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TORONTO — Turo is like the Airbnb of car rentals, allowing travellers to bypass the rental counter and deal directly with local car owners, hopefully saving a few bucks in the process.
The company launched in 2009 and now has cars available in more than 4,000 cities across the U.S., U.K. and Canada, with over 800 unique makes and models to choose from, from budget to specialty cars.
“Turo is like Airbnb because they are both clearly a part of the sharing industry, providing travel services. But what we are doing is new and innovative, and the key difference is the safety and protection we offer our users and owners because we have partnered with insurance companies,” says Cedric Mathieu, Director, Canada at Turo.
Mathieu says the main reasons to use their service are price, selection and convenience. They estimate the cost is 35% cheaper than other rental services. A wide range of cars from budget to high-end luxury Mercedes and Teslas are available. Plus, the owner will drop the car off at the airport or your hotel, teach you about the car, and even offer local tips.
Mathieu believes that Turo also adds something extra special: “We believe that with Turo, the car rental becomes part of the holiday experience and becomes part of the fun. You get to pick the perfect car for your experience, meet the owner and get much more of a personal touch.”
The main challenge that Turo faces is changing people’s behavior and getting them used to driving someone else’s car, or lending out their own.
“There is a little bit of psychological fear there with people that haven’t used the service, but it’s becoming more and more normal, and more mainstream, which we expect will continue,” says Mathieu.
For owners, lending out their cars can be an attractive idea. Turo says that you can make your lease payment by lending out your car for nine days a month. On average, a Turo owner makes $450 per month in the United States.
The main concern for most users and drivers is insurance, but Turo works with major insurance companies to insure each car up to $2 million.
As of now, Turo does not have a commission structure for agents, but Mathieu says that is a priority for the future. Some forward-thinking agents might book this service and add a service fee instead.
“Travel agents need to be aware of Turo because it is the way of the future and continues to gain scale, becoming a very viable option for travellers,” he adds. “We want to work more closely with agents in the future and will be exploring ways to do that going forward, but first agents need to be informed on the service available.”
For more information, visit turo.com.