today, I learned the power of the mobile internet
Josh, Ryan, and I landed at SFO yesterday knowing we needed a car, but without having reserved one yet. Normally, I’d never do something like that (I generally have all hotel reservations and confirm numbers written down in a notebook…), but we were in a rush, and, having checked Kayak the night before, I figured we could just walk up to the counter and get the $40 rate I had seen at three of the major car rental companies.
Instead, when we walked up to the counter, we were told that a car would $100/day, twice the online price. I told the guy that we had seen it online for half the price, which he tried to wave away by claiming that I had seen a price without taxes. He then urged us to talk to any of the other counters, and come back to him. He was quite secure that we would fail, and that would be that.
And then I did what millions of other people can do these days: opened the App store, downloaded the Kayak app, searched car reservations, booked a car for $37 a day, walked back to the counter and asked for the keys (at which point the saleswoman asked if I had just booked online, as the reservation hadn’t even hit their system yet - clearly, I’m not the only clever fox in these parts). I was standing at the back of the line while doing this. For me, mobile internet had just had an incredibly satisfying impact on my day. It also made the rental agency look very silly.
Now, I realize that they can still operate on the current model because smartphone penetration is not pervasive, but that can’t last much longer. The tools at my disposal are incredible, and are incredibly disruptive in a way that you can only really feel when you are standing next to someone telling you things are a certain way, and then prove him utterly wrong through access to information.
That’s real power for the consumer. That’s the exact thing that smart companies are playing to, rather than against right now. That’s what we’re trying to do with tutorspree: disseminate information, increase transparency, make difficult transactions easier rather than harder. It’s not an altruistic move, it’s a move that aligns incentives with your customers and makes them love you. It makes them want to come back, rather than forcing them to come back because they have no other options. That’s what I want to be known for, that’s how I want to do business.
Oh, and Dollar? Thank you for the Kia, it handles nicely.