From last week:
In watching the video below, which was one of our reading assignment last week. The speaker Rachel Botsman discussed several great businesses and platforms that based on trust and technology. This makes me keep thinking about an instant car rental platform called Getaround. This company’s business model is also based on people’s trust and technology.
The traditional way
Many of us probably have some experience of renting a car, there are many traditional car rental companies like Enterprise, Sixt, Hertz, and U-Haul. I personally have rent a car with all of the companies listed above. These car rental businesses usually require an appointment before picking up the car, and when the customers come for their cars, the agent will first ask you some personal information, then recommend the insurance, explain the payment, do some paperwork and finally hand you the key. The process of renting a car in this traditional way has some disadvantages. First, most of these companies rent their cars on a daily basis, so if you want to rent a car for only 3 hours, they still charge you as you have rent a full day. Second, because some agents don’t want you to choose cars, there are not many car options. Last but not least, the traditional way of renting cars is very time-consuming and inconvenient for customers.
Getaround & How it works?
Getaround launched to the public in May 2011, the company currently operates rentals in Boston, Chicago, New Jersey, Portland, and San Francisco. Getaround uses the economic principle of collaborative consumption, which you can use others car when they aren’t using it, or you can rent your car to strangers while you’re stuck at work. It has a mobile App, which makes car rental extremely easy.
The app will ask for your payment card and your driver license in the first place, and you will be ready to rent. When you need a car, you just use its App and search the cars nearby. There are many different cars available. You can choose your favorite one or just pick one that is close to you. Compare to the traditional car rental method, you don’t have to go to a specific store and fill different paperwork with the agent. This saves you a lot of time. Besides, Getaround’s fee is more reasonable and on an hourly basis. If you want a car to go for a 2.5-hours shopping in Costco, you only have to pay for the 2.5 hours.
The traditional car rental requires the agent to hand you the car key in person. This step is also time-consuming and there is the possibility which the customer might lose the keys. However, this is not a problem in Getaround. When you find your reserved car, you don’t have to meet the owner and pick up the keys. The Getaround CarKit key allows you to unlock/ lock the car from your App, so basically, your smartphone or smartwatch will be the car key during your rental time. There are also many useful features in the app, for example, if you feel you need extra time, you can request to extend the ride.
The owner and the renter don’t have to worry anything, because Getaround itself provides insurance for every renter. Compare to Enterprise and Sixt, the insurance is not included in the final price, but the agent will highly recommend you to buy one, incurring extra cost.
Once the car is returned, the owner leaves the renter a review, so the community knows whether the renter is good or not. The renter also can leave a feedback on the car, so the other drivers know the condition of the car. This review function just works as Airbnb and Uber, where every user has access to the reviews, and this helps the users to trust others on the platform. Getaround also has the driver license from every renter so the car-owners will feel comfortable to give their cars to strangers because car-owners trust the platform itself.
In Airbnb, people rent out the house or room they don’t use. In Getaround, people rent out the cars they don’t use. It’s interesting that the idea behind these two platforms are similar and both based on one important element —— trust.
I personally have never used the App, but I think I will definitely give it a try someday, I do think the platform benefits both the car-owner and the renter. The owner can just make extra income without putting any effort. The App also makes the renter’s life easier. I think the trust shifting in the digital age creates a lot of unknown potentials and opportunities. Companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Getaround did well in capitalizing this trust shift. What other businesses or platforms do you think have capitalized such trust?