How Much Does it Cost to Make a Car Rental Reservation Аpp Like Hertz’s?
In 1918, a young man named Walter L. Jacobs purchased a small fleet of Model T Fords. He thought that some people would like to get a feel of a car before actually purchasing such a novelty. Or just try it out for a day or two for a fraction of the total price.
The concept took off and nearly 100 years later Hertz still remains one of the world’s largest car rental companies with annual revenue of $273 million.
Yet, Hertz is only one example.
The current market share of car rental companies is estimated at $8,6 billion in the US only, with China coming close second with $1.32 billion in revenues, followed by Germany with $1.30 billion.
It’s safe to assume that the demand is obviously there. And customers no longer just walk into an office and ask for a rental. They want an app for that.
While everyone is trying to build an app like Uber and become the next Uber-of something, you can take another route and aim at disrupting the car rental market. Or merely chipping a share of Hertz clients.
And to make a mobile app for car rental service, you first need to decide on its key features.
Key Features of a Car Rental Reservation App
For starters let’s disassemble the Hertz app functionality:
The app allows two modes: guest and logged in user. It’s a rather smart move, as a lot of people just want to shop around and review the available deals prior to giving any personal information.
When a user wants to register an account within the app, they instantly get re-directed to Hertz main website. From the UX standpoint, however, it’s better to keep the users within the app and create a multi-step sign-up form with larger fields to make typing easier.
Offering social media account integration and registration doesn’t make much sense in this case as you’ll still have to request the user to add their driving license information; address and payment details.
So, what information should user profiles store?
- Past and current car rental reservations.
- Payment details and terms of each reservation.
- Saved payment method for re-bookings and instant payments.
Geo-location Service For Finding The Closest Rentals
Users can either type the name of their city or click the location-tracking button and the app will automatically grab the data.
To implement the latter you can use Core Location SDK and MapKit for an app like Hertz for iOS. And Google Location Services API to do the same job in an Android app, paired with Google Maps Android API.
Next, a user sees a map with the closest rentals neatly pinpointed. By tapping each pin, they can review further useful information about the rental office like opening hours, contact phone, distance to the place and exact address.
Hertz app also suggests driving directions to the location, which can be incredibly handy for people planning to return their rental in another city and searching for the closest open branch. The app also uses geo-data to suggest your current location when you place a rental inquiry and pre-suggests possible return addresses once you start typing your destination.
Bonus feature: A lot of travelers prefer to grab their rentals straight at the airports. Hence, you may want to consider integrating the arrivals database, so that your company reps could easily track if there are any flight delays and when the customer is due to arrive for pickup.
It should take between 120-140 hours for proficient developers to build the mapping and routing functionality.
So, the whole purpose of your app is to make reservations simpler, right?
Hence, it’s worth including the next essential features:
- Calendar integration to choose required rental dates.
- Pick-up and return location.
- Coupon/discount codes.
- For guest users – age group to adjust the custom price quote accordingly.
- Vehicle selection at the available location with prices and details on each model. This tab will eat up the most space as there’s quite a lot of details to include, hence you may want to offer switching to the desktop site version (while saving all the customer details). This feature is called continuity and ensures smoother UX.
- Information on what’s included in the rental rate and what’s not.
- Special conditions if any.
- Checkout form to finalize the reservation inquiry.
- Contact information of the chosen reservation office and your customer service department.
- Free cancellation policy & conditions if you’ll take pre-payments or full payments online. After all, the customer should have some room to wiggle and to receive refunds if their plans suddenly change. Don’t place that responsibility onto your support department and make cancellations simple within the app.
Here’s another cool idea you may consider implementing. Have you heard of the iBeacon technology? The tiny Bluetooth beacons now incorporated both in iPhones and coming as a standalone product.
By taking advantage of the iBeacon technology you can make the entire renting experience even more seamless. All the customer order details will be automatically transmitted to your system once they step inside your beacon fence. Next, they simply grab the keys, insurance and other documents prepared by your rep and can immediately hit the road.
You can take one more step further and build a mobile app for a rental car company, which extends its usefulness beyond merely booking a rental.
After users have picked up the car, you can setup the app to track their rewards balance, offer additional travel information and/or relevant upgrades. To enhance the customer experience even further, you can incorporate a quick survey and ask the users to rent their experience at the rental office and post-trip.
Now apart from the pretty face and design, you’ll need a to connect the app to a powerful back-end, which would pull all the relevant information from your web databases and keep track of the incoming reservations.
Hertz offers in-app payments only for certain locations. In most cases, users will be suggested to pay at the rental office during the pickup.
Which option should you pick for your business?
Supporting in-app payments will certainly add additional lines to the total car rental app development budget. Yet, by allowing users to pay straight through the app you can increase your business revenues.
Customers tend to forget about non-paid reservations or change their minds, leaving your management with a pile of expired rental requests and hours on the phone spent on tracking those no-shows.
If you choose to accept in-app payments, I’d suggest opting for one of the next payment gateways:
- Stripe has a lot of powerful APIs and customization options to suit your overall app design. Supports all major credit cards.
- PayPal’s mobile SDK allows accepting both credit cards and PayPal payments, which are rather popular with mobile users.
- You may also consider accepting Apple Pay and Google Wallet payments as supplementary payment options as those are steadily rising in popularity, especially with the millennial consumers.
If you were up to building a complete Hertz clone, that’s pretty much all the features you’ll need to implement.
So how much does it cost to develop car rental mobile application?
Now, the final app price tag will heavily depend on the amount of user stories the development team will need to solve.
User stories are one-two line descriptions of a certain app action or feature.
For instance, “I want users to receive a map view of closets rentals after typing their location”.
Next, you should understand the size of the team you’ll need to develop a car rental application. For a project similar to the one described above you should consider having the following folks on board:
- 1 UX/UI Designer
- 1 iOS/Android Developer (or both)
- 1 Backend developer
- 1 QA ninja
- 1 Project manager.
This team will be able to complete your project in approximately 3-4 months. You can expect to pay between $35.000 and $85.000 for your app, though the final price will depend on the desired functionality and the number of user stories solved.
Slava Bushtruk is CEO+Founder of Alty, Inc. He’s been in software and app development for nearly a decade with over 75 successful projects under his belt, ranging from startups to enterprise clients. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or shoot a quick hi at firstname.lastname@example.org.