Budget breaks into Vietnam

12 Oct 2008

Vietnam’s car rental business has received a boost with the recent entry of Budget, a development that is expected to pave the way for other international players.

“We’re the first car rental company of global standards to start up operations,” said Walter Blocker, CEO of Gannon, Budget’s Vietnam franchise holder. “Until now, it’s been ‘mom and pop’ outfits whose quality has been inconsistent or hotels whose business is not in renting out cars.”

Currently, car rental giants Avis and Hertz still do not have a presence in Vietnam.

Blocker said a liberalising economy was fast providing business opportunities for car rental brands. Besides corporates needing the regular airport transfers, luxury travellers to Vietnam were also a growing niche as were returning overseas Vietnamese nationals as well as local expatriates.

Dan Cohen, Budget Vietnam general manager, told Business Traveller Asia-Pacific: “We are trying to be more than a car rental service and more than providing just a car and chauffeur. We work with our clients discussing their itineraries and activities, after which, we brief our drivers.

“This way, visitors don’t have to be involved in the transport details and they are free to concentrate on their work or holiday.”

Cohen, who has a hotel background, is introducing perks such as cold towels and bottled water in the vehicles to enhance the experience. He added: “We are very strict about the type of drivers we hire. Many of our staff have had an average of 10 years driving, for local expats or multinational companies. And they’re trained in customer service basics such as discretion and the like.”

As for self drives in Vietnam, Gannon CEO Blocker said the time was not yet right, “but it will come at some point”.

Gannon, which is involved in manufacturing and distributing consumer goods such as Johnny Walker and L’Oreal, first set up shop in Vietnam in 1994 when the country was opening up to world markets.

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Margie T Logarta

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