Car Rental Made Easier: Enterprise

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A Fast and Easy Rental Car Experience

Mark Orland at the Enterprise counter near LAX. Max Hartshorne photos.

Mark Orland at the Enterprise counter near LAX. Max Hartshorne photos.

Renting a car is often fraught with anticipation, and in some cases, with fear. That’s because the average American traveler who is not going on a business trip is not terribly experienced with the ins and outs of renting a car, and there are lots of factors that can create nervousness as we dutifully shuttle to the car rental locations after getting off a plane in the airport.

We recently traveled to Big Bear Lake and Ventura, California from our Massachusetts home. We needed to get around Los Angeles and anyone knows, that means having our own car. We had two large suitcases and plenty of other carry-on luggage, so we were hoping that it would all be easy.

Booking online

I booked ahead with Enterprise Rent-a-car on line, using their pretty easy to navigate website. As someone who spends a lot of time looking at websites both for their content and to book travel, I always can appreciate when the first interaction with a company–the website–works the way it should and doesn’t make things difficult.

Self-service kiosks in a Los Angeles Enterprise location.

Self-service kiosks in a Los Angeles Enterprise location.

The web site is easy to figure out–I was given a choice of 42 countries to select from, and I punched in my dates of travel and chose Los Angeles airport from the dropdown that gave me hundreds of cities in the US and every major airport. So far nothing had me confused or feeling like I should bail out, which surprisingly, is the way many airline and on-line travel agency sites make me feel.

Just like I do every time I travel, I made it a point to join the Enterprise Plus loyalty club, which required filling out a short form. One small blessing–they are happy with a simple six-digit password. How many times have I struggled to make password work, it’s so often not enough characters, or needs more numbers, symbols. It becomes so hard to create one that works. This time–no problem.

Why a License Number Needed?

I filled in my drivers license number and then noticed a link to a question: “why is a license number needed?” Good point, as is the company’s answer.

“In all states since a valid license is required, providing it in this application will speed up the process at the rental counter.” Works for me!

The rest of the form was a breeze, at the end a picture appeared on the screen with my account number.

I never use the plastic cards that are sent to me by loyalty clubs, instead I take all of my airline, hotel and car rental membership numbers and put them on one card in my wallet. So I was good to go!

The Stopwatch

I could have used the self-service kiosks that are plentiful in the Los Angeles LAX Enterprise location, but instead, I got in a very short line. Then I began timing to see how long it would actually take to get out the door.

And here is where I really noticed a big difference: While the application to rent a car is full of things to check off, and places to sign, for some reason every time I’ve gotten a rental car it has been a long wait. Either there are lots of people ahead of you, or it just takes longer to fill out the form, even with the clerk filling it in. They also usually pepper you wtih questions and options and upsells, and it just feels like it all could be much easier. It can be, indeed.

2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante. How about renting one of these next time?

2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante. How about renting one of these next time?

Whatever the reason, as I stared my stopwatch, agent Mark Orland appeared before me, smiling and quickly bringing up my reservation. I didn’t even have the number, all he needed was my name. In exactly one minute 45 seconds, I was handed the keys to a 2014 Nissan Altmima, (the same model car I drive at home, but newer!) and we were walking out the door.

In talking to Mark, I learned that Enterprise is now the world’s largest car rental company, and they have rental offices all over Europe. So this same attention to service and ease-of-use can be experienced if I wanted to rent a car in France, Spain, UK, Germany, Italy or Ireland.

Enterprise Exotic Cars

But first, my friend Jack Dunphy had to spend a little time looking over the exotic cars offered for rent in the LAX Enterprise location. In an indoor parking lot, the Exotic Car Rental Collection is a tempting bunch of familiar marques–BMW, Jaguar, Cadillac Escalades and even Aston Martin. As the website states,
‘turn heads, hug curves’ which only a James Bond inspired car like the Aston is guaranteed to do. How about a Bentley or a Maserati? Both brands are also on offer, but if you have to ask how much, you probably can’t afford one.

But Jack and I were happy with our very low mileage clean Nissan Altima, and I was interested in all of the electronics that have taken over the dashboard. My 2006 model Altima has none of the gizmos that tell the driver what song is playing, how many miles until empty, and even that your iPhone is now jacked into the stereo.

After a friendly woman checked our car’s mileage and wished us a safe journey, were were eager to get on the road to Big Bear Lake, but first, we had to find a Los Angeles institution for lunch. That would be California’s famous In-and-Out Burger, a chain that specializes in just four food items, burgers, fries, shakes and soft drinks. The next time I’ll know to tell them to leave the raw onions out of my double burger.

This post was done in partnership with GoNOMAD advertiser Enterprise Rent-a-Car but they had no input on the content. All opinions are my own.

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Max Hartshorne
Max Hartshorne has been the editor and publisher of GoNOMAD Travel in South Deerfield Mass since 2002. He worked for newspapers and other sales positions for 23 years until he finally got what he wanted, and became the editor at GoNOMAD. He travels regularly, enjoys publishing new writers, and watching his grandchildren grow up.