Rental cars are like Slim Jims – you know – you either like them or you don’t as the commercial says. Well in the rental car world they are either a blessing or a curse when it comes to trade show travel.
It is extremely important to understand the city you are traveling to when you need to decide whether to get a rental car or not. At Exhibit Edge our supervisors would prefer to have the rental car so that we have the mobility to meet any last minute needs or client requests in the show city. With that said, there are some cities that you just do not want a rental car. I am just going to name a few cities that a rental car is not practical. They are New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. There are many cities that I would suggest getting a rental car. They are Las Vegas, San Antonio, Reno, Orlando, and Phoenix.
So what are the factors that go into these decisions? Again I say you need to do the math. Here are some of the factors.
- Cost of the rental car. In cities like Orlando, there is a high concentration of rental cars and companies who are competing for your business. Rental car rates are very low in comparison to other destinations.
- Cost of parking. In cities like San Francisco the cost of parking can be as high as $75 to $100 each day when you factor the cost of the hotel you are staying at which can run $40 to $50 dollars a day and then the cost of the convention center parking facility. Most parking facilities do not have in and out privileges so God help you if the show has staggered hours where you would like to go back to the hotel for a break.
- Rapid transit availability. This is an acquired skill as you become familiar with the transit systems of each city. As an exhibit supervisor I travel to many different show cities and use the mass transit systems or taxis. I became fully liberated once I learned, through a friend how to use the New York subway system. It is amazing that for 2 dollars and 50 cents you can go anywhere in the city one way. I also learned the bus transit system in Honolulu and can commute from one end of Waikiki Beach to the other or get to the Malls or Home Depot and back for just $2 or $3 dollars each way.
- Total cost of taxis and hotel shuttles verses getting a rental car and paying parking. Here you have to look at the distance from the airport to your destination to know how much a taxi will cost. It may cost $40 to $50 like in San Antonio or Orlando to get from the airport to the show destination. In these cities parking is free at many hotels and minimal at the convention center. In this situation it may be a good time-saver and use of a rental car.
Getting a rental car can be a blessing and a curse which means you really need to do the math and check the logistics of the area you are traveling too. Online travel sites are great for getting excellent prices for rental cars. Just be aware that getting a rental car at the terminal verses an off-site location may be worth the extra few dollars to avoid the hassle and lost time.
As always, please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about EXHIBITOR LOUNGE.COM. We will see you next week. Until then, I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.