The deal between the online car rental comparison company and the low-cost carrier will allow customers to book their airfare and car rental together on the Tigerair Australia website in one go.
The company was established in 2001 by Steve Sherlock who sold it to Richard Eastes and Peter Thornton in 2004, and the pair built VroomVroomVroom from literally a bedroom business into one of the market leaders for online rental car bookings.
Eastes was a finalist in Business News Australia's Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2011 and has since left the company, handing over to CEO Mike Boyd.
The Tigerair partnership is just the first in a line of potential partnerships for VroomVroomVroom, according to Boyd.
Business News Australia spoke with Boyd about how VroomVroomVroom about the new partnerships and how he plans to deal with competition in the market.
What does the partnership with Tigerair mean for VVV going forward? How will it boost the company?The partnership with Tiger is a significant one for our business because it's been a very long time coming to prove our new business to business capability. It's our first airline integration, into their booking path, it's using all of our latest technology and we've rebuilt our entire booking engine over the last few years.
For us it's not just about the partnership with Tiger, we're very grateful for the partnership and we're really working with a great team over there, but it's also really nice validation of all the hard work of the business over the last few years to see that come to fruition with a major partnership which is really exciting.
You mentioned the business to business program, I was wondering if this so far is just an exclusive partnership with Tiger or you're looking to partner with other airlines or businesses?Not at all yet, this is very much just the beginning. There are other airlines already in discussion, we've also recently rolled out another major partnership with Perth Airport Corporation; we now power all the car rental online for the Perth Airport website for their key distributors giving them access to a customised booking engine which is also white labelled with their branding.
And there are a number of other key partners which we're talking to which effectively we're offering car rental as an ancillary revenue stream to other travel brands, using either our brand or theirs, and we power that solution for them to provide extra value to their customers.
Your company was one of the finalists in our Young Entrepreneur Awards what's happened since then?A lot has transpired in the last 12-18 months for our business. We went through a core technology rebuild, and the reason why: VVV is a 16-year-old business and that is an incredibly long time for an internet based company. We were founded in 2001 and we've been the market leader in car rentals in this part of the world for 16 years which is an incredible feat. So not only have we had the drive to maintain that but also diversify it with other products and other channels like B2B over the years.
In order to do that we needed to rebuild our technology to make it more scalable because as you can imagine the technology from 2001 is not as applicable in 2017 so we had to legacy our systems.
We've rolled out new iPhone apps for our VVV brand. We also own carhire.com.au which is another flagship brand in this part of the world so we've got a new app out for it as well.
We are expanding our footprint into the USA and Canada. We've been there for five or six years already but we're growing that business. We're growing our business into the UK and Europe as well. Really in the last few years we've transformed this company from a Brisbane based start-up to a global travel conglomerate. We now have staff in about 12 countries and operating around the clock 24 hours a day.
Do you ever get to sleep or have any time off?!No! I'm not allowed to. I spend a lot of time travelling, I only spend about half the year in Australia, spend a lot of time in Asia and in the US and the UK, so last year I caught about 100 flights I tracked it I've got some stats and New Year last year I looked at my flight stats and I had spent over 16 days or two and a bit weeks actually flying last year. I was in the air for 16 days. I spent a lot of time on airplanes and criss-crossing the world growing the business and that has been fundamental for the growth we've seen in the last few years.
What's in the pipeline for the company right now?We are now expanding into a small group of companies all under my ownership and control. VVV is the flagship in car rental and it's expanding in the B2B partnerships.
We have an insurance company called Hiccup Insurance which launched three years ago and it's a specialist rental vehicle excess insurer. It's complementary to what we do; it insures the liability when you rent a car in case you have an accident and it's superior to what the suppliers offer, it gives you much better coverage for a cheaper price. We launched that three years ago and it's been very successful.
Are you planning on expanding any further internationally?I think if we can do something sustainably, if we can do something profitably and continue to add value for our customers then we'll do it.
What we're not interested in doing is commoditising the industry and spending our last dollar trying to win a customer. It's a very, very competitive industry that we work in and we compete with some of the biggest players in travel: we compete against Expedia and Retnalcars.com which is owned by Priceline Group multibillion dollar multinationals and we maintain our number one share in this part of the world because we've been around a long time and we've got a great brand. More than 50 per cent of all our bookings are made by a repeat customer, so we've got very strong loyalty, and we genuinely care about our customer's experience.
Is the company concerned about ride-sharing apps like Uber disrupting the rental car model seeing as many customers consider it to be quite an economic solution?I'm not particularly concerned. The industry is concerned, but because we're digital we're already well ahead of the car rental industry in terms of innovation and our ability to react to changes. Whereas the owners of the cars and all the infrastructure are more likely to be disrupted before we are.
Uber and ride sharing is particularly good for urban environments: short journeys in high traffic areas where parking is expensive. Whereas rental cars do most of their business picking up from airports, and driving for four or five days and a week or more. It's a completely different type of journey, where you're perhaps driving to visit a friend, going on a leisure holiday, or going on a road trip.
I think something that will have a bigger impact on the industry will be autonomous vehicles. That's still a few years away but growing quickly. Again, I think we're well positioned in terms of our technology to still be a huge source of demand. We have a huge number of customers that are demanding vehicles when they need them and whether or not they're meeting with a static car at a car rental counter, or a dynamic car that drives to you to pick you up, we can still work with that.
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