Fancy renting a Rolls-Royce or a Lamborghini?
There is a new luxury car rental in town to make your roadtrip luxurious
In these unprecedented times when you see a press release which says that you have an option for renting luxury cars and travel in style, it lifts your spirits up. A small voice in your head also says that the people running the travel industry are coming up with ways to tackle the new normal. Of course, there are some umpteen car rental platforms, online or otherwise, if you are in the mood to land in a touristy spot and are looking for a budget vehicle to sightsee. If you want to do the same in a luxury car, your options are limited.
One of the many options in Hype
Now though, there is a new player in town. Hype luxury car rental app gives you a range of vehicles to choose - from Jeep Compass on one end of the spectrum to a Jaguar F-Type in the middle and a Lamborghini Gallardo on the other! You can also opt for a Chauffeur if you want to enjoy the comforts of the back seat, which is the USP in most luxury cars. It has partnered with Club Mahindra hotels too, so your stay is sorted. Hype is currently present in eight cities and is planning to expand to more cities in the future. Raghav Belavadi is the founder of Hype and I asked him a few questions. Here is an excerpt:
Ganesh Murthy: What prompted you to start Hype?
Raghav Belavadi: The idea was born when I personally wanted to rent a luxury car in India and it was cumbersome. I had a tough time looking for the right car in the best condition. It was then when I realized that there is a gap to be filled. I also realized that people who wanted luxury cars for specific occasions got tangled with various issues like renting from unknown vendors, non-transparent pricing, and zero customer service.
GM: What is your view on luxury car rental trends in the country?
RB: I personally feel that the luxury car rental industry has seen a growth of 16-20% year on year. As safety and hygiene have become the top priorities, people are going to trust luxury cars more than ever before, as these factors are important in luxury car rentals as well.
GM: Your thoughts car rental industry amid the Covid-19 crisis?
RB: Yes, globally the luxury car market may be degrading, but not the rental market. Because if you don’t have the money, you can’t buy expensive cars. So, when there is a downturn, it’s actually good for us because people may stop buying, but the desire to drive a luxury car won’t die. So, they would still somehow want to drive the car. This can happen only in luxury cars. You see that people who buy luxury cars enjoy a certain kind of financial status, for the decision to buy may not affect them that much. The ones who are migrating to a slightly aspirational value, they would look for something like a premium economy kind of stuff. They will continue to rent. Their decision to buy might be postponed. It comes back to our core premise: Why buy when you can rent? So, when the economy is not doing well, it really doesn’t make much of a difference to the luxury industry.
GM: How car rentals are ensuring the hygiene and safety of the traveler?
RB: Unlike other companies, we have had our sanitisation policies at par before Covid-19 as well. We don’t take more than one booking per day. Our cars are thoroughly checked and cleaned before and after the trip. When it comes to luxury, our highest priority has always been towards exclusivity, safety, and cleanliness.
GM: How do you plan to promote luxury car rentals during post-corona times?
RB: When it comes to luxury cars, we didn’t have to go out of our way to convince our customers about safety standards. They have been on par since the start. We have and will continue to focus on our branding and customer experience. Unlike other cab rentals, there is an inbuilt trust which customers have when they think or talk about luxury cars and we have always stayed up to that.
GM: With several car rental platforms available in major cities, who is your target customer?
RB: Our typical target audience is people who have disposable incomes and have high aspirations. For example, someone who wants to take out their partner on a special occasion or wants to give their family a weekend out. Or simply someone who has a deep desire of driving a super-luxury car. All they need is a reason and an excuse. Because luxury is all about flaunting, bragging and it gives them an identity. So, even when the economy is going through a slowdown, it doesn’t affect their ambitions. What we look for in the market is not a million customers but a few thousand who appreciate the experience and will diligently spread the word about it to other people.
GM: When it comes to budget cars how new are the cars in your fleet?
RB: Most of the cars in our fleet are the latest models and not more than two years old. We always try to keep our fleet up to date. When it comes to super-luxury cars we have cars that are not more than five-six years old and some sports cars maybe 7-8 years old.
GM: What is the oldest car and newest car in your fleet in terms of model year?
The oldest car in our fleet is a Rolls Royce (2010) and the newest cars include Volvos, BMWs, and Mercs.
GM: What is the most preferred brand by your customers or customers in general looking for luxury car rentals?
RB: Most preferred brands by our customers are Volvo, Audi, and Jaguar.
GM: Do you have BS6 cars in your fleet?
RB: Yes we do.
GM: Do you offer roadside assistance in case of emergencies?
RB: Yes of course. We offer 24*7 roadside assistance for self-drive, chauffeur-driven option as well as for airport transfers.
Raghav Belavadi, CEO and founder of Hype
GM: What type of vehicle (SUVs/sedans/sports cars) is the most preferred by customers in the rental car business?
RB: When it comes to SUVs - Audi, Volvo, BMWs are the most preferred brands. In terms of sedans, many customers prefer Audi, Mercedes, BMW. Lamborghinis and Ford Mustangs are popular among customers who like sports cars.
GM: A number of electric SUVs are now on sale in India. Do you plan to bring in EVs for rentals?
RB: Yes, definitely. We are looking at only elite EVs on our platform as a lot of brands are coming up with an EV model.
GM: Tell us more about the Jets and Yachts rentals.
RB: We have been offering private jets and yachts for a year now. But yes we are launching them on our website and then customers can book them at just a click of a button.