Avis app needs to try harder

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While Avis loyalists will appreciate access to member benefits via the company’s iPhone application, those seeking the best possible deal for a rental care are better off going someplace else. 

Careful trip planners often leisurely cobble together the best package of low airline, hotel, and car rates from travel websites well before any trip.  But business travel can be chaotic, with the luxury of travel-search-engine technology yielding to urgent shifts in itinerary.  For car-rental customers on such short notice, Avis has designed a web application that directs customers to its rental database. 

The Avis application itself is well-designed.  Starting at the top of a page and using an evocative odometer calendar interface, the Avis app allows customers to quickly scroll through location, time, and car options.  Pictures of different cars with prices appear on the latter screens as the user fills in the desired specifications.  The application is up to a minute faster than using a general travel website. 

The key issue is whether the Avis app saves money.  For most customers, it does not.  While we found no difference in price between using the Avis app and using travel websites for Avis cars, Avis was never the lowest cost provider.

Of course, Avis is well-established with many corporate alliances, affinity programs, and discount codes.  For those who use such benefits or who have staunch loyalty to Avis, the application is intuitive and effective.  But for anyone else, I suggest using your iPhone to hit some of the travel sites.  A few more minutes perusing the variety of travel sites will typically yield significant savings.

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