Why Do Millennials Love Rental Cars So Much?

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Though J.D. Power has conducted its North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study since 2006, satisfaction scores have never soared so high until this year. According to the results, millennials (born 1977 to 1994) made the difference in 2015 with overwhelmingly positive reviews for rental agencies. A look at the indicators in the study hints at why millennials (or Gen Y) are so happy about the services, with increased convenience and lower costs topping the list.

The overall score for rental companies hit 798 in 2015. Powering the record was the 819 score from millennials, higher than every other age group. Shuttle buses and fans were among the biggest areas of improvement from previous years, while pricing and ease of pickup were other areas for major satisfaction gains.

J.D. Power notes that car rental agencies have been out to make millennials happy with their experiences because of the demographic’s penchant for leaving online reviews. (You can call it the trash-talk effect, if you like.) Their data shows that 47% of Gen Yers leave online reviews, far more than Gen Xers (27%) or Baby Boomers (10%).

Whatever surveys the rental companies have been conducting are working, but the newfound maturity of millennials seem to be playing into the numbers as well. Satisfaction with business travel is up in 2015, possibly reflecting a coming of age for the generation. Advances in technology likely added to the high scores Gen Y renters gave the industry as well. Features like navigation services and heated seats were prime movers when pointing to higher perceived value in vehicles.

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A J.D. Power’s representative noted that an increase in financial means as well as experience could have played a role in the top marks from millennials. As Gen Y rents more premium cars than it had in the past, satisfaction rises accordingly. The same trend holds for members now in jobs where the rental is paid for by their company.

On the other hand, expectations may be different for millennials who are less likely to own cars than previous generations. As we learned in surveys taken about car sharing, members of Gen Y have a new way of looking at ownership (i.e., they don’t need it). Compared to a Baby Boomer who may have a Cadillac parked in the driveway at home, millennials are less likely to be disappointed by the Nissan Sentra waiting for them at the agency.

Before rental companies start dancing in the end zone, they should take a look at the least satisfied of the bunch: Gen Z (born 1995 to 2004). Though this group is hardly old enough to get behind the wheel, they recorded the lowest satisfaction scores of any generation and are probably more likely than millennials to vent on social media about a bad experience. Rental agencies may have won the battle with Gen Y, but the war is far from over.

Source: J.D. Power