the car rental experience both on the client and on the service provider sides.

What are smart mobile assistants

Smart mobile assistants (SMA’s from now on) are mobile devices packed with services that are very useful to car rental clients and, more generally, to travelers.

These devices are very similar to normal smartphones but what differentiates them from the former is that their software and hardware are developed to meet the needs of innovative car rental companies, like AVIS Greece and Autovia and their customers.

So let’s see now what these needs are and how smart mobile assistant services satisfy them.

Smart mobile assistant features and benefits for car rental clients

The following are the main features provided to car rental clients by smart mobile assistants

  • Internet connectivity: when traveling we all want seamless internet connectivity so that we can stay in touch with colleagues, family and friends. Sometimes our smartphone is not enough to provide us with this connectivity either for technical reasons or for data plan limitations. This is where smart mobile assistants come to the rescue as they can be used as mobile Wi-Fi hotspots with unlimited internet connectivity
  • International calls: phone calls can be quite expensive when we roam abroad with our domestic mobile telephony plan. However, when, during our trip, we rent a car equipped with a smart mobile assistant, international roaming phone calls can be made without incurring in extra charges as SMA’s offer them for free.
  • Road assistance: imagine that you’re traveling abroad with a rented car and suddenly it breaks down or you get involved in a car accident. If your car is not equipped with an SMA, calling the road assistance, explaining where you are and getting help (often in a language you don’t speak well or don’t speak at all) can be quite a challenging experience. However, if your car is equipped with an SMA all you need to do to get help is just tap on the road assistance icon. Immediately, your SMA will call the road assistance and send them your gps position so that they find you and assist you promptly.
  • GPS navigation: there’s no need to explain why GPS navigation tools included in SMA’s are must-haves for car rental customers. Just imagine how difficult and time consuming can be driving around a city you’re visiting for the first time or finding an open gas station at night and abroad without a GPS navigator.
  • Travel tips: so you’ve finally reached your holiday destination, you pick-up a car at the car rental desk and you’re ready to discover all the best places to see and things to do. But you don’t know what these places and things are! If your rented car is not equipped with an SMA you can either ask locals for advice or use Google to find some clues. These solutions can often be time consuming and misleading making you lose precious time of your vacation. However, if your rented is equipped with an SMA you’ve got your holiday destination in the palm of your hand as your smart mobile assistant certainly contains a comprehensive travel guide with all the information you need to enjoy your vacation.
  • Utility and safety tips: where can I find an open pharmacy at night? What is the local police emergency number? Where is my country’s embassy located and how do I contact it? These are just a few of the questions you might find yourself asking in case of trouble during a holiday abroad. SMA’s can give you the answers to all these questions as they contain all the information anyone might ever need to face an emergency when traveling.

Smart mobile assistant features and benefits for car rental companies

The following are the main features provided to car rental companies by smart mobile assistants

  • Better communication with clients: SMA’s are equipped with a SIM card and have local phone numbers. Therefore they can be used by car rental managers to communicate with their clients at any time and without violating their privacy as they do not need the clients’ personal mobile numbers to get in touch with them.
  • Better client experience: equipping cars for rent with SMAs provides car rental clients with strong communication tools, a lot of information about their travel destination and absolute peace of mind in case of emergency. As a consequence they are provided with a better overall travel and car rental experience. A better experience means happier clients. Happier clients leave more positive reviews and positive reviews bring in new clients!

The future of car rentals

Smart mobile assistants are just a small (but significant) first step towards a constantly evolving car rental industry. In the next decade, electrification, mass car sharing and self-driving vehicles are going to be the main trends for car rentals. Beyond the next decade, who knows, maybe renting a flying car might be the new trend to watch!

In the meantime, while waiting to experience all this amazing change, the best thing you can do is rent the car you like, get in the driver’s seat, fasten your seatbelt and activate your smart mobile assistant. You’re going to love the way you travel with it!

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As predicted by world’s leading virogists , after the initial covid-19 outbreak, a second pandemic wave has followed in autumn 2020. Today we’re right in the middle of this wave, we can’t predict when it will end and experts say it might be followed by a third one.

Governments and health organizations have taken new measures in an effort to flatten the contagion curve. These measures have inevitably put the world economy in difficulty for a second time and, as during the first pandemic wave, one of the most affected by the covid-19 industries was again the hospitality industry.

Travel restrictions, national anti-contagion measures and the fear of being infected have practically eliminated all flows of leisure or business travelers. As a consequence, hotel bookings, as during the first pandemic wave, have collapsed again and hotel companies all over the world have gone into crisis.

However, in every crisis there are hidden opportunities and during this second pandemic wave, the biggest opportunity that emerged for hoteliers was that of covid hotels.

What is a covid hotel?

Covid hotels are accommodation facilities where covid-19 infected people, who do not need hospitalization or are asymptomatic, can quarantine until they until they get over the infection. These people cannot be hospitalized, as they would occupy precious hospital beds needed by severe covid-19 patients, and cannot either return to their homes, as they would risk infecting their cohabiters and loved ones.

man in quarantine for covid 19
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

This is why local health organizations and governments have requisitioned hotels in order to transform them in quarantine facilities that can help hospitals optimize their bed capacity and covid-19 infected citizens transition into normal life without the risk of infecting their peers.

A new business opportunity for hoteliers

Covid hotels represent a new big business opportunity for hoteliers affected by the recent pandemic crisis.

Hoteliers who decide to transform their hotels into covid-hotels can keep generating revenue until the pandemic crisisi has ended and tourism starts recovering again. However, managing a covid-hotel is not as simple and straightforward as managing a leisure or business oriented hotel.

Image by Markus Distelrath from Pixabay

Covid hotel clients are people who cannot leave their rooms, cannot come into physical contact with other people or with hotel employees and therefore they need food&beverage delivered to them daily as well as good phone and internet connectivity in order to communicate with their loved ones and work remotely.

It’s easy to imagine that, today, there are no hotels built keepin a covid-19 crisis in mind. That’s why most hotels are not organised to meet covid-19 safety measures and quarantined people needs.

For example, today most hotels will find really hard providing their clients with a 24.7 fast internet connection as well as with an efficient real-time food&beverage ordering&delivery system. Imagine how much a hotel’s internet connection can slow down when all its guests perform videoconferencing or movie streaming at the same time throughout all the day.

Imagine also how difficult can be for reception employees to receive and dispatch room service orders for breakfast, lunch and dinner for all their rooms at the same time.

Therefore the question arises spontaneously: how can hoteliers overcome the above mentioned difficulties and transform their hotel into a covid hotel in order to adapt their business to the new market scenario and manage to get over the current crisis?

The answer to this question is quite complex. However it can be summed up in 4 words: thanks to Manet technology!

Let’s discover more about this technology in the following paragraphs.

How can Manet technology help covid hotels meet staff and guest needs?

What is Manet?

Manet is an advanced mobile assistant and concierge packed in a smartphone and designed to replace traditional hotel room telephones. Among its features there are unlimited internet connectivity, unlimited worldwide calling, public health and safety tools, 24.7 voice and text communication with hotel reception and advanced service ordering and booking tools allowing on, one hand, hotel guests to have their hotel’s services at their fingertips and, on the other, hoteliers to satisfy guest needs and manage hotel facilities at best.

Manet Mobile Smart Travel Assistant
Manet smart mobile assistant and digital concierge

So let’s see how these features can provide fine solutions to covid hotel needs.

Digital communication and entertainment

Each Manet device works as a very fast wifi internet hot spot. Therefore, covid hotels equipped with Manet can provide each one of their guests with an individual fast and efficient internet connection allowing them to surf the web, perform videoconferencing, work remotely and stream movies or music without experiencing internet connectivity lags and drops.

Food order and delivery

People who quarantine for covid-19 in covid hotels need food delivered directly to their rooms more times per day. With Manet devices, menu and order management become easy and straightforward both for guest and hotel staff as the Manet platform includes a smart food order management system that enhances the guest food ordering experience and facilitates order dispatch on the hotel staff side.

room service delivery
Image by Franck ROCHETEAU from Pixabay

Guest-reception communication

Manet devices include smart voice, video and text communication channels aimed at enhancing guest–reception communications. Guests can choose either to call, videocall or text the reception and receptionists can also send one-to-one or one-to-many push messages to their guests. All these options make communication easy and safe for guests and hotel staff as they can choose the communication channel that best fits their needs and their mood without any physical contact that could increase covid-19 infection spreading.

Easy and constant communication with health professionals and authorities.

Last but not least, Manet devices provide their users with real-time public health notifications, issued by local health authorities, as well as with public safety numbers that can be reached with a simple screen tap. Thanks to Manet devices it is also very easy to find and communicate with hospitals and pharmacies located near every Manet-equipped covid hotel.
Moreover, Manet devices have a built-in function allowing their users to request an in-house doctor visit, book an appointment at the doctor’s studio or even schedule a doctor-video-consultation at their convenience. This way they can have continuous medical assistance and feel safe during quarantine.

To sum up, the second covid-19 wave is a reality we must all deal with. A reality that has created lots of problems to solve as well as new business opportunities for hoteliers, hospitality professionals and covid-19 patients who need to quarantine away from hospitals and from their homes.

Once again, the most important problem solving factor, in this new tough scenario mankind is facing, is the same one that has helped humanity overcome the biggest obstacles encountered in the last decades. This miraculous factor is simply technology!

Article by Athanassios Karaiannis, Digital Marketing Specialist

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