BUDGET International's UK marketing team is to push colleagues in the US to reduce rental rates in destinations favoured by the British after a comparison of prices for Travel Weekly showed that the car-rental company is out of step with rivals (see page 44).
Sales and marketing director Roddy Graham said:"We are aware our US rates are too high and are disappointed with the support we get from the States in trying to bring them down."
He said that while it was important to compete on price and size of network, it was not enough. As a result, the company also addresses environmental issues by offering gas and electric-powered cars in the UKand France and a car club in Edinburgh to set itself apart from competitors.
Budget is also looking to the retail sector to grow its business and has made major changes to its Team Budget incentives programme, launched in 1995.
"This is not a relaunch, but more a reintroduction to keep Team Budget at the forefront of agents' minds," said Graham.
The main change is in the choice of rewards, which are more lifestyle oriented. Rewards are earned by individual agents or groups of agents at one location by collecting points awarded for bookings made through a global distribution system.
The new rewards include an aromatherapy massage, a day at a health spa, white-water rafting, 4x4 driving, Ray Ban sunglasses or the chance to spend a day as a radio DJ. Team Budget agents now also get their own discount card giving them 20% off car rental.
Graham said the selling performance of Team Budget members was up to 40% better than non-members. Around 75% of travel agent revenue is generated by Team Budget members.
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