The NRA’s car rental discount page no longer shows any discounts at all, and instead displays the main discount page with various categories of savings. That’s because Alamo, Avis, Enterprise, Hertz, and National Car Rental have all stopped offering NRA discounts.
Is there a short-term marketing win with some customers for this, and a short-term marketing loss with others, because of this? Maybe, but it probably doesn’t move the needle on business when everyone eliminates the discount at the same time. Perhaps Uber and Lyft gain or lose business along some margin.
Discounts for large membership organizations are very common, and make sense or don’t depending on the perspective of the business offering them.
- Hotels offer AAA discounts and rarely check credentials. The discounts are given to price sensitive customers who seek them out. They’re “private, members only” discounts so they don’t run afoul of rate parity rules. And it allows them to market to a large list. AAA drives a certain amount of business that justifies the volume discount as well.
- The economics don’t always make sense. Amtrak decided that they don’t. Amtrak eliminated AAA and student discounts last month and reduced the senior discount. Amtrak is still a political organization, running routes to please members of Congress who support subsidies, and seniors vote.
Rental car companies may well have gained business on net from this discount, but large companies often try to avoid association with anything controversial — and no matter how you feel about guns and gun rights the topic right now is controversial. They worry about losing business as well as gaining business, whereas previously it was just a question of whether the discount offer generated more incremental business than it lost revenue.
And certainly when some rental companies cut ties, others don’t want to be left standing in the face of controversy alone. They’re cutting ties to eliminate a potential threat or media vulnerability.
We have notified the NRA that we are ending the NRA’s rental car discount program with Hertz.
— Hertz (@Hertz) February 23, 2018
Hat tip to One Mile at a Time who “commend[s] these car rental companies for taking a stand on this.” I disagree.
Car rental companies didn’t make this move before the school shooting incident in Florida. It wasn’t a stand taken outside of controversy, it was a reaction to controversy.
No matter how you feel about guns, rental car companies shouldn’t be your hero or villain here. They’re just making a business judgment not a social statement. So if you’re applauding or critiquing the decision made by Alamo, Avis, Enterprise, Hertz, and National Car Rental you’re mood affiliating rather than understanding what’s behind the action.