WHY IT RATES: Renting a car in Europe just got easier. Those traveling to the continent will be able to choose the vehicle they want, select desired upgrades and even extend the duration of their rental, all through the Avis mobile app.—Jessica Zickefoose, TravelPulse Associate Editor
Avis Budget Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CAR) today announces a new agreement with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Group to connect more than 22,000 Fiat vehicles in Avis Budget Group’s European fleet.
A connected vehicle can allow Avis customers to manage their entire rental experience through the Avis mobile app, including choosing the exact vehicle they want, selecting an upgrade and extending the duration of their rental from their phones. Even returning a rental vehicle is automated with connected technology, allowing customers to drop off their vehicles through a simple tap in the Avis app.
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In addition, these connected vehicles enable lock and unlock technology, providing a straight-to-vehicle, self-serve option for customers.
The connected FCA vehicles will provide valuable telemetry data in real-time, including mileage, fuel level and updates on the mechanical condition of the car. Connectivity also enables vehicles to get back on the road faster, giving increased availability for rental customers as Avis Budget Group fleet managers can process the information they need more quickly.
FCA is providing a ready to use telematics solution that offers a simplified and efficient way for Avis Budget Group to connect vehicles, reducing typical cost and complexity of implementing aftermarket solutions on its own.
The partnership follows a recent announcement from Avis Budget Group as it surpassed the 200,000 connected car threshold globally. Its partnership with FCA now means that an additional 22,000 Fiat vehicles in the Avis Budget Group fleet will be connected, significantly contributing towards its goal of a fully connected global fleet.
“At the end of 2019, we surpassed the milestone of 200,000 connected vehicles in our global fleet. This partnership with FCA group, adding a further 22,000 connected vehicles in Europe, is a step towards having a fully connected global fleet,” said Valerie Chenivesse, VP of Fleet Services – International, Avis Budget Group. “Connectivity allows us to deliver a more on-demand and streamlined experience for our customers, by helping to increase efficiencies as a business.
FCA said that it is very happy to offer a new service to Avis Budget Group and help optimizing its customer experience and productivity. We consider the connected vehicles as part of our strategy and look forward to enriching this product thanks to our collaboration with Avis Budget.
SOURCE: Avis Budget Group press release
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Everything Amtrak is Doing to Protect Travelers
As travel restrictions are lifted, Americans are looking to hit the road again, and Amtrak is ready to provide a safe environment to protect the experience.
Amtrak has operated as an essential service throughout the coronavirus outbreak despite some routes being reduced or suspended, but an increase in demand in the coming weeks is expected to mean additional services.
The changes start as soon as customers book their travel, as Amtrak is waiving all change and cancellation fees for reservations made by August 31. The company also announced it would limit ticket sales to allow for physical distancing while traveling.
At Amtrak stations, travelers will notice enhanced cleaning protocols, social distancing guidelines, mandatory face coverings for all employees and customers, and passengers being asked to arrive only 30 minutes before departure.
“Now more than ever, we stand ready to play a critical role as our nation recovers,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to offer vital transportation services in a way that prioritizes employee and customer safety and well-being.”
Rail riders should be ready for a contact-free travel experience, with Amtrak now only accepting cashless payments, encouraging boarding with eTickets and sending gate and track information via the company’s mobile app.
Once on board the train, passengers will be encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, required to wear facial coverings while on trains or thruway buses and asked to follow the conductors’ instructions on where and when they can disembark to minimize crowding.
For travelers looking for a bite to eat, Amtrak’s cafe service will be available as carryout only and the company is temporarily offering flexible dining service in the dining or lounge car on all long-distance routes.
For added protection, protective plastic barriers are being installed at cafe countertops.
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