RM Tips and Strategy

How WeYield and ForwardKeys help car rental companies at airports to get their business off the ground

Emmanuel Scuto
January 18, 2022
The partnership with ForwardKeys has delivered the Air Analytics module integrated into WeYield's apps to provide its car rental users with a clear view of future demand. This helps them to make the right investment, fleet management and pricing decisions.

WeYield is the car rental revenue management specialist. Its applications provide car rental companies with the relevant information to have a clear view of their business and make the right decisions on investment, fleet management and pricing: inventory, upcoming bookings, competition data, etc.

ForwardKeys is a travel data analytics company, offering businesses in the tourism industry an understanding of who is travelling, where and when. It does so with the most extensive dataset globally of airplane tickets booked, which provides insights into the future bookings to understand how the audiences will be travelling.

The collaboration between WeYield and ForwardKeys started with an idea: everyone books their flight before making any other travel arrangement. If car rental revenue managers could see the number of flights already booked to their destination, they would be able to anticipate their future business!

WeYield has therefore integrated the air travel data collected by ForwardKeys into its platform and now offers its clients the Air Analytics option. With edifying results.

The state of play: a lack of visibility

Many car rental companies suffer from a lack of visibility on their future business. This situation generates a lot of stress. They have to invest in vehicle purchases in advance. These heavy investments commit them for several years, with no guarantee of amortization.

To anticipate their activity, various solutions are available to them. For example, they can study medium or long-term trends. They rely, for example, on the market trends provided by the tourist offices. If a country develops a tourism partnership with France, it is likely that the number of travelers from that country will increase. This is a reassuring element. On the other hand, certain information about the country prompts caution: social, security or health problems.

A second, more pragmatic, solution is to observe the number of seats available on routes to the relevant airport. The opening of new flights increases the potential in the destination. But there is no certainty that the flights will be full.

A third solution is to look at micro, more operational elements, namely the portfolio of activities. Since looking only at one's own business is insufficient, rental companies can approach car rental or hotel associations to get a broader view. However, given the legal risk of collusion, it is rare that this data is shared.

It is clear that these three approaches are limited. They only offer random trends, they are based on intuition, without enough concrete elements.

The answer: a yield management solution that integrates flight data

Why should we be interested in air data? Because air travel is a predominant element that will define the demand for  accommodation and car rental. When a traveler organizes a trip, whether for business or pleasure, it is the flight reservation that often takes priority. It determines the date of departure and represents a significant part of the cost of the trip. Customers therefore start by booking their flight, then their accommodation and finally their car hire.

In 2020, WeYield entered into a partnership with ForwardKeys, who gather data on tickets booked via travel agencies or airlines worldwide. This includes future bookings for over 6 months ahead, and the possibility to compare the booking situation with previous years.

Before implementing this data in WeYield’s solution, a correlation study was carried out. Comparing cars on-rent with the number of people that was staying in the destination based on their arrival and departure dates, showed an almost perfect harmony. This meant that travelers staying in a destination for at least 2 days are highly likely to rent a car upon arrival at the airport.

Via the ForwardKeys API, WeYield developed the tool to make it as easy for the yield managers to read and understand the future air arrivals.

In detail, WeYield customers who have opted for the Air Analytics option can compare real-time flight data with their confirmed booking data. This allows them to anticipate their future business. If there is a high demand for flight bookings at their destination, they can expect the associated rental volume to arrive later. This reduces their uncertainty about the future and gives them peace of mind.

Based on the results obtained, which confirmed the initial hypothesis of correlation between the two data sources, the computer scientists started the development and adopted two ways of reading.

  1. A vision of the correlation between the days rented (on rent) and the stay of passengers at the destination (on stay). Since we have the arrival and departure dates, we know the length of stay. The two curves are compared and we can therefore anticipate the future state of demand.
  2. Research on peak arrivals. Indeed, it is the departure date that determines the rental price. By aggregating the peak arrivals of passengers with the peak departures of cars, we can know the potential activity for a given departure day.

The benefit: an optimal solution for car rental revenue managers

This solution allows car rental companies to identify how busy it's going to be on a given day.

They can therefore optimize the use of their fleet and also plan the staff needed for the operations. If they want to achieve good profitability, it may not be tactically relevant to accept all rental requests. If they know that customers will come in later, they can hold back sales or raise their prices to push customers looking for low prices to the competition. In this way, they will sell at a time when customers are willing to pay more for their rental, as the departure date approaches.

Results on the average price sold:

The above data, extracted at the end of November, compares the data for the Caribbean market in general with that recorded for one Air Analytics user client vs. two non-users (client 2 and client 3).

  • Client 2 and 3 have average prices of €39 to €44 and are already closed (client 2) or still open (client 3)
  • Client 1 is still open for business 1 month before the start of the Christmas holidays at an average price 30-40% higher than the other users.
The Air Analytic module that we use every day gives us much more visibility into the future to anticipate booking trends further in advance rather than just monitoring our booking portfolio. I can't do without it anymore." Savvas Spyrou, Europcar Cyprus

Thanks to the partnership with ForwardKeys, the Air Analytics module integrated into WeYield's apps provides its users with a clear view of future demand. This helps them to make the right investment, fleet management and pricing decisions.

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Emmanuel Scuto
January 18, 2022

I am CEO and founder of WeYield with 25 years of passion about revenue performance acceleration in the revenue management field (hotels, theme park, car rental), I created WeYield in 2012.I am here to help car rental operators who want to change in piloting their business with more agility and freedom while improving their performance. I like being able to participate in the transformation of the organizations. Working with WeYield's revenue managers and engineers gives me a lot of energy to create new features and approaches.

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