Airlines and hotel chains offer lifetime elite status in their program for their most loyal customers, yet rental car agencies don’t. Why?
Lifetime Elite Status
As I have written before, I am on my way to lifetime status with a few carriers and hotels. I find myself about 20% of the way there with Hyatt, 50% with Hilton, 20% with United and 55% with American Airlines. Lifetime elite status rewards years of loyalty and spend with a travel provider usually in tiers.
Offering lifetime status guarantees the traveller that they will enjoy the perks and benefits of their loyalty even after their road warrior days are over. It also gives super-travellers a secondary goal to drive incremental revenue after they have achieved their status for the year.
Hotels and airlines generally require the activity of about ten years of highly active, top-tier loyalty to obtain a minimum lifetime status, 20 years for those that are active but not weekly long haul flights, and not essentially living in hotels.
None Publish Lifetime Status
While there have been mixed reports of random awards of lifetime status for some members, there are no published tiers nor offers. It’s odd to me that the big three rental car companies, Avis, Enterprise and Hertz (and their subsidiaries) don’t choose to differentiate themselves with regard to adding a long-term status perk.
To qualify for each group’s top tier elite status, a customer would have to rent cars at the following activity levels:
- Avis (doesn’t publish Presidential status requirements) more than $7,000/annually and 25 rentals
- National (Enterprise) Executive Elite requires 25 rentals or 85 paid days
- Hertz President’s Circle requires 20 rentals or $4,000/annually
What Would Lifetime Status Look Like?
National is my preferred car rental company because I get just about whatever I want from what’s available, my preferences are locked in and the service is fast. Hertz has similarly fast service, but some of their policies make me less likely to rent with them as failing to return a car full can cost more than the rental. Avis requires a lot of spend for not a lot of benefits.
Lifetime rental car status should have some of these features:
- Guaranteed availability
- Best available vehicle (outside of speciality/exotic cars)
- Highest earning rate
- One free rental annually
- One free exotic/ultra-premium upgrade annually
- Entry-level status benefits for named companion
Car rentals may be even more competitive than the rest of the travel space. There are still just a few major players (Avis, Enterprise, Hertz) with almost every other brand a subsidiary of one of these three. There is an opportunity for differentiation. Customers need something to strive toward, likewise, brands need a reason to hold onto their best customers. Adding lifetime status would achieve those goals for customers and renters alike.
What do you think? Would you like to see lifetime status added to car rentals? Do you have loyalty to any of them or do you just pick whatever is cheapest/easiest? What other benefits would you like added to a lifetime status?